Guardian Angels, Good Luck, or Who Knows?

The party on Sunday was a great success, but after the party we had a near miss of a dangerous, scary disaster!

We live on a dead end street, so Joel parked our cars down at the end of the street where the street ends in the woods. After the party we cleaned up and put things away, and Joel went to bring the cars back into the carport. First our daily car was moved up so my little old Mazda could be pulled into the carport first. Then, Joel went to get the Mazda and I heard a yell, and then “Come and bring the camera! There is a big snake out here!”

I grabbed the camera and this is what I saw coiled up in the middle of the road under the street lamp.


The street lamps are yellow and not very bright so the light wasn’t good, but it didn’t take me a second to recognize this as a Fer de Lance or Bothrops Asper, a type of pit viper and one the most dangerous snake found in this area. This was a big one, as big around as my forearm and probably about 6 feet long. We kept a safe distance and I managed to get two photos before it quickly took off and disappeared into the woods.

Then, Joel tells me that he first yelled because he STEPPED ON IT on his way to the car, and was disconcerted because he almost lost his balance. These snakes are more aggressive than most and why it didn’t strike at him is beyond me! Deaths from these snakes are rare now because anti-venom is readily available, but this certainly would have been an emergency run to the hospital and who knows what kind of damage from the venom.

I still cannot believe that he didn’t get bitten! My friend Cedo thought maybe the snake had just eaten, and at that time they are lethargic because they are digesting. It was a cool night and since snakes are cold blooded, maybe it was too chilly to move fast? I don’t think so because when it decided to leave it moved very quickly. Whatever the reason, we both feel unbelievably fortunate that Joel wasn’t bitten. I think he has learned that one must always watch the path in front of you, take a light if it is dark out, and proceed anywhere with caution. You never know what you might encounter. Most things aren’t dangerous but there are a few that are, and this could have been a much more painful lesson than anyone would ever want.


About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Panama, wildlife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Guardian Angels, Good Luck, or Who Knows?

  1. Jerry says:

    OMG is all I can say. We were all walking around this area. all afternoon. We were all so fortunate.


    • I know, crazy huh?! It was down the road towards the cliff though, not near the house and later on when all had been quiet for a while. I don’t think they would be interested in joining all that commotion. We all need to be aware though that we share the area with tropical wildlife and watch where we walk and put our hands.


  2. OMG! I read this post to Ron, while I was screaming. Joel was so very lucky that he wasn’t bitten. You do have a guardian angel. I think I’m going to have nightmares tonight.


  3. Richard says:

    I don’t see many snakes in Cocle. Actually, the “bad” animals are not as prevalent as they appear to be in David… perhaps because it is much more dry here. However, I did manage to almost step on a scorpion in my second-floor bedroom as it was skirting out of the bathroom. It was my first, and only scorpion encounter in this location. I thought those things would have been gone by now since rainy season has returned. I guess the protracted dry season has confused them.

    Incidentally, I will be traveling to Bocas del Toro in another month and was hoping to get some help sorting out the travel and sites to enjoy a memorable trip there. Believe it or not, it is the one province my Panamanian wife has never seen, so I thought we should remedy that.


    • We have seen a few scorpions in the dry season, and there was that other baby Fer de Lance sleeping on our terrace one morning. That’s it in almost 2 years and we are almost surrounded by woods and by a river at our house.
      We have been to Bocas a couple times. Try the search box on the upper right if you want to see what I wrote about it. The highlights for me were snorkeling (amazing underwater scenery) and biking along the beach and through beautiful scenery. It is definitely worth a visit and being a tourist destination, there are many things to do, and places to stay and eat and have fun. The town is funky but the area is so beautiful and quite different from the Pacific side of the country.


  4. Sunni Morris says:

    Joel is a very lucky man! People should definitely have a flashlight in the dark.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Holy moly! So glad this post had a good ending. Cuidado Joel!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Dang! Invest in a flashlight and don’t leave home without it. As soon as I saw you photo it reminded me of the one near your door. Hind sight a wonderful thing. If you have one it has family some where close by!. Be safe always.


    • We have flashlights! And, there was enough light to see the snake without one if he had been watching where he was going. I think now he realizes how important it is to be careful around here. We haven’t had any problems but once is too much from this snake. The little one by our door was the same kind of snake, just a baby version. Because of the baby I knew immediately what kind of snake it was when I saw this adult. But, I’ll treat all wildlife with respect and caution just because I don’t want anything to think it has to defend itself from me.


  7. Sunni Morris says:

    LOVE the cat video!


  8. Susan Pazera says:

    Holy moly! Glad Joel wasn’t bitten! I think I’ll have to adjust my attitude about snakes once we move 🙂


  9. 4sarge says:

    Luck Indeed, or maybe that Guardian Angel – Stay Safe my Friends


  10. John & Susan says:

    Get one of these. They are super bright!

    Orion Tilt Hat Clip Light with 1 white LED Light Head and 1 Green Led Light Head

    Orion5 Hat Clip Light w/5 Clear LED Lights

    Orion Hat Clip Light w/3 Clear LED Lights


    • Thanks! We have flashlights, headlamps, and the snake was easily visible under the street light (that photo has no flash or other light except the street light). None help though if you go out without them.


Comments are closed.