Costa Rica 2012, Part 6.

Reptiles and amphibians! Hey, you know what there is a lot of in Costa Rica? Reptiles and amphibians. Even better, reptiles and amphibians that can kill you. For example, we went to a butterfly park. What that means is there is a chunk of rainforest, not particularly big, like 100 feet by 50 feet, and there is a netted tent over it. Butterflies live in there and flit from plant to plant and eat fruit and then die. In the fancy butterfly parks they carefully collect all the dead butterfly bodies off the ground every morning and frame them, but here the public was allowed in so it wasn’t that carefully regimented. What was neat was seeing the caterpillars eating (and pooping, caterpillars poop so much, I had no idea) and butterflies emerging from chrysalises all crumpled and damp. Here are some giant hairy caterpillars with cool patterns. Yes, that is a milkshake glass. Big caterpillars.

This is my mom pointing to one caterpillar’s hind quarters. And whole bunch of caterpillar poop.

This was a lone monster caterpillar. We christened him The Shark. Look at him, then sing the Jaws, “dun dun, dun dun” song to yourself. It totally works.

Emerging butterflies!

This is a Blue Morpho. I love the brown spotted pattern on the outside of their wings, but everyone is totally into their bright blue iridescent inside wing parts. However, it is damn near impossible to photograph the inside because they sit with their wings closed.

All these little fellers were wafting past our heads the entire time we were walking around. It’s magical, like a ticker tape parade but alive.

This guy was my favorite. He’s got big “eyes” on his wings so predators will think he’s a big scary animal, but he is not. He’s a giant fuzzy moth that I want to cuddle.

ANYWAY, the reason I brought up this during my reptiles and amphibian portion of review is because at the bottom of one of the planters in this butterfly park was… a poison dart frog! Just hanging out being poisonous!

One of the reptiles we kept bumping into was the fabulously named “Emerald Basilisk, or Jesus Christ Lizard.” He is named this because he runs across the surface of the water. Their coloring differs depending on their habitat, but in the rainforest they look green and fake. If they didn’t blink or dart away, I would have thought they were plastic. Seriously. Here’s one (a male, notice the big crests on the back) chillin’ on a branch. This was taken without flash.

But this male was taken with flash and he looks super-plasticky-fake.

Mrs. Jesus Lizard was right next to us on the left. No crest.

This is a basilisk that lives in a brown dirt-covered area so he matches that environment. I would call him The Olive Basilisk.

There were tons of teeny-tiny lizards on the walls all over the place. I took a few pictures of them because (shocker!) I thought they were cute and I wanted to take them home with me.

Susan took pictures of these three guys, I don’t know what they are. I think one might be a skink, or maybe not. I am not a herpetologist. Fine-lookin’ lizards, though.

While we were on the river one morning really early we rolled on past this tree and the guide pointed out a boa constrictor being one with the branch. That boa could blend, I tell you. It took me a very long time to see him and he was right in front of me.

Later in the day we floated on by and he had curled up into a little boa-ball.

The time we saw the most cold-blooded creatures is when we went on a night-time frog walk. A guide led us through a chunk of rainforest on foot where there was a pond. They also had some glass cases that had some specimens in them, you know, someone found a death-beast in their house and these people came out and collected it and now they show it to schoolchildren to educate them, etc. My favorite was these two chameleon-looking lizards trying to sleep even though we were shining flashlights in their faces. We left them alone for the rest of the night, so I don’t feel so bad about the five minutes of inconvenience they had to endure.

And we saw a ton of frogs. We saw the Brilliant Forest Frog which doesn’t look like much, but he has a lovely defense mechanism. When he is startled he pees into the face of his predator and jumps away, and the insides of his legs are a vibrant red which disorients the attacker even more. I don’t think I would need the red inner thighs. I think the pee in the face would be enough.

We saw The Masked Frog…

And the Common Tink Frog, who was super-wee…

As well as the equally wee Hourglass Tree Frog.

And in a glass case there was an Eyelash Pit Viper. He was the greatest. He was a slim yellow guy with eyelash-looking scales over his eyes. And he has the best name in the Aztec language: “The Evil That Takes Your Soul With Kissing.” They come in a wide variety of colors depending on what they eat. The bright yellow ones eat hummingbirds, so they are mimicking a pretty flower. I love ’em.

In my wildlife book they had a whole page devoted to my beloved yellow eyelash pit viper.

I was quietly enjoying my moment with my new snake friend when my shoulder brushed something and eeeeeeehhhhhhhhh giant hairy spider. I don’t normally have a problem with giant hairy spiders but this one surprised me and I thought he was going to climb up my neck into my hair and then I had to walk off to the side and vigorously scratch my scalp with my fingernails.

In the next tank over was the Hog-Nosed Viper, so named because of its upturned snoot. Love the pattern.

We also saw these two frogs. Don’t know what kind they are. I call them Generic Frogs.

One of the most exciting moments of the frog walk was when the guide moved a leaf (a lot of my stories have the phrase, “the guide moved a leaf, and there was a <awesome thing> behind it”) and there was a Red-Eyed Tree Frog, the symbol of Costa Rica.

And, if you look carefully at this photo, you will see a Smooth-Skinned Toad hanging out in the leaf litter.

Coming up, more reptiles. Bigger ones. Scarier ones. With big teefers.

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