I’m back, and found these nice photos waiting from reader Lou Jost, a biologist who works in Ecuador (and who discovered the world’s smallest orchid). Recently Lou came across something not as harmless. . .
I just came back from a trip to our Rio Zunac Reserve, and walked right past this pit viper on the side of the trail. Easy to see when you know it’s there, not so easy when you’re looking for birds high in the trees! The person behind me saw it after I passed it. This is Bothrocophias microphthlamus, one of the most deadly pit vipers (and one for which antivenom is not very effective), but most individuals are not particularly aggressive. [JAC: Wikipedia gives its common name as “the small-eyed, toad-headed pit viper.”]
Snakes are like bears though–lots of individual variability. Years ago when I was a guide in Costa Rica I once had a tourist guest actually sit on a deadly fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), her butt pinning the snake down but leaving the head free. It didn’t strike. But in the same area, another individual of the same species came jumping out of the undergrowth to strike at me from a long distance away and chase me.
Can you spot the snake? ‘Cause if you can’t, you better not hike in the tropics:
Here it is!
The Venomous Animals Database says this about the species:
Potent hemotoxin, but not well characterized. Venom of this species may be the most toxic of any in this genus. Preliminary studies have indicated that this snake’s venom is poorly neutralized by some commercially available antivenoms.