Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Lateralis Are Blue, But That's a GOOD THING!

Every once in a while, Lady Luck hits you right smack dab in the head with something that's just too good to be true. That was the case when, in June of 2006, I purchased a pair of newly imported, weeks-old Bothriechis lateralis, more commonly known as the Side-striped palm pitviper. From time to time, I had seen freshly imported adults for sale but, from bad past experiences with imported, wild-caught snakes, I never took the chance. Imported babies, on the other hand, were too tempting to pass up.

They arrived promptly in McAllen on Delta Airlines on June 26th at 12:52 pm. But, anyone who has ever shipped live snakes knows the nightmares that evolve during the process and this shipment was no different. Even before leaving Brownsville for the hour-long trek to McAllen, I had called Delta Cargo to make sure the snakes were en route. Yes, I was told, and the flight from Atlanta was on time. Upon arriving at the Delta Ticket Counter in McAllen, I was told no live animals were on the flight. Before I pitched too big of a fit, I asked them to check for a Delta Dash package. Yes, it was on board and the air bill number matched. I started to wonder exactly where they had put the box since "no live animals" were on the flight. Was it actually in the plane or stuffed in the non-pressurized luggage hold. Would the snakes even be alive?

Once the box was brought to the counter, I was asked to sign off on the air bill. By signing, you're giving your assurance that the contents are alive, undamaged or whatever the case may be. Since I didn't know where the box had been during the flight and the gentleman at the counter couldn't tell me, I refused. I then asked if I could open the box to check if the snakes were alive. "NOT IN THE TERMINAL", which was exactly the answer I expected. I quickly walked to the car and unscrewed each wood screw with my re-chargeable screwdriver. Upon removing the lid, two small brown heads looked curiously up at me from inside their individual deli cups.

In their native habitat of Costa Rica and Panama, lateralis (as they're known in the herp world) are typically emerald or bluish green. A very few prized specimens in private collections are brilliant turquoise blue. When I purchased mine, I had no way of knowing that with each shed of their skin, a special color would emerge. Lady Luck has indeed smacked me.

The typical color phase of the Bothriechis lateralis. This is one of our "normal" males.

After a few meals, the new babies pose for photos. This is the male.

This is the female.

Several months later, the female, in the middle of her color change.

The male showing off his adult colors this past Sunday evening.

The female with her black mask and smoking "gun-metal blue" color.

Recently, I've posted the female's photos on two different venomous snake forums so people around the world can see her special color. So far, no one has seen this color in an adult lateralis. Just how rare is she? That's the question I hope to soon answer.

16 comments:

geoff said...

Did you ever sign off on the air bill or is the idiot still waiting for you! Anyways he probably thinks the snakes are poisonous. Cool Pics and interesting facts. Let us know how rare they maybe and what that means to the future of your hobby/"business".

LaVibora - Jim Campbell said...

I never did sign the air bill. The man at the ticket counter said if I didn't come back in, he'd know there were no problems with the shipment and could sign for me.

And, for the 1,734th time, the word is VENOMOUS!!!!!

darlene said...

Excellent photos! The transformations are always interesting and often amazing! Is it just my imagination, or is the blue still evolving? It looks a shade deeper to me.

Jungle Pete said...

Do you know Tom Crutchfield out of Fort Lauderdale? I think he works for Strictly Reptile. He's the proverbialy walking encyclopedia on all things reptile. I'd be glad to pass you question along if you like.

LaVibora - Jim Campbell said...

Thanks BABY! Again, you only say that because you love me. I think the colors are still evolving on both. The female gets a touch darker with each shed and her black mask becomes more pronounced.

Pete - My we have a short memory! I asked you about Tom several months back, when I saw his photo on your company website (not sure if it's still there). You said you'd say hello for me. Yes, I've known him for years and used to visit him when I lived in Tallahassee. I'll forgive you this time and chalk it up to you having to shower with a gator!!

darlene said...

Yes, I do love you BUT I wouldn't make it up just because I'm biased! I may not be an expert but I do recognize something beautiful when I see!

XXXX said...

Congrats Jim!

Aggie92 said...

What does venomus mean?

LaVibora - Jim Campbell said...

Thanks Baby, they are indeed beautiful.

Hi X! Glad you made it home, safely from Italy! We're still waiting IMPATIENTLY for a blog post about your trip.

Mike - I thought even an Aggie would know that when a word gets flagged, it's usually misspelled. Now, for the 1,735th time, the word is VENOMOUS, not venomUS. Spell it with me. V E N O M O U S.

Aggie92 said...

It was a typo and I thought I had spelled it the way you did. So what does venomous mean, not venomus?

LaVibora - Jim Campbell said...

Mike - Next time you visit, I'll let you become "one with the eyelash viper". You'll then know what venomous means. You should probably then seek medical attention.

Beth&Leo said...

As usual, very nice... have already forwarded to some of my "snakophile" friends. beth

Michelle said...

Wow! They are beautiful! I can only imagine what they look like in person because I think they weren't anywhere near their current colors last time we were over. Good luck at the expo!

L.A. Mitchell said...

As snakes go, they are beautiful. Any more Aggie cracks and I'll have to revoke my "Blogging with a Purpose" award :)

Derek said...

How did I not comment on this earlier? I guess my back burner gets a little full sometimes, sorry.

Anyway, some people have all the luck!!!! You get some little brown worms from FLA and they turn into beautiful blue specimens like that! Wow! I want babies from these guys for sure. Now to work some of your magic when they are old enough!

Border Cowboy said...

It's been over a week, Jim. What color are they now?

This is all very nice, but you need to hook up w/ your herpin' buddy in Silver City for some real colors (Gila Monster, Sonoran Mountain King Snake, Arizona Coral Snake).

Sorry. My southwestern bias surfaces again. I'll be good.