Documentary Moment

Some weeks ago, walking around Tranquilo Bay’s gardens with a group of naturalists, we had a “documentary moment.”   One of those moments that every naturalist in the world hopes to experience every time they start hiking into the woods.  While we were enjoying some beautiful heliconia flowers, we heard a sound that caught our attention. At first, we thought it was a bird, but we could not identify the call so, we all started searching for the origin of the sounds.

Wildlife Panama

It took us a few moments to scan around with our binoculars to find the cause of the mysterious sound.  And … there it was, from a hole in a coconut palm-tree emerged the back part of a snake, shaking.   It seemed to us that it was trying to get deeper in the hole. On the inside, some thing was the “sound maker” so we knew the hunter but not the prey. We were clearly going to wait to get the answer to our question, and we did.The snake, we identified as a tiger tree snake (Spilotes pullatus), kept moving slowly but, suddenly, after a fast movement of the snake’s body, a Central American woolly opossum (Caluromys derbianus) emerged from the snake´s hole with a big jump to the ground.  After a seven-foot jump right in front of us, she looked scared (of course) but she acted calmly, in a way that surprised us because, instead of escaping fast, she looked at us and started climbing the spotting scope we were carrying.

Panama Wildlife Nocturnal Mammal

It was a perfect day view of a nocturnal mammal.  Its big eyes stared at us and its chest moved in and out fast.  I guess it was recovering from its odyssey with the tiger tree snake but it felt like it knew that we were not a threat. Then, it calmly jumped off of the scope and went into the forest.

Nature in action, no better experience for a naturalist.  The smile on our faces seemed to be tattooed.  Our faces were going to change again to attentive mode when, from the same hole where the snake was still trying to back get into the tree, another opossum jumped, precisely at the same place as the first one.  It smelled around and took the same route as the other one including making its way to the top of the spotting scope and, as the other, calmly took its way to freedom. What a day!!! I thought, sure that it was a shared feeling.

After the Central American woolly opossums escaped, the tiger tree snake slowly left with what we all agreed was a big belly.  We were witnesses to the two opossums’ escape, but we will never know what exactly happened in that hole. For sure, we will not forget the “snake/opossum incident.”

Spilotes pullatus Panama

2 thoughts on “Documentary Moment

  1. Pingback: It’s all about perspective | Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge

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