Símon Bolívar zoo becomes the new home for two new serpents

Fundación Pro Zoológicos photos A fer-de-lance peeks from within its coils A green vine snake can anchor itself with its tail

The zoo in north San José has acquired two snakes, including one that is the bad boy of the country.

The zoo is the Parque Zoológico Símon Bolívar. The new additions are a green vine snake (oxybelis fulgidus), called bejuquilla verde in Spanish, and the species that is responsible for the bulk of the poisonous snake bites in Costa Rica, the fer-de-lance.

The fer-de-lance (bothrops asper) is called a terciopelo in Spanish. Almost always when a security ministry helicopter is called upon to transport a youngster from the country to a major hospital for snakebite, this is the culprit.

The two snakes join the Joyas del Bosque Tropical exhibition.
The vine snake, which is not poisonous to humans, is a tree dweller. Sometimes it is confused with poisonous snakes that look similar. The zoo said that one reason for exhibiting it is to let people identify it so they would not mistake it for the more dangerous palm pit viper (bothriechis lateralis).

Not only is the fer-de-lance poisonous, it also is cranky and aggressive, exactly the traits that lead to more bites. A typical adult is about six feet. This snake lives on the ground although younger members of the species are known to climb trees.

Both types of snakes can be found over much of Costa Rica. Both live on frogs, lizards and small mammals.

The zoo is open each day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the admission is 2,200 colons for adults and 1,500 for youngsters between 3 and 12. Those younger can enter for free.

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