Preparing my trip on Costa Rica, I ended up learning about one of the most amazing snakes in the world, legendary Bushmaster or genus Lachesis. It is known to be the longest venomous snake in the New World and the guardian of the rain forests in Amazon River basin, north to Costa Rica.

Can you imagine life without risks and dangers ? I believe it would be not life but rather such a kind of existence without real thrilling. Going through the life and recognizing the off-road obstacles and potential problems is something that is giving a special meaning to the feeling of being alive. I am saying this not to support some adrenaline freaks but to show you that there is beauty even there where danger lurks on us.

This beautiful snake lives relatively in remote corners of moist and tropical forests which covers usually the area from low mountains to the coastal settings. For bushmaster, the ideal habitat is one with an average temperature of 75F or 24C and not higher than 1000m. Unfortunately, due to the aggressive colonization of natural zones and destruction of ecosystems, the bushmaster share the destiny of other endangered species that are almost forced to move all around, searching for their peace. In those wandering, they meet up sometimes the humans and there is a conflict or, at least, it is said that those snakes are pretty much aggressive in their attack. Nevertheless, in spite of all those urban legends, the fact is that our master of disaster has no black portray in killing statistic with just a few human attack being recorded. This snake has a nocturnal activity which reduces the risks of crossing the roads with people and causing the fatal end.

The longest snake found in the Americas is actually between 2,5 m and 4 m but has very limited swallowing capacity and that’s why it’s diet is grounded on small mammals and rodents. The snakes are famous for their deadly venom that could be lethal for humans. The scientists have researched that the snake is always warning before attack with the specific sound that almost is to be compared with the famous rattle-snake.

I find very interesting that the bushmaster can survive on approximately 10 meals during the year, if there is a lack of available sources. This breed of snake is very adaptive on the environmental conditions and challenges and has a perfect ability to adjust on the new rules and to survive. According to the studies of bushmaster, that are very few, this pit viper is the only one in America that is laying the eggs and where the female is staying with eggs all the time before they hatch.

Empowered with powerful venom and sensors to locating the prey, this extraordinary pit viper is definitely the one you don’t need to disturb when you are outdoor in some of the majestic landscape pearls of tropical Costa Rica. The bushmaster has an ability to produce up to 8 times more venom than the average American copperhead which is also supported by long fangs that help delivering toxin faster and deeper in the victim. The only snake that have longer fangs than our bushmaster friend is the Gabon Viper. After the deadly venom is realised in the body, it is immediately mobilised to achieve the circulatory system, killing the red blood cells, ruining the organs and causing their failure, followed with vomiting, severe pain, nausea, chills and overall weakness. It has 80% success in mortality of humans, if left untreated.

This snake is patient, silent and bold hunter that knows to use the time and grab the food. They try to remain in remote edges of tropical forest colonies, avoiding any kind of contact with humans. There are some stories that those snakes are following people with the purpose to harm them but that’s all a typical exaggeration, made up to excuse human destruction of beautiful rain forests and their wildlife. Those animals are listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and finding them in the pure nature is a matter of luck, because they try to be hidden. If we think about their solitary personality and breeding phase, we would learn that bushmaster snakes are wonderful mothers that protects their eggs and help them step into the world full of wonders. During incubation of eggs, female bushmaster doesn’t even eat but fiercely protects its coming offsprings.

Those snakes are elusive, alluring and with vibrant, deadly beauty. If we look at them, it is almost like an explosion of fascinating colours on those reptiles, but the fact is that they are dangerous, shy and have secret life behind the tropical curtains. They do not need humans around, they try to escape them and to keep on their own privacy. If it may happen that you meet them somewhere, try to not bother and go your own way. The snake will warn you before any attack so it would be good that you give it the space and not being offensive. The world and global ecosystem is enough big for all of us which means we don’t need to endanger someone’s else place and comfort. There are constant efforts from the science to look more into the life of this amazing critters, to be able to make strategy for their protection and cohabitation with humans in the new sustainable environment.

The snakes have usually negative reputation all over the planet and that is something that has to be changed for a better. They have all rights to share this awesome Planet with us and give their contribution to the ecosystem inputs and outputs. The more important thing is to spread knowledge and awareness about them so the local people learn how to avoid the conflict with them and to let them leave their lives, the best way they do. The educated minds is the best reply on all mythological ideas and the formula of destruction. The snakes have always been here, with us and they should stay, forever.


  1. Sarah’s intriguing and enlightening article reminded me of etymology of the generic appellation (i.e. Lachesis)…

    The appellation is a reference to one of The Three Fates in ancient Grecian mythology, Lachesis: she measured the thread of life with her staff (i.e. the ophiological term associated with its physical length of up to 3 metres (c. 10 feet; rendering it the longest venomous serpent of The Western Hemisphere).

    It was the Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) who so named the snake of The Americas in 1766, from various herpetological documents created by European explorers of the continent.

    The appellation of ‘Λάχεσις’ (Lakhesis), which means ‘The Disposer of Lots’, was drawn from ancient Grecian religion and myth by Carl Linnaeus because Lachesis decided how much time each person had (i.e. allotment of life). She selected the individual’s destiny after she had measured their thread with her staff. The souls would choose their form in the next life (e.g. wild animal or human).

    Naturally, regional indigenous peoples of Central America and South America had/have their own appellations for the various species of Lachesis. For example, ‘surucucú’ in The Amazon Basin.


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !