Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife: The Fer de Lance

Well, it's another Thursday and time for yet another installment of "Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife". This week we are focusing on an animal so asinine, so dickish, and so irredeemably evil that it kills more people here than almost anything else. I am talking about Bothrops asper, more commonly known as the Fer de Lance, referred to by Ticos as Terciopelo, and by me as Fuckface McPoisontooth. This snake kills people. And the kicker is, it's not usually the the scenario you would expect that leads to this asshole biting you.

We have all watched the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet enough to know that picking up any wild snake is a bad call. Check. Most of us know that if we make enough noise when we walk in underbrush, snakes will usually scatter and you don't get bit. Check. Alot of us realize that snakes are usually way more afraid of us then we are of them. Check. Ok, so take all that knowledge, roll it into a little ball, pop it like a pill and try and convince yourself that it's a sedative. Because that's how much that aforementioned knowledge will help you in dealing with a Fer de Lance.

Wasn't even hungry....
Though highly venomous and packing oversized venom glands to boot, it's not the most venomous snake here. That title goes to a toss up between the Bushmaster and the Pacific Sea Snake. What makes this snake so dangerous is the fact that it is legitimately an asshole. It is so aggressive that it has been known to chase people on BICYCLES for miles. The Cottonmouth viper, or Water Moccasin in the Southeastern US is famous for it's aggression as well, but nowhere near the ferocity of a pissed off Fer de Lance. And alot of evidence suggests that this is pretty much the prick's natural state. If the weather is particularly hot (and it's Latin America so....), the aggressive behavior is even more apparent. One attack that personally know of happened to the wife of a Swiss friend while she was hiking on the Osa Peninsula.

She was in a large group of other women walking through Corcovado National Park on a very well marked trail. They didn't stop, they never got off the trail, and their guide was an experienced Tico park ranger. Then out of nowhere a 4 ft. Fer de Lance came launching out of the underbrush about 10-15 ft. to one side of them, pretty much intent on murder. Everyone ran like hell, but my friend's wife was the slowest... She was bitten repeatedly on the calf, thigh and hands. The ranger and another lady in the tour group sustained multiple bites as well trying to help her. The ranger eventually dispatched it with his machete, but until that moment it just would not stop biting. Everyone had to be airlifted to San Jose for antivenin because the park did not have enough for all three people with the amount of venom in the equation. My friend almost lost his wife, and they moved back to Switzerland just a few months later.


Here's a video that shows the aggressive behavior of this snake pretty clearly. This tour group spots one swimming, and the sum'bitch turns around and starts going for the boat. Those of you who understand Spanish will get a kick out of the radio chatter that ensues...


This next video is NOT for the squeamish, and if you are already afraid of snakes you don't need to even watch it. This is video features the most dangerous snakes on the planet based on how many human deaths are attributed to them every year. The second one in the video is the Fer de Lance, and it shows quite graphically the effect it's venom has on human tissue. Again, not for the squeamish...you have been warned!


On a serious note, snakes (with the exception of this one and a few others) are generally shy and very misunderstood creatures. The also serve a critical part in the ecosystem in that they keep rodents and other disease carrying vermin at bay. They deserve their part in the food chain just as much as we do and are further deserving of our respect. I think all snakes are beautiful and fascinating creatures with alot to teach us about ourselves.

But fuck this one...kill it with fire!

See you next Thursday with more Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife!

35 comments:

las3R said...

Goddamn I hate snakes so much D:

Astronomy Pirate said...

Creepy, I saw the image in the Wikipedia page from the poison and knew this was a bastard not to mess with. I spent a significant amount of time growing on the edge the Great Dismal Swamp, home to three poisonous snakes (cottonmouths, copperheads, and rattlesnakes) and a whole host of other snakes, to know well enough to respect snakes by keeping the hell away.

Daan said...

this makes me want to go into the forest and catch some snakes for fun.

The Game Store Guy said...

Jeez. For all of my knowledge of different creepy crawlies and having grown up around snakes, I have actually NEVER heard of this thing. Pretty intimidating.

Jay.CA said...

fer de lance invader vs bronx cobra. FIGHT!

Electric Addict said...

wouldn't want to run into that guy :O

Patti D. said...

What an asshole! I hope they get extinct real soon!

Anita Johnson said...

Cool snakes! alphabetalife.blogspot.com

The Angry Lurker said...

Fucking hell they're unbalanced those snakes, good well written post, made me laugh and grimace at the same time.

mac-and-me said...

snakes are scary

elexerdelex said...

I always wonder how snakes scratch themselves if they have an itch...

Alphabeta said...

I'm not usually scared of snakes but this one is pretty terrifying.

Banacek said...

This just makes me hate snakes even more. My stepbrother was bitten by a garter snake once. It was horrible. It almost broke skin.

wronyr said...

good post

Jennifer Black said...

Is the snake as much of a bastard in the winter too?

Gloria said...

Aaron I dont like snakes!!! I saw bigger in Brazil, so sacred, I think you love wildlife! Take care, gloria

Autumnforest said...

Damn! I thought the AZ desert had scary shit with wild pigs and rattlers and scorpions. It's got nothing on Costa Rica. Beautiful snake video. I grew up playing with black snakes and grass snakes. I had no fear until I went swimming in a lake with water moccasins. I give all snakes a wide berth now. That would suck to be in such a beautiful place and be afraid to hit the jungle for a hike. I agree. Nothing redeeming about that snake. Jeez, powerful and an asshole. Sounds like Mike Tyson.

Thatoneguy said...

Crazy looking animals.

HaigoR said...

truly bastard wildlife. How do you live there with so many crazy poisonous animals? Just looking at that snake eat up that lizard creeps me out, but curiosity drives towards it. I'm gooing to watch some snake eating and fighting videos. be safe dude, stay away from these bastards :)

Questions said...

Snakes really scare me.

Robert Fünf said...

I've lived with friends that keep many different snakes, so I'm not typically afraid of them. This one though, is just insane!

Lemmiwinks said...

great post. following you

notforeverybody said...

thx for the warnings. I didn't look at the vids. Snakes are just gross and scare the crap out of me...

ed said...

i have a fear of spiders but not snakes

rinns said...

Holy shit, it chased a guy on his BIKE?! Fucking wow, talk about being a hater.

Venus said...

i really like the name of this specieL Fer-de-lance... sound cool

CandleintheDark said...

This is an awesome post. Very informative.

I actually applied to do some research in costa rica. If I get into the program I might need this.

Great blog btw, Following

Malkavian said...

Damn bro, That snake sure is one pissed off reptile. Sorry to hear that of your friends wife.

Coco said...

Wow.. so creepy.. nice post

Anton Nuemus said...

like this animals :)

Tasos said...

First of all, 10minutes ago, I loved snakes...these are the nastiest infections I've ever seen in my life! I rather admire them from youtube Secondly, thanks for being one of the few who participated on that mini game on by blog. I really appreciate it. (although I asked to answer only 5, you went for all of them! **thumbs up**)

Kim Anders said...

wouw snakes :I

skinned sheep said...

gotta love snakes

Lhosreiff said...

Snakes are the coolest.

Trelin said...

I guess I'm marking Costa Rica off my travel list.