Monday, May 20, 2013

Amazonia 3: Viper? I barely know her! 1: Fer-de-lance

Enough about boring, temperate northeastern suburban living! Here's a story about how I caught a viper in the supercool, awesome Amazon.

So I was happily strolling along during a sunny afternoon with this dingus named Evan to check out some gaps. Gaps are areas where trees have fallen allowing sunlight to reach the ground which means that lizards that like to bask are found in these areas. Trees fall a lot in the rainforest because their roots are not very deep at all because the soil sucks in the rainforest. Epiphytes might also have a role in tree falls as well. Regardless of the actual reason, the resulting light conditions have great significance for the plants that grow there.

"I love gaps." -Lizard

But who cares about plants? Back to lizards. So I saw the lizard pictured above (Kentropyx pelviceps) in a sunny spot, but before I could noose the darn thing, it ran under a large fallen tree. From the shadow cast by the large tree, I could make out the silhouette of something reptilian so I eagerly noosed it and to my surprise (stupidity) I pull out a fer-de-lance.

The fer-de-lance, Bothrops atrox, is a pit viper complete with a hematotoxin that can kill me. The noose only got tighter behind the viper's giant head full of venom as it struggled to get away at a distance of 10 feet away from me. How do I know it was 10 feet away from me? Because my lizard catching stick is a collapsible fishing pole that can be extended to 10 feet. While this helped me with standing at a safe position, I still couldn't cut or loosen the noose without getting within striking distance of the damn snake.

The common name for these snakes in Spanish is "equis" or "X" which is another interpretation of the patterning on the snake. In America we refer to it as a "diamondback," with regard to rattlesnakes which are closely related to the fer-de-lance I just caught. The snake reminded me of this by violently shaking his rattle-less tail while squirming approximately 10 feet away from me. Pictures and videos would be helpful in illustrating these facts and story, but I was too busy pissing my pants.

Thankfully, before that actually happened, we were close to camp and my friend ran to get the professor who did not simply cut the noose, but loosened it off the snakes head so I could still use it for the rest of the day.

And that's the end of the tail. 
Ha ha ha.

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