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Nature’s Nightmares: Snakes in a Cave

Halloween has its share of imaginary monsters: vampires, werewolves, zombies… But some of the most pervasive symbols of Halloween are real animals, animals that (rightly or wrongly) strike fear in countless people. When you think of Halloween, what creepy creatures come to mind? Bats? Snakes? Cockroaches? Toads?

Imagine being surrounded by these animals. All of them. Starting to sweat? You should be, because you’re deep inside a stiflingly hot cave, in utter darkness, mired ankle-deep in bat guano. You can’t see the bats, but you know they’re there; you can hear them squeaking as they fly overhead, and feel them as they brush past your skin. Does this sound like a nightmare?

It’s just an average day in a Puerto Rican bat cave, and it’s an environment that I recently chose to enter voluntarily. None of the cave’s inhabitants posed any real threat to me. But that didn’t mean that entering their bizarre subterranean world wasn’t a bit… unsettling.

In August, when I was in Puerto Rico conducting research on anoles, my friend Nate and I went on an expedition to find a particular cave, where – according to the stories we had heard – Puerto Rican Boas (Epicrates inornatus) would hang from the cave walls and capture bats in mid-air as the bats emerged to hunt for insects at nightfall. To a couple of die-hard biologists like us, it sounded too good to be true! Did we find the boas and witness their amazing hunting behavior? Watch the video to find out!

National Geographic Young Explorer Neil Losin (UCLA) and his colleague Nate Dappen (University of Miami) are biologists, photographers, and filmmakers. You can see more of their work at Day’s Edge Productions.

 

Comments

  1. Ashley J. Gonzalez
    Puerto Rico
    January 23, 2012, 9:17 pm

    This is amazing… trust me we puertoricans know a lot of “secret caves” and never reveals them bc of the harm that outsiders (an i mean everyone) can do. We also have one or the smallest frog on earth, its called coqui sabanero and thanks to a commercial development and no help from agencies is suffering and an endanger specie. it was discovered in 2009 and in the 2012 its in danger….ironic.

  2. Ash
    Puerto Rico
    January 23, 2012, 9:13 pm

    This is amazing… trust me we puertoricans know a lot of “secret caves” and never reveals them bc of the harm that outsiders (an i mean everyone) can do. We also have one or the smallest frog on earth, its called coqui sabanero and thanks to a commercial development and no help from agencies is suffering and an endanger specie. it was discovered in 2009 and in the 2012 its in danger….ironic.

  3. Noah McGill
    December 30, 2011, 5:42 pm

    Asome, interesting, and intertaneing. You should walch it.

  4. ParinelloTF
    USA
    November 25, 2011, 8:47 pm

    Great Story!!
    When I lived in Texas and Arizona the reality of Snakes as well as Scorpions were a reality. Baby Rattlers are as small as a worm and more potent than the adult and Baby Scorpions are as small as an ant and can slip through the tiniest little crack – I’ve stepped on a few in my house and sometimes felt my tongue getting numb.
    Snakes love cool temperate cave areas to hang out in.

  5. gege smith
    Earth
    November 12, 2011, 1:29 pm

    WOW! POST MORE BIOLOGY ROAD TRIP VIDEOS!

  6. [...] dangling off the rock walls of the of the cave.Take a watch of the video below for the full story.Nature’s Nightmares: Snakes in a Cave [National Geographic] & Bats & Boas: Back from Puerto Rico [Day's Edge Blog] [...]

  7. GiGau
    Charleroi (Be)
    October 30, 2011, 6:27 am

    Awesome indeed. Looking forward seeing more !

  8. [...] Read more at  National Geographic Daily News for October 30, 2011 [...]

  9. micheal zadoc
    nigeria
    October 30, 2011, 2:58 am

    Good job! Please try and make some of things (video) available for popular/general consumption I.e cds

  10. carol satterfield
    United States
    October 30, 2011, 12:18 am

    Thanks Nate and Neil. That was amazing. I have never seen anything like that before. The filming was excellent.

  11. Maximino Hernández Martínez
    Ocosingo , Chiapas; México
    October 30, 2011, 12:05 am

    Muy interesante. En las cuevas hay mucha biodiversidad. En el sureste de México, hay mucho de esto.

  12. Janet Elson
    Australia
    October 29, 2011, 11:56 pm

    Great Story. I hope the location stays a ‘secret’

  13. BobH
    Washington, DC
    October 28, 2011, 1:27 pm

    This is awesome! I hope Biology Road Trips is going to be a regular television show…