Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Night Walk

We are enjoying a series of "chats" at The Club of Los Altos de Cerro Azul. PACAR, a group of local homeowners, organizes the events, everything from wine tastings to lectures on bird life in the area.
Students from the University of Panamá spent 3 nights here looking for venomous critters, then shared their findings with us at the talk. Additionally, Dr. Hildaura A. de Patiño related results of medical surveys of bites and stings throughout the country. Teams from many agencies are looking to create and improve venom antidotes for medical use. One of the scorpions that is toxic, Tityus cerroazul, is found primarily in Los Altos de Cerro Azul. Luckily it is very secretive, since there is no treatment for its sting.
courtesy: Roberto J. Miranda

A few homeowners went with students John, Carla, and Pablo around the development on after-dark night walks looking for snakes and scorpions. As you might suspect we didn't find a specimen of Tityus cerroazul. But, several other species of scorpion were present, both poisonous and non-poisonous. We learned the toxic ones have smaller claws that make it harder to handle prey, so they use the stinger in their longer tail to subdue them.

And we did find one snake: Bothrops asper, the fer-de-lance is also called "equis" here in Panama. The poisonous pit-vipers can be identified by their pointed heads and vertical eye slits. The UP students are collecting venom of these snakes to improve medical treatments.

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