Trump-tail Gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda)

This is a large gecko! I was in my room at Yatama Ecolodge, getting ready to sleep, when I saw a big stain on the wooden wall, and when I got closer to investigate I saw this incredible reptile. After taking a few test pictures, I brought a plastic bowl to try enclosing the lizard, expecting it to just run away, but it did not! With the bowl against the wall, I slowly lowered it trying to force its feet off the wall, but it also did not react much, until a few tries when it landed inside the bowl. I placed the lid and carried the gecko in the bowl outside, where I removed the lid and placed the bowl on the floor, and it first observed outside the bowl hesitantly and then in a explosive dash it disappeared below the floor. I supposed that it was hiding below the floor, so I came out with the camera and indeed it was there. I spent at least 20 minutes taking pictures from a variety of angles, and the gecko barely moved. This is was unexpected, given how common house geckos are wary of people.

Green Tree Anole (Anolis biporcatus)

We saw this Green Tree Anole right by the reception area at Yatama Ecolodge. It moved very slowly and deliberately, taking about 10 minutes just to traverse a plantain leaf from base to the tip, and when it did not find anywhere else to go, it jumped to an old heliconia flower that was hanging below the leaf. It continued moving towards the lower tip of the heliconia flower, and then it stayed at the lowest end for as long as we observed. Along all that movement, it gradually modified its skin color, becoming more yellowish-brownish when clinging to the heliconia and more lime green when walking through the leaf. It gave me plenty of time to snap many pictures in ever so slightly different positions; such a collaborative subject is not usual when it comes to wildlife photography.

Drab Streamside Tree Frog (Smilisca sordida)

The Drab Streamside Tree Frog, also known as Veraguan Cross-banded Tree Frog, is a relatively unmarked species, usually colored in grayish tones. It is common throughout the country, except on the Pacific Northwest. As indicated by its name, these frogs’ preferred habitat is water streams, where they breed. Curiously, I met this frog when one individual appeared on our kitchen at midnight in San Bernardino. We let it stay and in the morning it had disappeared, until my mother found it below the fret drainer where it was cool and moist. We placed it in a “Giant bird’s nest” plant (locally known as Tabacón), and there it remained for the entire day. By the evening, I went out and found it in the same place, and snapped the few pictures below.

Pug-nosed Anole (Anolis capito)

The Pug-nosed Anole is a small, slender lizard with a green body and a conspicuous black line that runs from the lower jaw through the eye and to the top of the head. The iris is orange with a black, round pupil. They are active during the day and sleep during the night. One individual below was seen during a night hike in Yorkin near the frontier with Panama, where it stayed motionless for more than half an hour, while we illuminated it with lamps and took pictures from close distances. The other was seen in Yatama Ecolodge, during a day hike in search of birds. My mom who was walking in front, believed that she was seeing a Gecko covered in moss, which I was certain was not the case. Some turtles are known to grow moss, fungi and lichens on their shells given how they stay motionless for a lot of time in a pool of water, but Anoles do not do that as far as my understanding goes. Nevertheless, this little friend was pretty confident on its camouflage, as it just stayed on the edge of the trail, only turning its head slightly in the 20 minutes we observed it.

Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper)

Fer-de-lances are the most feared snakes in Costa Rica, even if they are not the largest species to be found here. They have grown a reputation out of casual encounters and deadly accidents. Part of the reason is that Fer-de-lances are more frequently found close to human settlements than other vipers, creating more chances to see them close. They normally do not display aggressiveness towards humans, preffering to stay concealed and motionless, however this very behavior make them hard to detect. It is common for people working on the field to tell stories of snakes passing through their legs; if not for that, they would have gone unnoticed. When a human is close, their usual reaction is to leave, but sometimes if they feel threatened, they will launch an attack, with potentially devastating consequences for the victim.

You can tell I kept my distance when photographing this specimen. Special care needs to be taken when handling them, and as long as they don’t feel threaten, there should be no accident. I would never handle one of this on my own. It has an habit for approaching homes, unlike many other venomous snakes that stay away. This increases the potential for accidents with unsuspecting victims, even in residential areas where one would not expect to find a venomous snake otherwise.

Chiriqui Robber Frog (Pristimantis cruendus)

The Chiriqui Robber Frog is a rare nocturnal, arboreal inhabitant of humid lowland and montane forests in tropical countries, namely Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. Their color and pattern is highly variable and cryptic, but overall includes varying shades and patterns of drab colors like tan, brown and black, which helps them to camouflage easily in the forest. It lacks webbing on the hands and feet, but shows greatly enlarged disks on the toes and fingers. The best field mark to identify this species is the black reticulum on the brown eye. We found a female resting on a leaf on a night hike, and then a pair in amplexus on another hike through a rocky stream in search of the Ghost Glass Frog, at Yatama Ecolodge.