April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Snakes Alive!

We recently wrote about snakes and the fact that they often end up dead after any contact with people in my nieghboorhood. (Missed it? See the blog from 6-20-08 called Snakes alive? found at http://ak-panama.blogspot.com/2008/06/snakes-alive-video.html)

Well, I am happy to report that since that blog posting I have witnessed at lease 3 snakes come into view of my nieghboors and live to slither away again. Most notably was a little boa that Julian caught....yes caught! He, without prompting from us touched it and showed it to others. I will say that this gave me a huge smile for many days...partly because of how brave he was. If you look at the photo above you can see that he was not taking any changes, he was holding it just behind the head and tightly. Just after the photos were taken he released it into the woods near our house.

At a different event the kids found a vine snake. I was shocked that no one ran to kill it, not even the kids. We were not even in our home nieghborhood were people have seen us not kill snakes, we were on the far side of the island. Well, we figured that this was not going to last for long so we caught it and let everyone look at it.

We tryed to convince them that it is not venomous or dangerous...yes it would bit if it could...but only because it is scared. I often say "I have a mouth too...and if you scare me enough I will bite just like any other animal!" We then released it far away from the people who were gathered around.

I often get a chuckle (or sometimes fusterated) when they tell me that snakes like the one above will eat chickens (one of the two common reasons to kill all snakes - venomous or kills chickens) ...he would have a hard time eating anything bigger than Kevin´s thumb. We are trying to help them see that different snakes have different body types and that this indicates what they might eat and how.

In another moment of small sucess the nighborhood kids brought us a young iguana the other day. He is small enought that he probably hatched in the past 4-5 months, most eggs are laid in January-March.

We used the opportunity to talk more about reptiles and why they are important. Iguanas have the fault that they are tasty, kinda like chicken (sometimes called pollo del arbol or chicken of the tree)...and thus endangered. The problem here is convincing people that every iguana matters, and no there are not enough iguanas in the world.

It is often hard to appreciate how interesting the world that is our personal nieghborhood is when we live there all the time. I bet the kids on the island would think that mudd puppies in Maryland are cool. Mudd puppies are a type of aquatic salemander. They can be 12" long and live to 20 years and never loose thier gills. When was the last time you thought about them?? It has been a long time right? Sometimes close proximaty makes it harder to value that which we have or believe that there could be a time when we might not have it.

1 comment:

Pet Snakes said...

That's awesome that they aren't running around slaughtering the snakes. I've never understood people's totally irrational fear of those animals. Amazing how the "manliest" of men (if you measure manliness by acting tough) turn into quivering masses of sniveling nothing at the site of a 12 inch baby snake.