Guatemalan Palm-Pitviper
Bothriechis bicolor
The Guatemalan Palm-Pitviper (Bothriechis bicolor) is an uncommon to rare snake of southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was originally described by Bocourt in 1868, but the Chiapas population was considered a distinct species (Bothriechis ornatus) by Julia-Zertuche and Varela in 1978. Campbell & Lamar (2004) considered the name ornatus to be a synonym of B. bicolor. The habits of the snake are largely unknown but it has been encountered in lower montane forest along the Pacific slope of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and into adjacent Guatemala. It has been most frequently seen by day when it is inactive and coiled in vegetation. The species apparently is mostly nocturnal, foraging for frogs along ravines. I have led about a dozen birding trips to the El Triunfo cloud forest in Chiapas, Mexico for Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and have encountered this snake on only two occasions, in March 1987, and again in March, 1992. The shot shown here was taken along the El Triunfo trail at a location near Canyon Honda, at about 4000 feet elevation, in March, 1992 with a Canon T90 and 400mm F/5.6 lens on Kodachrome 200. This is a poor quality image but few photos of this snake in the wild have been taken. My thanks to Dr. Jon Campbell for his identification of my photo and for some comments in the above text. Campbell, J. A. and Lamar, W. W. 2004. The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere. Cornell University Press.