Sani Lodge Pt.4 – The Reptiles

Posted on January 23, 2011 by Tim 4 Comments

A couple nights later I was standing at the Bothrops spot wondering where the snake had gone. Snakes can completely blend in and disappear into their environment. I was asking myself was it still here and just not visible? Or had it completely moved on? I imagined that the snake had moved off in a particular direction and looking a few meters into the forest I saw a few inches of another snake exposed from under some leaves. A good spot, I congratulated myself. This snake superficially had the same pattern as the Bothrops so I didn’t recklessly grab it. I gently moved a couple leaves to see the head and knew right away that I had another species of earth snake, Atractus major – a new species for me. I’ve caught several members of this genus elsewhere. These guys use their pointed heads to root through leaf litter, rotting logs, and soil in search of invertebrate prey. A later photo session was frustrating and short. These snakes don’t like to sit still. And when you can manage to get them from crawling away they tend to hide their heads or point them down. So I knew ahead of time that I would be lucky to get some simple representative shots of the animal. Certainly nothing exciting enough to print and hang on a wall.

A not so very exciting shot of the earth snake, Atractus major.

I was surprised during one of my walks by coming across a turtle on the move through the forest. I recognized it as a mud turtle, genus Kinosternon, possibly the white-lipped mud turtle, K. leucostomum. However, upon seeing me he did a turtle move and pulled in. I decided to be patient and wait for him to come out to get my shots. Near an hour later (and at least a few thousand mosquito bites) he barely popped his head out. No good turtle action shots.

A mud turtle refuses to pose for pictures.

I generally don’t put a lot of effort into shooting anoles. I don’t know why. I get flustered trying to ID the Central American ones so that could be why I avoid them. However, there are fewer problems identifying the South American varieties and getting some simple shots is not too hard. The Anolis ortonii, my first, was running along the boardwalk by my cabin. I picked him up and shot him on a tree next to the boardwalk. The Anolis punctatus was a species I had hoped for for some time. I had seen a couple on trees before but never got them in hand. They are a pretty anole and have long odd-shaped snouts.

The pretty, and well camouflaged, Anolis ortonii on a tree branch.

My first photographic encounter with Anolis punctatus.

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  • Ross Perry says:

    Muscle strain and shake? What about pounding heart and hyperventilation when you’re eye tot eye with that guy!

  • Brian Roach says:

    A very interesting and enjoyable post, Tim, and some really fine photos!

  • WW says:

    I am really sorry to have to say it, but the “Bothriopsis taeniata” is actually a juvenile Bothrops atrox. Juveniles have a very different and more lichenous-looking pattern that adults, so it’s an easy mistake to make.

    • admin says:

      Wolfgang, I knew it was going to be an atrox. Admittedly I have more experience with B. asper than B. atrox and this is the youngest I’ve caught (I know juvies are not X patterned). I convinced myself it was a bothriopsis based on the speckled venter and the really upturned snout (not just pointed). That and I’ve seen many a Bothrops and no Bothriopsis. I guess I should say thanks for the ‘bad’ news.

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