All text copyright  Eitan Grunwald.  All photographs copyright  Eitan or Ron Grunwald  except photographs by others are copyright per photo credits.  All rights reserved.  Terms
COSTA RICA
April 2002
4 of 7
COSTA RICA
April 2002
4 of 7
       
We arrive late in the afternoon of the next day at another biological field station located in Caribbean lowland rainforest. As we park the car, Iguanas and Basilisks scatter into the bushes, and we are greeted in our cabin by a lively little Gecko.  Figure we’re in the right place. We head out for a hike, passing Iguanas in the trees, and once again enter the rainforest. Almost immediately we come upon more D. pumilio, this time looking much more like “Blue Jeans” compared to the “Strawberries” found along the coast.  These show-offs are happy to announce their presence with vocal calls, constant hopping, and flashes of scarlet. With their good looks and bad taste, might as well as flaunt it (not unlike some of our own species, eh?). Next up is a Skink who poses briefly before dashing away.  This was the only species of skink we saw during the trip, and only a couple of specimens at that.   Suddenly something moves off fast through the leaf litter by the side of the trail.  In the dimming light Ron catches a quick glimpse  it’s some kind of colubrid  so he makes a dive . . . and misses.  But, surprisingly, the snake just stops right in front of him, so Ron grabs and makes good on the unexpected second chance.  And in his hand is a glimmering Speckled Racer, twisting and turning and flashing its multi-colored scales.   By now it’s twilight, and as I walk in the lead I see something crawling along the trail, about 15 feet ahead. It’s got red and black bands, and our near miss in Tortuguero comes to mind.  I shout, “Coral Snake!”, but behind me Ron is muttering, “red to yellow….RED TO BLACK!  It’s a Milksnake!”  The big snake starts down a hole beneath the roots of a tree, but Ron manages to make the grab.   He pulls it up, and let me tell you, this tropical version has a very different disposition from its temperate cousins.  It’s downright nasty, acting like a fat candy-cane Coachwhip.  But, my, it’s pretty.     We head back in the dark, past singing frogs and sleeping butterflies, and look forward to the morning.
Tropical Milksnake Lampropeltis triangulum ssp.
Bronze-Back Climbing Skink Mabuya unimarginata
Speckled Racer Drymobius margaritiferus