Night Hike

August 22, 2019

On the first day of this new year my son and I had a most fabulous experience doing a night hike at Las Catalinas.  We had no special equipment, just regular flashlights.  We were really trying to see a sloth, which I have yet to see at Las Catalinas (others have, just not me).  We headed up the mountain bike trail across the road from Plaza Danta.

The trail is perfect for night hiking because it is relatively wide and clear of any undergrowth, so you don't have to worry about stepping on something you can't see.

We didn't see a sloth, but we did see: Ringed Snail Eater Snake (Sibon anthracops) 

This snake was absolutely beautiful, maybe 2 feet long, and very slow moving and docile.  It is not a species I was familiar with, but we identified it conclusively later based on the photos.  At the time I thought maybe it could be a coral snake of some variety.  Not so.  This guy is totally harmless and eats mainly snails, which it can extract from their shells thanks to special modifications of its jaws!  And then, three minutes later, we saw...



Central American Banded Gecko (Coleonyx mitratus)  - Just a short distance down the trail we came upon this beauty - another docile and slow moving species that was previously  unknown  to me.  At this point I just couldn't believe our good luck, and figured that would be it for cool animal sightings for the night.  Then...



Tarantula  - Twenty minutes later we came upon this Tarantula.  I'm sorry I can't tell you the species of this fellow - there are many different kinds.  And sorry that I didn't get a better picture.  Just as I was getting the camera out, we heard the noise of what sounded like some heavy creature moving in the underbrush nearby.  Honestly it sounded so big we were a bit frightened.  So this is the best photo I could get of the spider and the out on the trail right next to us came...



Collared Ant Eater - local name  Oso hormiguero or Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana)  - Yes, an anteater!  I didn't manage to get a photo, but one photo is almost certainly the same individual, photographed on Playa Danta.  These anteaters are solitary animals with a fairly small range of about 100 acres plus or minus.  They are mainly nocturnal, but not totally.  They are just fantastic looking, with prehensile tails (the kind that can grab on to things) and that distinctive anteater snout!

The hike was a huge success.  I imagine that we got very lucky - surely most hikes would not feature this extraordinary batch of animals.  But I highly recommend the activity.  We will be making guided night hikes a regular feature of Las Catalinas.  If you are staying in Las Catalinas before we get this on the regular calendar and you'd like to do a night hike, please ask us!