Re: NANFA-- More SC collecting - July 22, 2002

Christopher Scharpf (
Thu, 25 Jul 2002 13:29:53 GMT

> Right there in the picture was an actively swimming Coral snake.

This reminds me of one of my Amazon adventures. We were hiking
through the jungle at night, and two of us, me and a Vancouver herp
student named Brent, got separated from the group. Under the nights of
our headlamps, we were sampling a small rainpool. A snake slithered
around our dipnet. Brent, who was hoping to finance some of this trip by
taking wildlife photos and selling them to photo stock houses, wanted to
catch the snake so that he could photograph it. Unfortunately, we weren't
properly outfitted for catching snakes in the dark. I held the light while
Brent poked through the bottom mud of the pool, hoping to the scare the
snake into the dipnet. He scared the snake alright. As Brent tried to grab it,
it planted its fangs into Brent's wrist. Not all the way, but far enough.
Suffice it to say, the snake got away.

"You didn't just happen to notice what kind of snake that was?" Brent

I know next to nothing about snakes, but knew there were only 2 species
in this section of the rainforest we had to worry about. The bushmaster
(which this obviously was not), and the (banded?) coral snake, which lives
in water.

"Well," I said, feeling a deep sense of dread moving in upon us, "It had
bands and lives in the water."

"I don't think he really got me, but just in case...."

Brent pulled from his back-pack an anti-venom kit, basically a syringe big
enough to inject a horse. We were about a mile's hike back to base camp.

"We'll walk back slowly," Brent said. "And if anything starts to happen to
me, just pull down my pants and give me the shot."

"Okay," I said. I had never injected anyone with a needle before, except
myself, by accident. (I was dogsitting a diabetic dog and had to give it daily
insulin injections. One day the dog squirmed and I plunged the needle
into the hand that was attempting to hold the dog still. Ouch.)

Anyhow, it was the longest one-mile hike in my life. And Brent's. But we
made it back to camp just fine. We told our nature guide, Segundo, what
happened, and I drew a little sketch of the snake's pattern.

"Oh, that's the *false* banded coral snake," Segundo said. "Harmless."

Which was a good thing, because I had no desire to see Brent's ass.

Chris Scharpf
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