Creatures of the island

Fieldwork on BCI is full of small joys and large surprises in the forms of animals that share the island with us. Here a few of the herpetofauna we’ve encounted in the last two days.

First, a lovely small frog – less than an inch long, but beautiful. The leaf litter here is very dry, because there has not been much rain lately, so it’s not very difficult to hear small things hopping around.

Second, a much larger creature. We were scouting out our second plot, about to cross a ravine, when one of us saw a large black creature moving very quickly across the ground. There being several species of deadly venomous snakes in Panama, we beat a hasty retreat. The snake (five or six feet long, we think!) quickly twined up a tree, and we decided to leave work at this site for another day…

Turns out it’s a non-venomous, but rather aggressive and territorial, tiger rat snake (Spilotes pullatus). I took this photo with a 200 mm lens from a very long distance before we knew what it was…

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