Readers’ wildlife photographs

Robert Lang, who’s documented his trip to Costa Rica, sends some photos of reptiles today. His notes are indented:

There were two types of turtle common on the Carrbbean canals: the Black River Turtle (Rhinoclemmys funerea), which is pretty generically turtle-looking:


. . . and what our guide called the “Sliding Turtle”, which has a striped neck and head like the North American Red-Eared Slider. Judging from guide’s name, appearance, and range, I’m guessing it’s the Meso-American Slider (Trachemys venusta).



One of the Black River Turtles made a nice perch for a juvenile Emerald Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons).


The juvenile basilisks look generically lizard-like, but the adult has dramatic sails along its back. [JAC: These are sometimes called “Jesus Christ lizards” because they can literally run across the surface of the water.]


We saw a few other interesting lizards: a Black Spiny Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) along a riverbank near the Pacific:


And Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) near the Carribean. The greens are sexually dimorphic; the females are smaller and darker:


While the males are larger, lighter, and have larger spikes along their back.


On the smaller side, we spotted a Central American Whiptail Lizard (Ameiva festiva) in the leaf litter.


We saw only two snakes, both venomous: first, the Green Tree Viper (Bothriechis lateralis), in Monteverde cloud forest. Wait, why is it not green? It’s a juvenile. The juveniles are brown and marked, and have a distinctive greenish-yellow tail tip, which you can see here.


And a juvenile Eyelash Pit Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) in the rain forest. Costa Rica has a lot of venomous animals, but they’re generally not aggressive; these just sat there while we shot. This one was teeny-tiny, just a few inches long, but I’m sure he would have been happy to sink his teeny-tiny fangs into a probing finger, so we still kept our distance.


There are also two types of crocodilians. We saw Spectacled Caimans (Caiman crocodilus) on the Caribbean side:



And the most intimidating, the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), which we saw in tidal rivers on the Pacific side.


Definitely a strong discouragement of unauthorized swimming!



  1. Jim Knight
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    It is good to see the arboreal, frog-eating snake populations reproducing and making a rebound. Their populations dropped mightily after the chitrid fungus went through and killed many or most of the frogs. The same story from west-central Panama, where we started seeing neonate frog eaters again…

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Interesting observation Jim. I hadn’t thought of that connection. I think our forests are fine in that regard….you can be the judge when you get here!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Love those turtles…

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Those were awesome pictures!

  4. Karen Bartelt
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Wonderful reptile pix. We saw the JC lizards in Costa Rica, but not turtles or iguanas. My favorite is the turtle with the lizard on its back.

  5. Posted July 18, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    From an old Costa Rica hand: great pix!

  6. darrelle
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    The Meso-american slider looks quite similar to the Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) that ranges from Florida to Virginia in the US.

    Looks like you had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    What cute turtles!

  8. Ann German
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink


  9. rickflick
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful shots. I feel like I’ve been there…in all the right places.

  10. Lars
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed these all, but particularly the turtle pictures. Turtles generally won’t hold poses for photographs. Did you use a telephoto lens?

  11. Mark R.
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Reptiles are my favorite subjects for photos. Thanks for the wonderful herps!

  12. keith cook + / -
    Posted July 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Since its very likely I will never go to these places that was a great pictorial visit.
    Thanks for the post.

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