Three words: eyelash pit viper
Location: Parque National Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica
Heeby jeeby factor: high
This was the second eyelash pit viper we saw while in the rain forests of Costa Rica. The first was with a guide, who spotted it and showed it to us (from a safe distance) through his telescope.
This little one was spotted by a fellow tourist on a leaf that sat just about eye-level just about two feet off the trail. She and her family were gathered near it when we came along. They went on their merry way, unaware of what kind of snake they were looking at, and we stepped in for a closer look.
Once you’ve seen an eyelash pit viper others are relatively easy to identify because of the modified scales above the eyes that look like eyelashes. You almost expect it to bat its “eyelashes” at you.
They’re an attractive little snake, as far as snakes go. While they’re not considered aggressive, they have been known to strike at humans who get too close (that’s why the angle isn’t the greatest…I wasn’t about to thrash around in the bushes in front of this snake to get a better shot). Their bite packs a wallop and can cause severe pain, swelling, bruising, and very often necrosis. If left untreated it can lead to loss of a limb, or even be fatal.
Dangerous? I’d say so.