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
7 of 7
COSTA RICA
April 2002
7 of 7
       
After sleeping late again we head back into the rainforest for an afternoon hike.  As we’re walking along and talking with Roberto, he decides to bust us.  “Alright, guys, you missed it. Let’s go back.”  We reverse direction about 50 feet to where he gleefully points to a Hog-nose Viper we nearly stepped on by the edge of the trail.   Roberto is so happy gloating about our oversight that a few moments later he walks right by a small snake on the crawl.  Now it’s our turn to call him back and ask how in the world an accomplished herpetologist like himself could miss such an obvious spot.  Actually, it’s extremely cryptic, one of the small snakes that hide in the leaf litter.  Not so cryptic are the giant centipedes who shamelessly couple in public no matter who walks by. The next capture is a joint venture.  Ron and Roberto simultaneously see, dive, and grab for a brown streak that slides off the path. It goes down into the leaves and under a log, but between the two of them they came up with it, a common type of Racer. Later on we spot an enormous Gecko way up a tree but far out of reach, so we settle for a Blunt-headed Tree Snake that’s in the same place, but a lot closer.   As it gets dark we spot the reflected eyeshine of Smokey Jungle Frogs (what a great name!).  These enormous frogs come out at night and wait in ambush for a variety of small creatures that make up their prey. Stationing themselves near holes in the forest floor, they quickly escape if pursued by predators, such as herpetologists.  About the size of a large bullfrog, but without the webbing of an aquatic frog, Jungle Frogs emit an eerie cry when caught, like the distress call of an alien child.  They also exude a slimy secretion that can cause an allergic reaction (oddly, respiratory rather than topical). Because of the drought we had given up hope of finding a particular frog high on our target list, but Ron’s persistent searching pays off when he spots this sleeping beauty beneath some overhanging leaves.   It’s the Costa Rican poster child itself, a Red-Eyed Tree Frog.   We finish up our hike, passing a tarantula and making the last find of our trip, a Fer-de-Lance.   It’s a fitting encounter, since we had come to think of this snake as our host in Costa Rica.  Although we found 19 different species of snake during the trip, this was the one we saw most frequently, accounting for 8 of the 35 individual snakes we recorded.  We pause to admire its dark, textured coils  the local name, Terciopelo, means “velvet” in Spanish   and take a final photo.     We leave the rainforest with a quiet sense of satisfaction, and the conviction that we’ll be back.  
Red-Eyed Tree Frog Agalychnis callidryas
Litter Snake Tantilla reticulata
Yellow Belly Snake Coniophanes fissidens
Smokey Jungle Frog Leptodactylus pentadactylus