avatarFeatured Eco Columnist
Elizabeth Mann

Fincas Naturales Wildlife Refuge is a 25 acre private wildlife refuge which features various nature exhibits and trails. It is located between Quepos and Manuel Antonio. The refuge performs research to establish new exhibits for the reproduction and protection of native endangered species in the local area. The refuge has three different exhibits which can be explored along with a tour guide. The current exhibits are the Aquatic Gardens, Butterfly Botonical Garden, and the Crocodile Lagoon. Guided tours are by appointment only. You can reserve a tour at their website. http://www.wildliferefugecr.com/wildlife_refuge_costa_rica_about_us.html

Our first tour was through the Crocodile Lagoon. Not only were there crocodiles, but also Caiman, herons, turtle,  various snakes, and The Jesus Christ Lizard. The exhibit has a suspended bridge to allow a birds eye view of the reptiles below. The enclosed lagoon is designed to be suited for the needs of these different reptiles.

In a separate enclosure were snakes and a Boa Constrictor. They are one of the largest and most common snakes in Costa Rica. Boas can grow to be more than 13 feet long and can weigh  more than 100 pounds. They are non- venomous so they must use their powerful muscles to squeeze their prey to death and then consume it whole. They will eat almost anything within their grasp such as monkey, wild pigs, and birds.

Spectacled Caiman and American Crocodiles  are protected and bred at the refuge. These species both have threats in the wild due to the combined effects of habitat destruction and illegal hunting. At the refuge they are fed live chicken and pork to fulfill their dietary needs. In the wild they feed on fish, amphibians, reptiles, aquatic invertebrates, and water birds.  Crocodiles stay hiding in the water during the day, preferring to come out at dawn or dusk when it is cooler. Crocodiles are cold blooded so they lay on top of each other to stay warm. What a relaxing life!