Surprise visitor: Rare Bromeliad Boa

A couple of nights ago we had a surprise visitor next to our restaurant. A beautiful bromeliad boa (Ungaliophis panamensis) was resting calmly on a large leaf. Contrary to what its name would probably suggest, this snake is actually not part of the "Boa family" (Boidae) but is the only member of the dwarf boas (Tropidophiidae) family here in Costa Rica. Little is known about these little snakes (up to 60 cms long), they occupy a range of habitats from lowland rainforest to highland pine-oak forests to cloud forests. Their vertical distribution ranges from sea level to 2,300 m elevation. As their common name implies, they are known to inhabit bromeliads and other epiphytic vegetation. To the delight of our guests, this bromeliad boa gave us some excellent photographic opportunities.