Herping Ecuador

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Mark
Posts: 25
Joined: July 30th, 2017, 2:24 pm

Herping Ecuador

Post by Mark » April 7th, 2020, 5:27 pm

So I spent about 5 months in South America this past winter, 3 of those months in Ecuador where I did quite a lot of herping. Not all but most in just 3 locations; Reserva Los Cedros for 2 weeks, another 2 weeks at Sumak Kawsay In Situ and 3 weeks at Heimatlos Eco Lodge. I was volunteering cutting/maintaining hiking trails at all 3 locations. So spending about 4 hours or so per day cutting trails and about 2 to 3 hours each night out herping. I saw almost nothing during the day - seriously not much more than handful of snakes in all that time while out cutting trails. The night hiking was of course much more productive though. Not at Los Cedros though. An absolutely beautiful place and a birders paradise, but perhaps mostly too high in altitude (1300 to 1700m) to be a great herping destination (for snakes anyways, there's quite a few really interesting frogs there). Sumak Kawsay, despite being relatively high altitude as well (~1200 to 1400m) proved to be really good for snakes. Likewise I had decent luck at Heimatlos (~700 to 1000m) despite the really dry conditions while I was there.

In total I found 4 species of pit vipers and 22 species of colubrids. Sounds ok, but Ecuador has both 17 species of pit vipers and 17 species of coral snakes. So it was definitely a bummer to completely strike out on the coral snakes and wish I'd found a few more species of pit vipers. That said, I was mostly too high in altitude to be in range of the majority of those species. So for anyone going to Ecuador I would recommend the lowland rainforests in the Northwest (the Choco) or the lower Amazon to really find a larger variety of species. Unfortunately for those destinations there's no real budget options (or not that I'm aware of). So as a backpacker on a budget the expensive lodges were not an option for me. Anyways, I would at least certainly recommend Sumak Kawsay as a terrific budget herping destination. And if you're willing to volunteer and swing a machete for a few hours a day, Heimatlos would likewise be a great option.

Cheers,
M.

Species List:

Small-eyed Toadheaded Pit Viper (Bothrocophias microphelamus) - 2
Andean Forest Pit Viper (Bothriopsis pulchra)
Fer-de-lance (Bothrops atrox) - 5
Chocoan Lancehead (Bothrops punctatus)

Rainbow Forest Racer (Dendrophidion clarkii) - 6
Olive Forest Racer (Dendrophidion dendrophis)
Humpback Shadow-Snake (Diaphorolepis wagneri) - 2
Greater Groundsnake (Atratus major)
Amazon Coffee snake (Ninia hudsoni) - 2
Banded Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira annulatus)
Common Blunt-headed Snake (Imantodes cenchoa) - 5
Spectacled Blunt-headed Snake (Imantodes lentiferus) - 2
Amazon Scarlet Snake (Pseudoboa coronata)
Mussurana (Cleia cleia) - 2
Coral Groundsnake (Atractus elaps)
Green-striped Vine Snake (Philodryas argentea) - 4
Yellow-headed Flame-snake (Oxyrhopus occipitalis)
Amazon Flame-snake (Oxyrhopus digitalis)
Western Flame-snake (Oxyrhopus sebae)
Imposter Flame-snake (Oxyrhopus vanidicus)
Pavonine Snail-eating Snake (Dipsas pavonina)
Brown-banded Watersnake (Helicops angulatus) - 4
Green Whipsnake (Chironius exoletus) - 3
Black-collared Snake (Drepanoides anomalus)
Attachments
Bothrops atrox
Bothrops atrox
Oxyrhopus sebae - female
Oxyrhopus sebae - female
Bothrops atrox
Bothrops atrox
Chironius exoletus
Chironius exoletus
Chironius exoletus
Chironius exoletus
Bothrops atrox
Bothrops atrox
Helicops angulatus
Helicops angulatus
Imantodes lentiferus
Imantodes lentiferus
Dipsas pavonina
Dipsas pavonina
Oxyrhopus occipitalis
Oxyrhopus occipitalis
Oxyrhopus digitalis
Oxyrhopus digitalis
Philodryas argentea
Philodryas argentea
Philodryas argentea
Philodryas argentea
Imantodes cenchua
Imantodes cenchua
Bothrops punctatus
Bothrops punctatus
Bothrops punctatus
Bothrops punctatus
B. microphelamus found beside an obviously too big to eat squirrel that it had regurgitated
B. microphelamus found beside an obviously too big to eat squirrel that it had regurgitated
Cleia cleia - juvenile
Cleia cleia - juvenile
Bothriopsis pulchra
Bothriopsis pulchra
Bothriopsis pulchra, by far my favourite find of the trip, and to find it munching on a mouse was especially neat.
Bothriopsis pulchra, by far my favourite find of the trip, and to find it munching on a mouse was especially neat.
Bothrops atrox
Bothrops atrox
Bothrocophias microphelamus
Bothrocophias microphelamus
Dendrophidion clarki
Dendrophidion clarki
Dendrophidion clarki
Dendrophidion clarki
Diaphorolepis wagneri
Diaphorolepis wagneri

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orionmystery
Posts: 672
Joined: December 26th, 2012, 11:48 pm
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by orionmystery » April 30th, 2020, 6:40 pm

Love the viper swallowing prey shot, and all the colorful snakes!!! <3. I had no idea it's that expensive to herp in Ecuador! What a shame.

I love coral snakes but unfortunately, we don't get that many species here.

Mark
Posts: 25
Joined: July 30th, 2017, 2:24 pm

Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by Mark » April 30th, 2020, 8:20 pm

Hey Kurt,

So well I guess expensive is a relative term. For some people, if they're only down for a quick weeks vacation, it might not seem like much at all to spend $150 - $300/night. And I suppose it really isn't much for an all inclusive stay at a remote rainforest lodge. But by backpackers standards that's still pretty expensive. That said, for the possibility of having found a coral or two.. kinda wish I'd spent the money :/

Malaysia might not have many species of corals but you guys got I think the most beauty one there is, and of course I'm referring to the gorgeous Malaysian blue coral snake. Still annoyed that I never found one last winter, grumble grumble.

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orionmystery
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Joined: December 26th, 2012, 11:48 pm
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by orionmystery » April 30th, 2020, 9:40 pm

Yeah, our blue coral snakes are really cool. You'll have to find both the Peninsular subspecies and the Bornean subspecies:

Peninsular: Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps
ImageCalliophis bivirgatus_MG_5170 copy by Kurt (Orionmystery) G, on Flickr

Borneo: Calliophis bivirgatus tetrataenia
ImageCalliophis bivirgatus_MG_2646 copy by Kurt (Orionmystery) G, on Flickr

Mark
Posts: 25
Joined: July 30th, 2017, 2:24 pm

Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by Mark » May 1st, 2020, 5:54 am

Wow, great pics and beauty snakes. I think I have a slight preference for the peninsular subspecies since it really has that proper blue coloration.

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orionmystery
Posts: 672
Joined: December 26th, 2012, 11:48 pm
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by orionmystery » May 3rd, 2020, 8:50 pm

Get both! :D

Missing the forest and the wildlife so much! Not allowed to exercise outdoors. No hiking, no herping either. As soon as this is over, I will go camp at the substation and herp till i drop!

Mark
Posts: 25
Joined: July 30th, 2017, 2:24 pm

Re: Herping Ecuador

Post by Mark » May 5th, 2020, 5:24 am

Oh bummer, ya I'd go crazy being stuck in the city for too long. As is I'm lucky to be both living and working in the middle of the forest. So plenty of wildlife but unfortunately, with the exception of one species of frog, there's zero herps this far north. So I'll have to wait until October before I can (hopefully, but perhaps not depending on the travel situation) go somewhere tropical and snakey. Anyhow, hopefully you'll be able to get back out herping sooner rather than later!

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