Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cahuita and Eye-lash Vipers

During my second visit to the tiny national park of Cahuita, in Costa Rica, on the Carribean coast, I noticed a Three-toed Sloth climbing down a tree.
Sloths are so odd, and way cool. There are Two-toed Sloths as well. I walked to the base of the tree and waited patiently for it to come down. It never even noticed me and came down to defacate at the base of the tree. I could'nt resist the urge to touch it's moss covered fur.
Immediately my hand was covered with tiny moths. The sloth looked at me, then turned it's head away. There was movement in a nearby tree, and I saw two more sloths, apparently fighting in slow motion. There I stood transfixed by it all. About that time a park ranger, leading a group of tourists walked past and asked me what I was doing off the trail.
I said there is a sloth right here at my feet, and two more in that tree. The whole group came over to where I was and looked at the hapless sloth. As they were leaving the ranger asked if I wanted to see an Eye-lash Viper. Did I ever. He said it was coiled on a tree trunk, just past the second river crossing.
I could'nt move fast enough. I was so afraid that I would miss seeing it.
Way back, when I was a teenager, a friend and I visited the reptile house in the Los Angeles Zoo. We got to talking to the curator of reptiles, and he invited us into the inner workings of the reptile house when he saw our keen interest in reptiles. There I peered into a cage, and saw a Bright yellow snake, coiled on a branch.
It hardly looked real. Lemon yellow, even it's eyes. The curator said it was an Eye-lash Viper, and the yellow color phase occurs only along part of the Carribean Coast of Costs Rica. I just dreamed of one day going there to see one in the wild. That was my main goal in life for a good part of my youth.
Now here I was, seeing a yellow, (Oropel) Eye-lash Viper in it's natural environment. Life could not be better.
During that visit, and the  next trip to Costs Rica, I spent more time exploring Cahuita, than any other part of Costa Rica. All in all, I found many Eye-lash Vipers, all of them yellow but one, that was tan.
All of them were mild mannered. This is the only individual that made a half-hearted attempt to bite me.
All of the Eye-lash Vipers that I saw were within ten feet of the main trail. Most of them were right next to the trail, between 2 ft, and 8 ft of the ground. Other tourist would walk right past them, almost brushing against them, and never notice them. This is my favorite old photo of them.
The main trail in the park runs parrallel to the beach, just inside the trees. It is a bird paradise, and full of monkeys etc. as well. I will do another blog post about the place soon.

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