In the Blood

Whoa. Wait up. Hold the phone. I have news: There is a snake in Costa Rica I haven’t heard of.

I’ll repeat that: There is a snake. In Costa Rica. That I haven’t heard of.

I can’t fully explain how wrong that is. How unexpected. That’s like discovering your favorite sports team had a player you’ve never heard of. And they’ve been there this whole time, since before you were a fan. That’s like discovering an unknown ingredient in your favorite dish, one that you’ve been eating for years. I’m floored. I’m astounded. I am both betrayed and amazed.

How did I miss this? I poured over field guides and wildlife textbooks during my early naturalist years, lingering over the reptiles. I have a scary good memory for this kind of thing. And while, sure, I didn’t commit every known scientific name to memory, I at least covered species complexes, especially for snakes, so I would know which ones were safe to pick up. I knew which were vipers, for example, which were boas, which were cat-eyes, which were snailsuckers, and so on.

Pictured: so on.

But stop. Collaborate. Listen. This snake has a super cool name. Ready? It’s called the Blood Snake.

Jesus, that’s the name a middle school goth plans to call his death metal band. That’s a villain from an 80’s action flick. Bloodsnake. Blood. Snake. That’s two grim words combined. That’s like one of those awful novels written by an AI that had been fed nothing but cheap paperback thrillers.

Even in a taxon of badass names, this stands out. Unlike other animals–namely birds–snakes are known for having some appropriately menacing monikers. You know a Bushmaster means business. Death adder? Come on. Even adopted foreign words, Boomslang, for example, don’t give off a friendly vibe. So alongside rattlers and spitting cobras and stiletto vipers, Blood Snake is memorable.

Blood snake. Seriously. Stenorrhina freminvillei. It’s in the genus known commonly as the “Scorpion-Eaters” and oh my god, this snake just keeps getting cooler.

Skorpionsfresser in German. Jesus, you don’t even need to speak German to know that’s rad.

Anyway, shame on me for not learning this sooner. It was brought to my attention by my new friends on iNaturalist, who corrected an ID I made on an old photo I took.

Hold it. Stop the car. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. Not only has this snake existed without my knowledge, but I have had a photo of it this entire time?

I apparently took it back in 2018, in Guanacaste, where I found one crawling across my driveway. I thought it was a young burrowing python. I even posted the pic to this blog a few years back. So without further ado, I give you once again the terrible, the vicious, Blood–

–snake?

Huh. That little thing up there? Ok….not really sure why that gets called a blood snake. It’s kinda pinkish, I guess. And shiny.

Still not convinced it’s not a burrowing python.

So, this thing eats scorpions? It didn’t even try to bite me. It’s mouth was too small, anyway. Bit feisty, though. I thought it was a shoelace at first, blowing in the wind. Apparently, they can sometimes have stripes and an alternate name is the Slaty Grey Snake which, yeah, I would have gone with something like that.

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