Amazing Kids! Magazine

Watch Where You Step in the Rainforest!

By Enzo Monfre, SciTech Kids! Columnist


On my recent trip to Costa Rica we explored at La Selva Biological Station. This amazing place is one of the most important sites in the world for research of tropical rainforests. Entering the reserve, we saw a brown basilisk lizard, two HUGE iguanas and a strange peacock-like creature.

During our trek through the rainforest reserve, our knowledgeable guide told us a fer-de-lance snake was spotted nearby… after about five minutes of searching I almost stepped on it! It was resting alongside the trail. The fer-de-lance is a venomous pit viper that is native to Costa Rica. It is mostly brown and tan which allows it to blend in perfectly with the forest floor.

There was an observation tower, which is over 25 meters or an eight story building tall! We put on helmets and a safety harness and climbed all the way up. Then we went across a very narrow bridge, one person at a time that went above the canopy, into the emergent layer. Every few minutes howler monkeys could be heard moaning in the distance.

When everyone was back on the ground, our guide found a Golden Eyelash viper resting in a tree. Even though it was only about five inches long, it was amazing.

The eyelash viper is a relatively small species that rarely exceeds 2.5 feet in length. They have a wide, triangular-shaped head, and eyes with vertical pupils. Like all pit vipers, fangs in the upper jaw fold back when not in use, and they have heat sensing pits, located on either side of the head between the eye and nostril. The most recognizable feature, and origin of its name, is the set of scales over the eyes that look like eyelashes. The eyelashes are thought to help with camouflage, breaking up the snake’s outline among the foliage where it hides.

One strange thing about rainforests in Costa Rica is the climate. It is nearly the same temperature year round (around 80 degrees F). The super high humidity makes it feel like three hundred degrees! We were really sweating.

While at La Selva, I tried a strange fruit called a Maman Chino (a.k.a. Rambutan). Maman Chinos are a small fruit covered in a fur that is similar to broom fibers (you don’t eat that part). The inside is transparent with a large seed in the middle. You eat the transparent inner layer. It tastes like cantaloupe… sort of.

The rainforest is a place where millions of animals exist in a small radius. So while walking around you have to look everywhere (including down). There are so many animals, you could spend your whole life and never see one of every animal.

Photos by: Pete Monfre