It was our gardener’s assistant who sounded the alarm.
The undergardener had been clearing underbrush behind the laundry drying area in the far corner of our “plantel”. El plantel is the level area of a property on which people build their homes. In our mountainous Central Costa Rican neighborhoods, a pantel is usually carved out of the face of a hillside. Immediately behind the clotheslines our property drops sharply down toward a canyon, where a creek runs, murmuring and burbling in secret, completely hidden from view by the canopy of a dry forest. That is heavy-duty snake country down there, the realm of terciopelo, the “velvet” skinned and much-feared pitviper Bothrops asper. Terciopelos have been described as excitable and unpredictable and experts in all things viper have called terciopelo the ultimate pit viper. For some strange reason, the snake has a French name in the US: fer-de-lance, spearhead, in reference to the shape of its head, as well as the snake’s habit of advancing toward the enemy (you) with its head raised well above the ground. This enables the charming maniac to strike above the knee of the average upright mobile creature (you), inducing its necrosis causing venom ever so much more strategically well placed for maximum effect.
Had a dreaded terciopelo come all the way up to visit?
We ran toward the shouts, our gardener Ray in the lead. He soon joined brave young Osman, who had the offending reptile pinned down with a gardening rake.
Recognizing the snake as a member of the vastly less dangerous Boidae family, Ray got ahold of the snake’s neck region and brought the vigorously resisting animal over to us. [In anticipation of tropical trouble, we had wisely stationed ourselves behind the reassuring shelter of a half wall surrounding our outdoor kitchen].
Ray called her small, but oh, was she strong! And quite determined to squeeze all life out of his wrist.
We stretched her out along the tiled kitchen counter top and discovered an injury on her flank. So instead of releasing her, Ray took her to a snake guy he knows well, to make sure the cut won’t get infected.
And no, I don’t think her eyes show the opacity of an advanced shedding cycle. The possible injury had debris in it, but it wasn’t clear, how deep a cut it was. Hence the sanctuary.
Boa constrictor imperator, Boidae, Daudin, 1803; Boa constrictor of Central America.