Biocomplacency

In retrospect, it’s amazing how accustomed I’ve become to the wildlife here. A month ago, I would have run for my camera if a coati walked by. Now I chase them away with a broom. Hey, don’t judge me–the bastards are trying to eat the plantains. And two of them were humping behind the dorm. I had to turn the hose on them. Bold little buggers. We’ve had several tapirs go right by the building, and macaws perch out front almost every day.

If there’s a snake, however, I’ll still come running. One of the interns calmly informed me of a “very large snake” she found on the ground as she was checking the rain gauge, and asked if I “might take a look”. Now, for a herpetologist, being woken by the sound of a woman asking you to deal with a large snake is the ultimate fantasy. The snake in question turned out to be a young boa constrictor that was pretty calm despite being handled and passed around by everyone over breakfast. I released her in the garden to eat rats, so we may be seeing her again.

I still try to remember that visitors here are not nearly as jaded. One group of birders was horrified when I referred to a black vulture–a species they had never seen–as a “rat with wings”. Yes, the term applies, but to them it was special. Newcomers will also obsess over getting the perfect shot of a scarlet macaw, or basilisk lizard, which we’re practically tripping over on our way to the bathrooms. And monkeys. Everybody loves seeing monkeys for the first time, and everybody eventually gets tired of monkeys.

But it doesn’t matter where I am–I love snakes. And a boa, right there by the rain gauge. The things your local weatherman doesn’t have to deal with.IMG_0742

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