- [Mark] Whoa, that's a big snake.
Oh my goodness.
- [Mario] We're just gonna take our time.
So far, so good.
- [Mark] Don't wanna get bit by this snake, that's for sure.
- [Mario] Over the years,
Costa Rica has been one of our favorite
countries in the tropics to visit.
The diversity of animal species that can be encountered
in just a few hundred square meters of rainforest,
especially at night, is incredible to witness.
We have come across some of Costa Rica's
most charismatic species,
while others have been quite camera shy.
Some species we set out to find
and spent countless hours searching for.
There he is.
Look at that little guy.
- [Mario] While others, to our great surprise,
spontaneously appeared right before our very eyes.
- I was expecting creepy crawlies,
not something as cute as an ocelot.
- [Mario] There is one species however that has always
managed to elude us on every one of our expeditions
to Central America.
On one of our most recent trips, we even dedicated
an entire night searching for this reptile
in a specific area that had reports of recent sightings,
but the terrain thoroughly exhausted us
and our efforts proved to be fruitless.
The ground is super muddy,
you can see the mud all over my boot.
It's basically like ice skating up and down mountainsides.
It's super tiring, takes about a step and a half
for every regular step you'd have on flat ground,
so yeah, tough work.
The following morning however,
we received an unexpected call.
Our target species was found on a private property
a few hours away.
The landowner wanted to relocate it for fear
it would bite one of his workers.
Without hesitation, we set off to encounter a snake
the locals call Matabuey, the ox killer,
or commonly known as the Bushmaster.
Our goal would be to assist in the relocation process
but also assess the health of this snake
before release at a wildlife reserve.
The potentially lethal reputation of this snake
required my full attention.
The following scenes are a bit of a blur to me.
This was my first time handling a Bushmaster
and addressing the camera in the moment
was not my first priority.
But the crew still grabbed the cameras to document
this unexpected experience.
We used a standard snake bag to transport the snake
safely to the reserve, and from there,
cautiously coaxed the snake out.
Snakes will often feel secure in a dark, confined location
like a snake bag, and may not exit immediately.
Using my snake handling tools to avoid a bite
through the bag, I was able to open the bag
and reveal the snake.
Whoa, there's the Bushmaster.
- [Mark] Yup, that's a big snake.
Oh my goodness.
- [Mario] All right, so far so good.
Overall, the animal looks fairly healthy.
The first thing I noticed was this creature's eyes.
They may look frightening, but it is simply an indication
that this snake had entered its shed cycle.
As a snake prepares to shed its old outer layer of scales,
lubricant will accumulate underneath
to help slough off the scales easier.
The resulting blue color of the eye is actually this fluid
building up underneath the protective eye caps
that covers a snake's lidless eyes.
- Is that good or bad for us?
- Well, sometimes they get a little cranky
when they're going to shed.
The way that I like to think about it is,
when snakes are in shed, as we refer to it,
they're kinda having a bad hair day.
But as of right now, this animal is behaving very well,
and I want to do as little handling as possible,
especially if it's just kind of motionless like this.
- [Mario] As long as you react slow,
gentle with your movements,
the snake should be fine.
The snake is gonna react when we react.
Secondly, I could tell there was a minor scrape
on the snake's snout and mouth region,
but this should heal just fine as the snake
goes through its shed cycle
and a new layer of skin is formed.
One of the most distinguishing features of this snake genus,
Lachesis, is the heavily keeled, pyramid-like scales
that run along the length of the body
and form a dorsal ridge,
giving the snake a rough and textured look.
By the length of the tail, I think this is a female.
- [Mark] Really?
- [Mario] Yup.
Females have a kinda shorter, stockier tail.
Most pit vipers give birth to live young,
Bushmasters actually lay eggs,
a very unique feature for a pit viper.
What's really cool about Bushmasters as well
is that males tend to get larger than females.
In general in the snake world, it's usually opposite.
Bushmasters are considered the largest
pit viper in the world.
This species has the potential to reach 12 feet in length.
This Bushmaster was about seven feet,
a good average size for a snake in this region,
indicating it is likely a mature individual.
Although the venom of the Bushmaster is not considered
the most toxic in the region, the massive quantity
of venom that a large snake could inject would be lethal.
The venom is composed of hemotoxic properties,
which can cause severe necrosis of muscle tissues
and affect blood clotting factors.
Several fatalities have occurred from Bushmaster bites,
even after the administration of antivenom,
which means I have no room for error
while working with this snake.
- [Mark] Oh my goodness, Mario, I just got that shot.
What just happened?
- It actually kinda yawned and fixed one of its fangs.
It's not uncommon for snakes like that to do that.
- [Mark] That fang was huge, wow!
- I was wondering if we were gonna get to see those fangs.
That is a sight that you rarely will ever see,
the fangs of a Bushmaster.
That was pretty cool.
- Wow, I'm speechless.
- [Mario] At a few points during the assessment process,
the snake actually opened its mouth in a yawn-like fashion,
exposing its long-hinged fangs.
This might look menacing or even threatening,
but it was simply the snake realigning its fangs,
which are kept folded against the upper jaw
when the mouth is closed.
It was definitely a unique opportunity
witnessing the fangs of the snake
without getting in the bite zone.
I'm sorry, but I wanna capture that.
That is pretty cool.
A behavior like this is something we could
have never predicted to see, but my experience
has taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected.
This was by far one of the most intimidating snakes
I have worked with,
not necessarily because of her temperament or behavior,
but simply because of her size
and my knowledge of the associated risks
of receiving a bite.
- [Mark] Well, obviously both Mario and I
are super excited and humbled by the fact
we're getting to witness this snake.
It would have been cool to find our own Bushmaster,
but I feel super proud to be part
of this relocation progress, a part of this opportunity
for this snake to avoid a potential bad situation
and be relocated to a place that it can live out
the rest of its life on protected land.
I think that speaks to the core of what Brave Wilderness
stands for, and the conservation efforts that we support.
- [Mario] Absolutely.
This is a female, this is a mature female
that in a population, is very important, right?
She's going to give birth to the next generation
of Bushmasters, so any Bushmaster that can be saved
is fantastic for the population.
- And how cool?
Last night in Costa Rica, and we finally get a Bushmaster
up close for the cameras.
Quick little fist pump.
I'm Mark Vins.
- I'm Mario Aldecoa.
- Be brave.
- [Mario] Stay wild.
- We'll see you on the next adventure.
Let's see if she'll do that again.
- [Mario] After this quick health assessment,
the snake was released deep within the protected reserve,
far away from any human habitation.
And even though this was not exactly the encounter
I had been hoping for, it was still an amazing opportunity
to work with the species.
However, this infamous reptile still eludes us in the wild.
The secretive nature of this animal,
and its preferred habitat of undisturbed, dense,
lowland rainforest, along with decreasing
population densities throughout its range,
make it extremely difficult to find.
But our search is far from over.
If you thought this encounter with the ultimate pit viper
was dangerous, go back and watch the time we handled
another deadly species, the Fer-de-lance.
And don't forget, subscribe and click the notification bell
so you can join me and the crew on our next adventure.
The Fer-de-lance is one of the most dangerous
snakes here in the tropics.
- [Mark] Oh, he just bit the snake hook.
- [Mario] He just bit the snake hook, did you see that?
- [Mark] Yeah I did.
What does that mean, Mario?
- [Mario] Well, that means the snake's a little upset.