An Eyelash Viper in Costa Rica - Observation of the Week, June 30, 2018

Our Observation of the Week is this well-camouflaged Eyelash Viper, seen in Costa Rica by @adrims12!

“Ever since I was a child, I became interested in animals, always asking my parents to buy me every National Geographic magazine and spent hours reading the articles, seeing the photos and dreaming of becoming a photographer for the magazine someday,” recalls Adrián Montero Salguero.

But in college Adrián “became very interested in the study bacteria and parasites, so I put aside larger animals observation for a while,” and he is now a member of the Faculty of Microbiology at the University of Costa Rica. However, he bought his first camera three years ago and “started taking pictures of landscapes and wildlife, [and] although I'm still a beginner, it makes me immensely happy to be able to capture and share my country’s beauty to the world.” He’s currently into reptiles and amphibians “and because of my career, I am obsessed with photographing small species of insects and arachnids as well.”

Back in March, Adrián and a few of his friends were hiking to a waterfall in the Alajuela province of Costa Rica. He recounts,

I was crossing the La Vieja river with two of my friends and I was like 25 meters ahead of them, when I heard: Snaaaaake!!! I immediately returned to the place they were and my friend pointed nervously to a rock. He told me that he was jumping barefoot on the rocks by the river, he jumped to one of them, he detected a small movement near his foot and it was the snake, just a little less than a foot away, so he quickly moved away. This beautiful Bothriechis schlegelii, incredibly camouflaged in the mossy rock, was totally relaxed sunbathing in the morning, so I took my camera and got at least 5 good pictures before it decided to leave. That was my first encounter with a poisonous snake in the wild!

Bothriechis schlegelii, commonly known as the Eyelash Viper, are more commonly encountered on tree branches and shrubs, although almost always near a water source, much like the individual Adrián and his friends came across. They are ambush predators and will take nearly any type of vertebrate as prey, as long as they can subdue and eat it without much labor. The pit viper above is mostly colored green, but there are other natural color morphs, such as yellow.

This species gets its common name for the large “eyelash” scales over its eyes (keep in mind that snakes lack even eyelids, so these are definitely not lashes!), which scientists believe help to break up the outline of the snake’s body. Like other pit vipers, Eyelash Vipers have two large heat-sensing pits below their nostrils and retractable fangs for envenomation. They are not considered to be an aggressive snake.

Adrián (above) learned about iNaturalist from a friend about one month ago and says:

I’m impressed by the amount of species I’ve never seen in my country before and [it] motivates me to explore it much more now. My motivation to share my photographs in iNaturalist is that other people in my country can see the beauty of its biodiversity and that many people in the world come to visit Costa Rica and fall in love with my small country as I am.

- by Tony Iwane


- You can see more of Adrián’s photography on Instagram!

- Sir David Attenborough narrates footage of an Eyelash Viper hunting a hummingbird. Wow. 

Posted by tiwane tiwane, June 30, 2018 08:58 PM

Comments

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Love the Pink Floyd Shirt! Cool snake find too :)

Posted by carolr 3 months ago (Flag)
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Very cool Snake! It blends in well with its surroundings.

Posted by walkingstick2 3 months ago (Flag)

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