We are in Sarapiquí, Heredia Province. Finca La Selva could be the most studied place on Earth but one thing here doesn’t need to be probed by a statistical test: fer de lances are common . The fer de lance (Bothrops asper) is the most dangerous snake in Mesoamerica, we (los ticos) call it “terciopelo”= velvet. Terciopelos are among the most aggressive vipers in the world, and they produce the majority of the snake bites in Costa Rica, around 600 by year. Some herpetologists call the terciopelo the “ultimate pit viper” because it can use all kind of cover as part of its habitat: from pristine forests until your garden. They can have 40-90 broods each time, and all the “babies” are as letal as the mom (she can grow until 2.5 m), or even more, because they don’t know how to control the venom that inject to humans. The venom is proteolytic and toxic for blood, destroys the red cells and tissues…the muscles start to be digested and smell like rotten flesh. A bite could be deadly or at least cause a loss of movement and terrible scars. These days we have been seen at least 3 terciopelos near the houses or labs in La Selva, so keep your eyes open, wear rain boots and never handle a terciopelo. If you see one please try to tell other people where the snake is located to avoid walk nearby, and ask for help to the guard. But you should never enter in panic because is an animal that if you respect is not gonna attack no one : they are around buildings looking for toads, lizards and small mammals…not your foot. ¿ahora si se van a poner vivos?
Up. Terciopelo near River Station (when students living since today). Down. Terciopelo near the labs in La Selva. Both individuals were around 1m.
By Víctor Acosta, The T.A.