For many people, no creature evokes the kind of disgust and horror that snakes do, and this country has an abundance of slithering serpents known to have deadly dentures.
But the reality is that snakebites are few and far-between. On average, 504 people are bit per year in all of Costa Rica, according to a review of medical facility data by Mahmood Sasa from the University of Costa Rica. And thanks to the advent of powerful and very toxic antivenins, most snakebite victims, like Pelada resident Sophie Ballegeer, survive the experience.
What to Do If You Are Bitten
But what if the unimaginable actually happens? Keep calm.
If you’re bitten, go to the hospital immediately. Do not try to suck or apply pressure to the bite. Only hospitals keep antivenin in stock because the antidote has bad side effects, so it has to be administered in a facility which can monitor and control the effects.
Local Poisonous Snakes to Avoid
Coral Snake – Black, yellow and red banding across the body, extremely venomous. Its very small teeth and meek disposition mean that it rarely bites, and it cannot bite through leather and other tough materials.
Fer-de-Lance – French for “spearhead.” It has black, brown and green mottled colours with dark blotches along its back. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes in Costa Rica.
Eyelash Viper – Also called the “Bocaraca” in Spanish. The eyelash viper can have several color variations and combinations of red, yellow, brown, green and pink. It is a small, tree-inhabiting snake, averaging about 2.5 feet in length, but don’t let the size fool you— its bite is still dangerous.
Tropical Rattlesnake – “Cascabel” in Spanish, for its rattling sound when disturbed. This rattlesnake is one of the larger species of venomous snakes in Costa Rica. Its venom is neurotoxic, very strong, and has effects on the operation of the eyes– some bite victims go permanently blind from late or inadequate treatment.
Bushmaster – The king of venomous snakes in Costa Rica can reach lengths of up to 8 feet. It is easily the largest venomous snake in the country and has an added danger of being able to strike with multiple bites. Luckily, it’s a nocturnal predator and usually will be avoided by people for this reason.
With report from By Giordano Ciampini, Voice of Nosara