Beautiful Boa from Belize

Beautiful Boa from Belize – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This is a gorgeous snake from Belize, which was happily perched on a tree branch hanging over a river taking a nap. By far the most sizeable snake I have ever seen in the wild, I was so excited to be taking its photo. I was quite close to the snake, trying to get a good angle through the leaves, and even though I didn’t know what kind of snake I was dealing with, I knew that if it remained happily coiled, I was going to survive the encounter. After a few photographs, the snake was clearly aware of my presence and started darting its tongue in and out to get a sense of what I was. I persisted with my photographs, and to my relief the snake stayed happily relaxed and allowed me to get my photo. After showing this photo to a snake expert, I was told it is a boa constrictor, a serial asphyxiator, a snake who chokes for a living! I was photographing a snake that belongs to the family of largest snakes in the world, made up of anacondas, pythons and boa constrictors. What an incredible thrill!

A flag footed bug from Belize

Flag footed bug – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This brilliantly colored bug from Belize is called a flag footed bug and is also known as a leaf footed bug (Anisocelis flavolineata). It is found throughout Central America and comes in a variety of brilliant colors. There is very little information about them online, except that they can fly and are relatively harmless to humans. Although they can bite if provoked and it will sting a bit. The festive colors of this insect make it the perfect bug for the holiday season. Enjoy!

Sloths – how will they ever keep up?

Happy to be Hanging Out - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Happy to be Hanging Out – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Last week on the 20th of November it was international sloth day. These incredibly interesting and bizarre creatures were a highlight on my visit to Costa Rica. Honestly, they are one of those creatures that you hope you will see, but in reality never think you will be lucky enough to actually spot one. I was so very wrong… we actually saw quite a few. We were also lucky enough to see a couple of them on the move (although they move frustratingly slow, making you wonder how they get anywhere they want). You can imagine that in a world where things move so fast, and increasingly so, that these animals may not have a place in the future without a lot of help from humans. However for now, they always have a smile on their face and are truly happy just hanging around. After spotting a few on our own we decided to go on a guided sloth spotting tour to learn more about these fascinating creatures. The two photographs below were taken on a mobile phone through a telescopic lens that our guide had, so I cannot take credit for them, but they clearly show the differences between the two families of sloths. The first is a three-toed sloth with a darker fur, and the second a two-toed sloth with lighter fur.

Three-Toed Sloth
Three-Toed Sloth
Two-Toed Sloth
Two-Toed Sloth

We were lucky to have photos with their heads in them, as they mostly sleep all day, and all you often get to see while looking up into the trees is a furry bum. Being Australian, I think of them as the Central/South American cousin of the Koala. Both move quite slowly, live high up in the trees, spend most of their day sleeping (about 15-20 hours a day) and for the few hours a day they are awake they munch on leaves.

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Capuchin Madness

It takes time to be old and wise - Photograph by Laura Lecce
It takes time to be old and wise – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I was lucky enough to encounter many Capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. After watching them for some time, I was able to observe some of their relationships and behaviors. In the first image, I had clearly met one of the more senior and respected members of the group. This individual was happiest observing the humans that were observing him, and was quite content in sitting back and allowing the other younger capuchins to cause a raucous.

The Coast is Clear - Photograph by Laura Lecce
The Coast is Clear – Photograph by Laura Lecce

They often moved together as large family groups, and when they did it was like a tornado moving through the trees. At one point they needed to cross a road, and before letting the mums and bubs exit the safety of the trees, they sent out scouts (pictured in the second image) to make sure the coast was clear. Once the scouts gave the all clear, monkey after monkey came flying out of the trees to scurry across the road and back into the jungle. Some of their leaps from tree to tree were incredibly far and seemed very dangerous, but they were completely confident and surefooted.

Caught Making a Mess - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Caught Making a Mess – Photograph by Laura Lecce

The monkey pictured in this last photo was caught making quite a mess with the little fruits hanging from this palm tree. Surely a source of food for these cuties, but at times it looked like it was having more fun throwing the fruits to the ground than actually caring to eat them. I think their cute little faces easily fool humans into thinking they are very friendly, but in contrary they can be quite aggressive and territorial and wont hesitate to flash some pretty sharp canines if you get too close.