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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Snakes in Costa Rica

I was at our neighbour's house today for a swim and decided to get the pool net in order to sweep up a few insects in the water.

The old blue net was not attached to any pole so I opted to use it. It's easiest to just walk around in the pool scooping up the debris.

Without even checking, I lifted up the net by the rim and immediately realized that something very colourful was inside it. In the next instant, I realized it was a snake and threw that net as hard and as fast as I could. The net covered the snake up and it looked like it was trapped inside.

I ran home to get my husband and my camera. By the time we got back, the snake was leaving the net but I managed to get a photo. It moved very fast into the dense thicket of palm trees.

Was this a coral snake - very poisonous - or the false coral snake?

Here is my snake:

False Coral Snake

Turns out this snake is a false coral snake. Note the ring markings: black, yellow, black, red.

Here is the poisonous coral snake:

Poisonous Coral Snake

The ring markings on the poisonous coral snake are red, yellow and black, with the red rings bordered on both sides by yellow. This photo is courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

These rhymes may help you remember the differences (although they completely left my mind when I saw the snake): "Red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow", "Red touches black, you're OK, Jack". My wag of a husband added another line, just for me: "Nose to nose view, shame on you!".

So, fellow Costa Rican folks, this was just a reminder to pay attention. With all the beauty around us, it's easy to forget that we still live very, very close to nature ... isn't that one of the reasons that drew us to Costa Rica in the first place? Shake out your clothes and shoes before putting them on, don't touch anything outside without first looking closely at it, buy a pair of rubber boots ("wellies") to wear when you walk around outside on your property, look before touching ... just be aware, and enjoy this beautiful, beautiful country.

 

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