Selva Verde- Heart of the Rainforest

After spending last week in sunny Florida, where the temperatures were a balmy 80-85 degrees, I am finding these last few days of low 20s here in Massachusetts a little hard to bare. And so I am inspired to reflect on the final stop of our 2012 Costa Rican adventure.

Selva Verde is located in the central part of Costa Rica where you truly feel like you are in the deep jungle. We stayed at La Selva Lodge located beside the Sarapiqui River, and in our two nights there, were treated to more amazing wildlife.

Red-eyed tree frog at night

Red-eyed tree frog

A highlight for me were the frogs we encountered. Our first night, we were treated to several red-eyed tree frogs foraging among the vegetation around an artificial pond at the lodge. These frogs have become a symbol of sorts for rainforests, and to see one in the wild was spectacular.

Resting red-eyed tree frog

Resting red-eyed tree frog

Tree frog eggs hanging above the water

Tree frog eggs hanging above the water

In the morning, we were able to find one frog sleeping on a palm frond next to the pond, and also located an egg mass neatly attached to a leaf, dangling over the water that would eventually become the home of the tadpoles that emerged.

Green and black dart frog

Green and black dart frog

Further investigation of the lodge area revealed two types of poison dart frogs. It is truly remarkable to see these little jewels jumping free around the forest.

Strawberry dart frog, aka a blue jeans frog for its blue legs.

Strawberry dart frog, aka a blue jeans frog for its blue legs.

Of course, we couldn’t miss a boat trip down the Sarapiqui River, which yielded more incredible birds

Sungrebe

Sungrebe

Broad-billed mot mot

Broad-billed mot mot

and our only trip siting of a three-toed sloth!!

A three-toed sloth lounging in a tree

A three-toed sloth lounging in a tree

Costa Rica Dreaming

A while back I promised more about some wonderful exotic vacations my family has been privileged to take over the last couple of years.  Today, I find myself housebound due to the latest “snowpocalypse” to hit Massachusetts, and dreaming of those lush, tropical places, so it seemed a perfect time to reflect on one of these incredible journies.

American crocodiles on the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

American crocodiles on the Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

In March of 2012, we were treated to 8 days in the gorgeous country of Costa Rica.  Our first of three stops on this trip was to the mid-Pacific coast, near the Tarcoles River, famous for American crocodiles, where we stayed at Villa Lapas (home of macaws).

Scarlet macaw from the balcony of our room.

Scarlet macaw from the balcony of our room.

Blue-grey tanagers. One of my favorites!

Blue-grey tanagers. One of my favorites!

As avid wildlife watchers, we spent our time looking for the astounding diversity of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and insects in the region.

A leaf-toed gecko in our open air shower.

A leaf-toed gecko in our open air shower.

An anhinga drying its wings along the river.

An anhinga drying its wings along the river.

Franklin weaves a grasshopper from a palm frond.

Franklin weaves a grasshopper from a palm frond.

We took a boat trip along parts of the river, and one day, woke at the crack of dawn to visit Carrara National Park with our dedicated bird guide Franklin.

A stunning Costa Rican breakfast!

A stunning Costa Rican breakfast!

We enjoyed an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables (the pineapple was my favorite), really good coffee, and tremendously warm, wonderful people during our stay at Villa Lapas.

Ranier making us fresh Costa Rican coffee.

Ranier making us fresh Costa Rican coffee.

Stay tuned for more Costa Rican adventures.  Next stop, Arenal volcano!

The beginning . . .

People often ask me if I grew up in a home of “exotic” pets.  Did I have a snake, turtle or lizard as a kid?  Did I bring home frogs and newts from the local pond ?  Did I keep bugs in jars in my room?  The honest answer is “no.”

I had cats and a dog.  I caught grasshoppers and fireflies in my yard, but always released them by the end of the day.  I did try to “keep” a wooly bear caterpillar for a while, but other than that, I had pretty run-of-the-mill pets.

Isis, a snow corn snake

Isis, a snow corn snake (1992-2006)

I didn’t adopt my first snake until I was well into my 20s.  He came to me as “Elvis,” a name given to him by his previous owners.  “Elvis” quickly turned into “Isis”, when I discovered that he was a she.  Isis was a two year old corn snake, and she remained my only exotic pet until I started acquiring animals for Teaching Creatures in 2003.  She was one of the original Teaching Creatures.

Terra, a ball python

Terra, a ball python

Another was Terra.  Terra was a four-year-old ball python when I adopted her in August of 2003.  It was a classic story:  A family had purchased her at a pet store for their 12 year old son, and after three years or so, his interest in her had waned.  He was driving, working and otherwise occupied with his high school career, and his parents noticed he wasn’t taking her out, cleaning her cage or feeding her on a regular basis, and decided it was time they found a new home for her.  She was the first animal I adopted for Teaching Creatures, and after 10 years, she remains a very active part of my programs.  With good care and a little luck, she will continue to be so for years to come.