Smelling a Rat   2 comments

Felipe del Bosque Blog Feb 7th 2011

Boa constrictor

A Light Sprinkling

The temperatures continue to rise with daily highs in the region of 94 °f (23°C).  The rains have all but stopped, any precipitation now being negligible, a result of early morning condensation.  This is regular dry season weather; hot, dry and sunny.  It also means that the forest floor is rapidly drying up.  In the gardens around the Bosque restaurant, the gardening team has set up the water sprinklers which come on at night providing a little light refreshment for the thirsty plant life.

Otter and Skunk

the beginning of the month, generally finds me making that once a month trip into town to purchase another 30 days supplies of non comestibles.  On this occasion, while approaching a small river that we have to cross, we noticed something running upstream in the shallow water.  This time of year the water level is low and therefore too shallow for anything of great size to swim.  This particular creature despite having its head beneath the surface, we could make out as an otter, a Neotropical Otter.  It was running against the current and more than likely chasing small fish.  It came out of the water, turned around, walked back and entered the water again, repeating the cycle of activity.  I have lived here for eleven years and this was my first ever sighting of an otter.

A few days later, while lying in my bed, having just retired for the evening, I could hear something snuffling around outside my cabin.  As I was not quite asleep, I got out of bed, took my flashlight and went outside to see what it could be.  The stems of the heliconias were shaking as whatever it was moved through, so I just stood and waited.  Emerging from the vegetation in front of me was a Striped Hog-nosed Skunk.  It paid me no heed whatsoever and continued on its nocturnal perambulations into the forest.

The Boa Bar – Quite Literally

One night in the restaurant, halfway through the evening meal, a group of seated diners became distracted by movement in the roof above their heads.  Moving sinuously and furtively from the dry leaves of the thatch was a juvenile boa, (Boa constrictor).  It provided not a little consternation and a great photographic opportunity.

Two days later the boa turned up in the aptly named “Boa Bar”.  We had some Danish visitors staying at the lodge who had previously visited us ten years earlier.  On the occasion of their first visit, I had found a large boa with which the two young girls had been photographed, me holding its head.  Now ten years later and in their late teens, they could recreate the scene but with a decade of difference between.

A Profusion of Biodiversity

On one morning tour as the group I was leading exited the Zapatero Trail into the Tropical Garden, we had a big monkey performance.  Spider Monkeys manically made their way swinging through the tree tops, psychotically screaming and screeching as they went, in typical Spider Monkey fashion.  A troupe of Howler Monkeys languidly sat at the top of a large fig tree, tolerant of the Spider Monkey antics, so long as they didn’t get too close.  At a lower level, at the where the forest edge borders the garden, a large troupe of Squirrel Monkeys searched for insect prey.

As the group were watching the monkey display, a beautiful Double-tooth Kite, flew in and snatched from the air a katydid that had been flushed by the monkey activity.  Down on the beach some our visitors had been watching a Mangrove Black Hawk fish a large eel from a pool which it then proceeded to consume.

Dry season activity continues unabated.  Mammals, birds and butterflies are out in abundance.  With every week, the butterfly numbers continue to increase, almost doubling in individual numbers every seven days.  During this week’s butterfly transect count, I recorded 374 butterflies of 40 species in the morning, 225 butterflies of 33 species in the afternoon, giving a total species count for the day of 52 different butterflies.  We have yet to reach the zenith of butterfly activity, so I am expecting those numbers, as incredible as it may seem, to increase substantially over the next few weeks.

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Photo Feature

Boa constrictor

Boa constrictors are not uncommonly found around the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.  Smaller juveniles are quite often encountered in and around human habitation where they find small rodents which constitute the bulk of their prey.

Larger individuals are normally found in the forest or in the gardens.  They attain an adult length normally in the region of 6 – 9 feet and a weight of 40 – 60 lbs.  The adults will feed on Agoutis, opossums and the occasional coati.

Although when seen out of context, the coloration of a boa are rich in hue and pattern, when placed on the forest floor amongst dead leaves, it would take a very keen eye to pick out the camouflaged serpentine form which blends perfectly with the background.

Boa constrictor

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 93°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.02 ins

Average Daily Temp High 33.5 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.3 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.1 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.5 mm

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • Capuchin Monkey
  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Agouti
  • Neotropical Otter
  • Stripe Hog-nosed Skunk
  • Virginia Opossum
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Red-tailed Squirrel


  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Great Currasow
  • Lineated Woodpecker
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Crested Caracara
  • Double-tooth Kite
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Roadside Hawk
  • Rufus Piha
  • Chestnut-backed Antbirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Crested Owl
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus-tailed Hummingbird
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Basilisk
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Boa Constrictor
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake


  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Milky Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog


  • Adepha basiloides
  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anthanassa ardys
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Battus polydamus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Callimormus radiola
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Cissia confuse
  • Colobura dirce
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Eueides procula
  • Euptychia westwoodi
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Gorgythion begga
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Hyalthyrus neleus
  • Junonia everete
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho menelaus
  • Morpho theseus
  • Nastra julia
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Perophthalma lassus
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Polites vibex
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrisitia proterpia
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Staphylus mazans
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna


  • Golden Cortez flowering
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree flowering and fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Fruiting
  • Garlic Tree Flowering
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Flowering
  • Heisteria fruiting


2 responses to “Smelling a Rat

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  1. Us usual, great job Phillip!


  2. Hi Phillip, I am so happy I found your blog. As a two time BDC visitor I love reading about what’s going on. You now have an avid follower.

    I also love the fact that after 11 years, you can still have a “first” encounter. Are there any other native mammal species that you have not yet seen?


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