A new species of snake was identified in our country in recent weeks. It is the dwarf snake of Barbour (Trimetopon Barburi, Dipsadidae), which had only been seen previously in Panama. This reptile was found in Drake Bay, on the Osa Peninsula, by 2 naturalist guides resident in the area, Gianfranco Gómez and Tracie Stice, during a night walk.

The associate researcher of the Zoology Museum of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), Alejandro Solórzano, explained that for months they were trying to identify the snake. However, they had failed to capture her for due study.

Dwarf snake of Barbour

“These meetings are a pure coincidence because these 2 people -because of my work throughout the country I got to know them pretty well- told me that they found a snake and I would like to know what it is. In the first instance, it seemed to me that it was a known species for the country, but I asked to see a copy to review it carefully”.

After several attempts, so far they managed to catch this snake, I went to bring it the previous week and already review it well we fell into the surprise that it is a species that was not in the country. It is an endemic snake, or that it was only in Panamanian territory, and now we are clear that it was here in Costa Rica as well”, said the expert.

These snakes are not poisonous, they are characterized by being small, not measuring more than 30 centimeters, of terrestrial and semi-fossorial habits; of which very little is known about its biology, in general. In addition, among what has been discovered so far is that its feeding is made of eggs and larvae of invertebrates.

It belongs to a group made up of 6 species that are similar, in Costa Rica the other 5 had already been identified previously. “With this type of snake, since they are very small, they live among the leaf litters of the forest floor and even get into caves underground, so they are very difficult to observe (…) We know little about them; they are what we call secretive animals because their behavior is very elusive. They move only during the night”, explained Solórzano.

Barbour’s dwarf snake has a brown background with cream and black stripes, in addition to white spots on the head, and its belly is yellow. These characteristics, plus the counting of the scales, are those that help identify the type of species.

“The copy is in the Zoology Museum of the University of Costa Rica, there is assigned an official number and now they must make an official report to publish it in the ‘Herpetological Review’ where we will show the international scientific community the expanded scope of this species”, concluded the researcher. Currently, in Costa Rica, there are 144 species of snakes identified.

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