Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Big Boa in Gamboa

You never know what you're going to find here, Gamboa is full of surprises.  Being surrounded by Soberania National Park, the Panama Canal and Chagres River, the wildlife here is abundant.  Even right in town, where it is not difficult to find frogs, lizards, birds, interesting insects and more.  

There are many snakes around town, but aren't encountered as frequently as a lot of the other animals, not by me anyways.  However, the other day, I was heading out of town with a friend when we passed a truck pulled over on the side of the road and two men with cameras pointed at the grass.  Then I took a quick glance, and saw a large Boa Constrictor!  So we pulled over and got out to take a look.  
Boa Constrictor
Boa Constrictor 
Boa Constrictors are a well-known snake native to the lowland tropical forests of Central and South America.  They are a large, heavy-bodied snake that can reach up to 4 metres in length and can weigh more than 100 lbs.  As their name suggests, they are "constrictors", killing their prey by wrapping their strong, muscular body around their prey, slowly squeezing them to death.  They hunt just about anything they can catch, such as monkeys, otters, birds and peccaries.  Boa Constrictors are hunted for their ornately-patterned skin and due to other pressures including habitat loss, they are considered an endangered species in many countries.  

This snake looked like it had just eaten a good meal, perhaps an agouti it found in town.  As it sat on the grass, this boa was being pestered by people and dogs, at which it defended itself well.  Eventually, with a rainstorm around mid-day, the snake retreated out of sight, back into the woodlot.  To me and a lot of other people I know, snake sightings are always exciting.  We have to give these graceful, capable reptiles more credit as they play an important role in their environment.  I'm always looking forward to the next snake I see...

~ Jenn 

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