Snakes in costa rica


Although seeing a snake in the tropical forest can be thrilling, be respectful and keep your distance. Minimize unpleasant surprises. First, running is not a good idea. Never sit on or step over a log or rock without checking out the other side. Some snakes live in trees, with protective coloration, so watch where you put your hands and your head. Most bites, however, occur below the knees, so consider high boots. Two pairs of eyes are better than one, so walk with a friend. At night, carry a strong light.

Costa Rica has 135 species of snakes. Only 18 species are poisonous. Fewer than 500 snakebites-most affecting farmworkers-are reported each year, with fewer than 15 fatalities. The fer-de-lance, or terciopelo, accounts for almost half the bites.

Bite marks of venomous and nonvenomous snakes differ. That of a nonpoisonous snake shows two rows of teeth marks but no fang marks. If the bite was from a poisonous snake, keep the victim still (especially the affected part), and squeeze out as much venom as possible with your mouth or hands within the first 10 minutes after the bite. Tourniquets and incisions are not recommended for amateurs. Get medical attention as quickly as possible. There is a polyvalent serum for use against all venomous Central American snakes except the coral, which has its own serum.

Running on a path to catch a bus, I once came face-to-face with a snake racing to catch a gigantic frog. I had turned my head to glance at the frog as it leaped by and looked forward again to see a spectacular black snake with a luminous bright green stripe along the length of its long body about 4 feet in front of me. The top half of that body was reared in the air, the head at about the level of my knees. Startled, we stopped in our tracks and stared at each other for a timeless moment. Then in one graceful move, it melted to the ground and slid off into the leaves at the side of the trail. The lesson: if a giant frog passes you with incredible leaps and bounds, consider the possibility that something is in hot pursuit, headed your way.

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