Guatemala

From the 17th of August until the 4th of September 2017

Despite being a relatively small country, Guatemala hosts an impressive array of landscapes. There is cloudforest with lush epiphytic growth in the central highlands and xeric shrubland with cacti and succulents in the southern Motagua valley. In the northeast of the country there are seasonally dry forests and on the Caribbean slopes there are true rainforests. As a consequence, Guatemala's herpetofauna is equally impressive and boosts hundreds of species. Not all parts of the country are equally well explored and new discoveries are being made all the time. Our main reason to visit this country is the major role its highlands have played in neotropical plethodontid radiation. During the last ice ages these highlands have acted as a refugium, driving speciation in this remarkable group of salamanders. The holy grail of which must be Nyctanolis pernix, an alien-looking salamander which is only rarely found and of which practically nothing is known. It goes without saying that this was our main target for this trip but of course all other taxa also received our full attention. We spent an equal amount of time looking for snakes, lizards, frogs and even the occasional bird or mammal. Besides Laura and myself, our team consisted of Wouter Beukema (NL), Joachim Nerz (DE) and Manuel Acevedo (GT). 

Overview of prospected sites.
Overview of prospected sites.
Manuel insisted we made a grouppicture. From left to right: Manuel, Joachim, Wouter, me and Laura.
Manuel insisted we made a grouppicture. From left to right: Manuel, Joachim, Wouter, me and Laura.

All images © Laura & Bobby Bok (unless stated otherwise)

We all met up in Amsterdam from where we would fly to Guatemala with a stopover in Atlanta. In hindsight we should have flown over Panama to avoid all the bureaucratic and completely pointless nonsense that is the US. Even with a 5 hour stopover we had to run to catch the flight and that illustrates the fun we had standing in line, after line, after line. After an arduous trip we finally arrived in Guatemala City in the evening and Papi Mani was already waiting to drive us to the hostel.

San Marcos

We slept like babies in the Hostal Los Volcanes and after breakfast Manuel picked us up. Guatemala city consists mostly of traffic jams so we were glad when we finally made it out of the city. The first leg of the trip would be the highland forests around San Marcos. It was a long drive on the poor Guatemalan roads and driving is always slower than you might expect here. Unpaved sections can show up after every turn, speed bumps are around the same height as my students and trucks who overtake you in a curve are no exception. We decided to make a stop along the road near Chichicastenango in a nice looking forest. It wasn't for long until Wouter found the first salamanders of the trip in fallen bromeliads: La's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa la). Also Norops crassulus and Mesaspis moreletii were seen here. In the late evening we arrived in our hotel in San Rafael and headed into a stand of secondary growth forest where we observed some interesting frogs and our first Yellow-legged Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa flavimembris) along with species such as Plectrohyla sagorum, Plectrohyla matudai, Norops matudai, Craugastor greggii and Mesaspis moreletii.

The next morning we took things a little slow. After a delicious breakfast with an Enamorada Abuela we searched unsuccessfully at an high altitude finca but the evening searchsite of Refugio del Quetzal made up for that. Although we didn't find the much anticipated first Bothriechis, we did see many other species such as Plectrohyla hartwegi, Plectrohyla matudai, Craugastor stuarti, Craugastor lineatus, Bolitoglossa engelhardti, Bolitoglossa flavimembris, Norops matudai and Tropidodipsas fischeri.

A long drive followed the next day but along the road we got out at a forest reserve where it didn't take us long to find one of our main target salamanders. Lincoln's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa lincolni) is a big ground-dwelling species with fantastic colours and we sure didn't want to miss out on seeing this species. Other species seen here were Bolitoglossa franklini, Mesaspis moreletii and Cerrophidion godmani. Later on the day we passed a part of the mountains that recieve very little rain and where cacti line the streets. In the evening we climbed up to 3000m absl and the scenery changed again. We could add two snake species to our list, namely a Neotropical Whip Snake (Masticophis mentovarius) and a possible Tzotzil Montane Pitviper (Cerrophidion tzotzilorum) respectively. A pitch black night and thick mist combined with a winding unpaved road made sure progress was slowed tremendously, so we decided to spend the night in the next best town which was San Juan Ixcoy.

Cuchumatanes

The first search stop along the road didn't look too promising but some bark peeling by Wouter revealed our first Xibalba Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa xibalba). Further on our way north we spotted a nice meadow with scattered rocks, few bushes, scree slopes and some ponds. A perfect place for herping, so we all got out and it didn't take long for us to start finding some highly interesting species such as the Longnose Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa rostrata), another ground dwelling salamander which didn't seem to be that rare in this alpine habitat. The ponds were full of tadpoles of Bocourt's Toad (Incilius bocourti) and I could flip a single pretty adult of this species. Underneath rocks we found several lizards such as Mesaspis moreletii, Mesaspis cuchamatana and Sceloporus cf. smaragdinus. Also a single basking Cerrophidion godmani was found by Wouter. After another afternoon in the car we arrived in the town of Barrillas.

Here we met up with a local naturalist and had dinner together. The news he brought wasn't so promising and he told us the local situation didn't improve. With the help of foreign companies the Guatemalan government had been working on a hydroelectric power plant which didn't sit well with the local communities. Big fights broke out, casualties fell and the police force had to retreat. To this day the town is without police and that didn't improve the safety situation. He didn't deem it wise for us to go out at night into the forest. Also about reaching our primary goal in the Cuchumatanes (a forest where Nyctanolis is known to occur) he was less than positive. We went back to the hotel and looked on our watch, it was only 21:00! That is no time to go to bed and we decided to go into the mountains anyway. We would just go for a small search and an employee of the hotel joined us on a piece of land he deemed safe. Just when we started finding the first species such as Craugastor rostralis, Lithobates macroglossa and Norops campbelli we were called back. The local guy got a little nervous that people from surrounding villages would see us and might fire guns in our direction, so we decided to call it a night and get some rest for the next big day.

We got up early, had a fantastic breakfast in the hotel and started driving north again to reach the Yal Unin Yul Witz Reserve. This time our route was only unpaved roads and that doesn't mean much good in Guatemala. Most parts of the road we wouldn't even call a road but rather a rocky surface. With 10 km/h maximum we trotted onwards to our destination until there came a moment which we all feared. The road became so bad, that even our 4WD didn't manage to drive there. A steep rocky descend was hindering our progress and we had to think of a plan B. Only 4 kilometers away from the nearest town where we wanted to stay! As so often in these situations, the clouds burst and rain came pouring down because that is just what you need on moments like this. While Manuel and Joachim walked to the nearest town to try and arrange a truck to collect us. Wouter, Laura and I stayed behind to guard the car and try and arrange something from our end. Just before sunset we saw a big truck driving towards us and luckily Manuel and Joachim were successful. We parked our car at a nearby house, chucked all our luggage in the truck, and this merry band of herpers was on its way again. Upon arrival we first had to sort things out with the mayor of the town. We had to clarify we had nothing to do with the dam, just wanted to take pictures and didn't have any interest in collecting animals from the forest. Once that was settled, we were assigned a cabin, a guide and were good to head out in the forest. Over the course of two nights we had perfect conditions with lots of rain and the forest was seemingly perfect for salamanders. We found several Xibalba Mushroomtongue Salamanders (Bolitoglossa xibalba) on leafs and four Paddletail Salamanders (Bradytriton silus) between leaf litter. But no sign of the main target, the Nimble Long-limbed Salamander (Nyctanolis pernix)... It was hard to feel sad though and although this enigmatic salamander species stayed out of sight, the forest was stunning nonetheless and we saw many other creatures we had hoped to see. Along the main trail several Black-eyed Leaf Frogs (Agalychnis moreletii) were calling and on one evening I found my number one snake species for this trip, a Yellow-blotched Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis aurifer). Another big pitviper was found by Manuel: As Wouter and I were heading back to the cabin after a night in the soaked forest and with empty batteries, we passed a huge Central American Jumping Pitviper (Atropoides mexicanus) laying on the path. Lucky Manuel still had light to see where he was walking...

As usual in the tropics, day time herping was a little slower but on one afternoon I flipped a Central American Milk Snake (Lampropeltis abnorma) next to the path. The rock it was hiding under was scarcely any larger than the coiled snake, so a startling find it was! We also found two Velvet Worms (Epiperipatus betheli), representing the second and third records for the whole country. Other species we found during our stay included Smilisca baudinii, Craugastor loki, Incilius aurarius, Lithobates brownorum, a stunning Ninia diademata, Ninia sebae and an Imantodes cenchoa DOR. After two nights it was goodbye to this place, a truly unique experience to spend some time in this rural community where they rarely see any gringos on their lands. Sadly all trucks were out of the town, but luckily there was a guy who had a couple of mules to our disposition. After a 5km hike, with the sun beating down on us, we arrived safe and sound back at the car with our luggage.

Laguna Lachua

For a change we had a smoother drive than anticipated, mostly because there was more tarmac on our route. In the afternoon we arrived at the visitors centre of National Park Laguna Lachua, where we met up with Andres Novales and Daniel Gygax. They had arranged for us to be allowed to stay at night in the national park, for which we are eternally grateful. Laguna Lachua consists of a round lake surrounded by primary rainforest. The lake is situated in the centre of the square national park. This former cenote has crystal clear waters but a pungent sulphurous smell. This smell also gives Lachua its name as in local tongue it means something like smelly lake. Upon arrival we still had to hike 5km to the fieldstation but in such beautiful scenery that wasn't so bad! The fieldstation was perfectly organised witha fully equipped kitchen, showers and several bedrooms. A nice change of scenery from the very basic conditions at the Yal Unin Yul Witz Reserve. After a quick dip in the lake we cooked up a simple meal above the stove and eagerly headed into the forest. It didn't take us long to find the first interesting species. We were with 7 trained and highly motivated people so there was a consistent flow of new species sightings, as we slowly made our way through the forest. We crossed a few swampy bits and each little swamp had its own inhabitants. In the first a few Red-eyed Treefrogs (Agalychnis callidryas) were calling, sitting perched on eye level on low vegetation. The second was the place to be for smaller species of treefrog and we saw several Hourglass Treefrogs (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) and Small-headed Treefrogs (Dendropsophus microcephalus). The third swamp held a nice surprise and we saw four Orangebelly Swamp Snakes (Tretanorhinus nigroluteus), beautiful little mini anaconda's. This species wasn't known yet from the national park so provides some interesting new distributional data. The whole place was just pulsating with life and on the branches Smooth Helmeted Iguanas (Corytophanus cristatus) and several species of anole were sleeping. We saw five anole species this night: Norops biporcatus, Norops capito, Norops rodriquezii, Norops uniformis and Norops lemurinus. In larger water bodies terrapins were incredibly common, mostly White-lipped Mud Turtles (Kinosternon leucostomum) but also the larger Mexican Musk Turtle (Staurotypus triporcatus), a species that hunts for other turtles... Several toad species were hopping on the path, species such as Incilius valliceps, Incilius campbelli, Rhinella horribilis and Gastophryne elegans. On muddy banks we saw some more anurans like Leptodactylus melanonotusLithobates vaillanti and Smilisca baudinii. Another big highlight was the finding of a Müller's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa mulleri) by Daniel, only the second record for the national park! In general salamanders were hard to find here but we found at least two Northern Banana Salamanders (Bolitoglossa rufescens) as well.  Furthermore, Wouter found a Yellow-red Rat Snake (Pseudelaphe flavirufa) and Laura found two Rainforest Hog-nosed Pitvipers (Porthidium nasutum) next to the trail while everybody passed already. What a crazy night and only at around 03:00 we were back in bed.

The next morning we slept in a bit and went for a swim in the lake. Even on our hike back new species turned up and we saw several Middle American Ameivas (Holcosus festivus) and Brown Basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus) scuttling across the forestfloor. Manuel worked his magic again and turned up a Mexican Vine Snake (Oxybelis aeneus) and a Variable Coral Snake (Micrurus diastema). What a way to end an already amazing stay! In retrospective we should have spend more time here but we are already grateful for this one amazing night in this wonderful place.

Tikal

Something which can't be missed by every tourist visiting Guatemala is Tikal, one the largest Mayan cities that ever existed. In our team, mostly Joachim had his mind set on going there as he is a big fan of rockpiles, but we also found it a good idea! In this part of Guatemala a whole different array of species can be found including many Yucatan endemics. Sadly for us however, there wasn't a single drop of rain which made our chances of seeing our anuran main targets minute.

After leaving Laguna Lachua we took the long drive to Tikal which - as always -  didn't go as planned. We had to cross the Rio La Pasión at Sayaxché, and it was a crowded evening. We had to get back in line and wait for 1,5 hours to finally be able to cross the river on a dodgy pontoon, propelled by two small motorboats. Sure was a special experience!

Late at night we finally arrived in the National Park Tikal where we found a Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) freshly killed on the road. Sadly this would remain our only sighting of this species. We stayed at the Tikal Inn for two nights and from there we explored the surrounding jungles. Just after we arrived, I found one of our main targets in the garden of the hotel: one of the prettiest geckoes I have seen, a Yucatan Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans). The Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) was commonly seen around our rooms in the hotel. We were hoping for rain to bring out any amphibians, but all we found were Common Mexican Treefrogs (Smilisca baudinii) and Western Cane Toads (Rhinella horribilis). It was hard to dodge the patrolling security guards but luckily the Tikal Inn is situated at the outskirts of the tourist town.

By daytime we walked around the hotel grounds and into the surrounding forests. Brown Basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus) and Rainbow Ameivas (Holcosus undulatus) were commonly seen on the forest floor while Teapen Rosebelly Lizards (Sceloporus teapensis) are more constricted to rocky surfaces such as paved paths in the hotel garden. A big pond in the middle of the jungle was home to a protective mother Mexican Crocodyle (Crocodylus moreletii) with five babies.

While the others went for a rest I couldn't sleep and went for another stroll. Not for long until I heard some noises above my head, and in a big fruiting tree a huge troop of Central American Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis) moved in and started foraging. A small flock of Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) joined them and Central American Agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata) were quick to eat the fallen fruits. This was the rainforest from my picture books when I was younger, and it was amazing be in the middle of so much action. That does make up a bit for missing out on the endemic frogs such as Triprion and Rhinophrynus

On our last morning here we visited the actual ruins and we got up before sunrise. Laura and I headed towards Templo IV to watch the sunrise and much to our surprise we had the place almost to ourselves. While Yucatán Black Howler Monkeys (Alouatta pigra) and White-crowned Parrots (Pionus senilis) were passing through the canopy, we watched the mist slowly clear and reveal the endless sea of green below. After an hour or so we had a view on the entire site of Tikal with the impressive pyramids piercing through the dense canopy. When we descended from the pyramid we found ourselves in the middle of a big foraging party of White-nosed Coatis (Nasua narica). They didn't care at all about our presence and just carried on feeding, playing and going on their daily business.

After a nice breakfast and a last dip in the pool it was time to drive on again and leave Tikal behind. It certainly was a lot harder to herp here than we thought, especially without rain. But the overall experience of seeing all these nice mammals, birds and ancient Maya ruins was sure worth it!

Sierra Caral

The drive from Tikal to the southeastern part of Guatemala was again long, but on the way we ate a fabulous pizza in Morales and from there we made our way up into the Sierra Caral. As recently as 2013 a national protected area has been erected to ensure the survival of this unique forest. We had arranged to visit this place for two nights and we were welcomed at the gate by two forest rangers by motorbike. Our progress up the mountain was slowed by muddy roads and narrow bridges, and because of this we had to get out of the car from time to time. This also meant we could herp already a bit along the muddy forestroad, where I found our only Caral Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa nympha) during one such stop. Eventually we made it to the well-equipped field station. After dropping the luggage in our rooms we immediately went into the forest. What awaited us was one big amphibian bonanza, where we found almost all our amphibian targets. On big leaves along the trail and along the stream we found several individuals of O'Donnell's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa odonelli) and Mexican Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa mexicana), both briliantly coloured species. My main highlight was seeing the Giant Palm Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini), the biggest arboreal salamander in the world. After Wouter and I both found a male, Laura spotted a huge female hanging upside down on a branch. Fantastic! Along the stream many frogs were active such as Copan Stream Frog (Ptychohyla hypomykter), Copan Brook Frog (Duellmanohyla soralia) and Laura was the one to find our single Northern Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) individual on the last night. On the forest floor also several other anurans were active such as Craugastor chak, Craugastor charadra, Smilisca baudinii and Rhinella horribilis. After a cold shower it was off to bed after a successful night.

We slept like babies in our comfortable fieldbeds and under our mosquito nets.

The next day we went into the forest again to photograph some animals and also see the habitat in daylight. Diurnal species we saw included Norops capito, Basiliscus vittatus, Corytophanus cristatus and Scincella cherriei. The most exciting finds however were the tiniest ones. Behind a wooded board next to the entrance of the station I found two miniscule Collared Dwarf Geckoes (Spherodactylus glaucus), beautifully coloured and big enough to fit on the tip of your finger. In the afternoon we relaxed in the hammocks from where we saw a magnificent King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) soaring overhead, too short sadly to snap a picture. After cooking an easy meal above the fire we headed out in the forest again. We largely saw the same species as the previous night but we could also add two more snakes to our list, the tiny Reclusive Montane Brown Snake (Rhadinella anachoreta) and three Eyelash Palm Pitvipers (Bothriechis schlegeli) perched on palmleaves and branches along the stream.

Motagua Valley

On the road from Sierra Caral to the Heloderma Nature Reserve we drove through endless palmoil plantages. The only reptile we saw during the long drive was a Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis), which was too quick to picture. We had some troubles finding this remote nature reserve but when we asked around in the nearby town on where to go, we coincidentally asked the exact same person who we were supposed to meet. We followed Don Hilberto through dry riverbeds in an area that couldn't be any more different than the rainforests we just visited. The Motagua Valley is among the driest parts of Central America. Dry gravelbeds lined with thorny and shrubby trees, interspersed with towering cacti. This area is a true desert although we arrived here in the rainy season and things are a lot greener than usual. Well, we soon found out it was indeed rainy season and as we arrived at the field station the clouds burst and thunder roared louder than I ever heard before. Hard to believe we were in a desert! Wearing our rainponchos we followed Don Hilberto through the dense chichicaste undergrowth, in pouring rain, searching for one of the most rare salamanders. Despite the weather we sadly didn't find the endemic Motagua Worm Salamander although we did see several anuran species such as: Leptodactylus fragilis, Leptodactylus melanonotus, Lithobates maculatus, Rhinella horribilis, Incilius luetkeni and Engystomops pustulosus. All around a filthy water bassin alongside a single Painted Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima). Back at the lodge Manuel and I had a small stroll around the station and in a small shed we found a Yellowbelly Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus tuberculosus) and a Central American Lyre Snake (Trimorphodon quadruplex) stalking a bat. It was high up in the roof but we found a ladder to catch this beautiful snake. With the rain crashing on the roof of the fieldstation we slept very well in our cozy beds.

The next morning the weather improved and we set out again searching for endemic reptiles. We soon encountered another Painted Wood Turtle and a Guatemalan Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura palearis). Sadly it didn't linger around long so we couldn't photograph it well. In fact, that could be said for most reptiles here because also the Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) and Giant Whiptails (Aspidocelis motaguae) remained unphotographed. Our highlight here however was an entirely different kind of lizard, an archaic and slow-moving reptile. Endemic to this area and one of the handful venomous lizards in the world. Seeing these Guatemalan Beaded Lizards (Heloderma charlesbogerti) casually lounging in the trees certainly was a sight to behold!

Biotopo del Quetzal

The last part of our route would be the cloud forests of the Baja Verapaz department, where we visited the Biotopo del Quetzal. We stayed for three nights in the Ranchitos del Quetzal, which proved to be the perfect place to stay. Here we had comfortable rooms, hot showers (after two weeks of cold water quite a delight!) and a small restaurant with many delicious dishes. Moreover, we could walk from our rooms straight into the pristine forest. On our first night we already could observe some familiar species we had seen earlier this trip, but we could also add some new ones. I found the first Coban Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa helmrichi) and Laura made the fans of tiny brown salamanders incredibly happy by finding a Baja Verapaz Salamander (Cryptotriton veraepacis). We also saw several frogs such as Plectrohyla hartwegi, Plectrohyla quecchi, Ptychohyla hypomykter, Craugastor lineatus, Craugastor xucanebi, and we heard the calls of Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni. Concerning reptiles, things were a bit slower here and despite our efforts to turn up one of the two Abronia species known to occur here, we weren't successful. We only saw some ubiquitous Stuart's Anoles (Anolis cobanensis) and Bocourt's Emerald Lizard (Sceloporus smaragdinus) basking on the roof of the restaurant. A Hempstead's Pine Wood Snake (Rhadinella hempsteadae) was our only snake find here. Birdwise we were very lucky and besides several hummingbird species we could see Resplendent Quetzals (Pharomachrus mocinno) on two different mornings. The first morning was a mere coincidence - we just got up for breakfast when they were in a tree above the restaurant. The last morning we got up especially early to see them, only to find a beautiful male almost two hours later at breakfast time.

Manuel had arranged for us to visit the actual Biotopo on our second evening here. To see this reserve at night time isn't easily arranged, so we were very grateful. On a long and strenuous hike through the forest we could see many more Coban Mushroomtongue Salamanders, along with several other amphibians such as Plectrohyla ixilPlectrohyla hartwegiCraugastor lineatusCraugastor xucanebi and Craugastor bocourti. Stuart's Anoles were everywhere again but this time we also found several snakes. Both Wouter and Manuel found Fischer's Snail-eating Snake (Tropidodipsas fischeri). Moreover, we found Tearful Pine-Oak Snake (Rhadinella lachrymans) and a very beautiful Godman's Montane Pitviper (Cerrophidion godmani). We were again hoping to find Nyctanolis here, and despite being very close to the place where they have been found, we again weren't lucky...

Volcán Pacaya

On our last day in Guatemala we stayed close to the airport and did some sightseeing. After some hours in horrendous traffic jams in Guatemala City we arrived at one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, the Volcán Pacaya. Sadly for us there weren't any lava flows anymore, but its recent activity was well visible. Small fumaroles litter the landscape and there is hardly any vegetation on the basaltic formations. The thick fog added to the eerie atmosphere and whenever the mist dropped and unveiled the smouldering volcano, we were left in awe. At sunset we went down again and drove to Patricia's Guesthouse close to the airport. Tired from all the traffic, we ordered a pizza to the room and went to bed early. The next day Manuel came to collect us and drove us to the airport. Our trip here certainly flew by and now it was time to part ways with our new amigo. Reluctantly we said goodbye after an amazing trip, knowing we would be back here one day...

Epilogue

According to several sources, the name Guatemala means "land of many trees" in one of the many native tongues of the country. Nowadays vast tracts of forest have been cleared to make way for sugar cane, palm oil, corn or cattle. This is a sad sight to behold, and almost omnipresent while traveling through the country. Luckily some forest reserves are created in order to establish a safe haven for the country´s biodiversity. I sincerely hope that these forest reserves will withstand the endless tide of human encroachment, and many new ones will be erected. Being the most populated country of Central America, these reserves are under immense pressure and mostly isolated from one another. For big mammals this will probably be the final nail in the coffin in the near future, but at least smaller animals might find a place to survive here. 

The roads in the western half of the country were incredibly bad and it was impossible to drive any faster than 10km/h on the mostly unpaved roads. As I wrote earlier, ridiculous speed bumps and careless drivers complicate the situation where there are paved roads. Furthermore, we found Guatemala a welcoming place in most, but certainly not all areas; in some places the local people are plainly hostile against any gringo they see. In a certain rural area foreign companies are constructing a dam which will displace a great many people. Moreover, they are just recovering from a civil war so you also can't blaim them for being a little suspicious of foreign visitors. Luckily we had Manuel with us, who could explain that we are not from the dam project and mere biologists looking for animals. This certainly helped to lighten the atmosphere and open doors for us, and allowed us to visit areas we would have never been able to visit without him. We can't thank you enough Manuel!

Make sure to check out Laura's Flickr album as well!

Species

Giant Palm Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini)

Engelhardt's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa engelhardti)

Yellow-legged Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa flavimembris)

Franklin's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa franklini)

Coban Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa helmrichi)

La's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa la)

Lincoln's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa lincolni)

Mexican Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa mexicana)

Müller's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa mulleri)

Caral Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa nympha)

O'Donnell's Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa odonnelli)

Longnose Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa rostrata)

Northern Banana Salamander (Bolitoglossa rufescens)

Xibalba Mushroomtongue Salamander (Bolitoglossa xibalba)

Paddletail Salamander (Bradytriton silus)

Baja Verapaz Salamander (Cryptotriton veraepacis)

Red-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas

Black-eyed Leaf Frog (Agalychnis moreletii)

Bocourt's Robber Frog (Craugastor bocourti)

Caral Robber Frog (Craugastor charadra)

Izabal Robber Frog (Craugastor chac)

Greg's Robber Frog (Craugastor greggii)

Ixcil Robber Frog (Craugastor ixcil)

Montane Robber Frog (Craugastor lineatus)

Common Leaf-litter Frog (Craugastor loki)

(Craugastor nefrens)

(Craugastor rostralis)

Stuart's Robber Frog (Craugastor stuarti)

Xucaneb Robber Frog (Craugastor xucanebi)

Hourglass Treefrog (Dendropsophus ebraccatus)

Small-headed Treefrog (Dendropsophus microcephalus)

Copan Brook Frog (Duellmanohyla soralia

Túngara Frog (Engystomops pustulosus)

Elegant Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne elegans)

Northern Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni)

Cuchumatan Golden Toad (Incilius aurarius)

Bocourt's Toad (Incilius bocourti

Campbell's Forest Toad (Incilius campbelli)

Yellow Toad (Incilius luetkenii)

Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps)

Mexican White-lipped Frog (Leptodactylus fragilis)

Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus)

Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum)

Guatemalan Plateau Frog (Lithobates macroglossa)

Highland Leopard Frog (Lithobates maculatus)

Common Marsh Frog (Lithobates vaillanti)

Hartweg's Spikethumb Frog (Plectrohyla hartwegi)

Matuda's Spikethumb Frog (Plectrohyla matudai)

Las Palmas Spikethumb Frog (Plectrohyla quecchi)

Arcane Spikethumb Frog (Plectrohyla sagorum)

Copan Stream Frog (Ptychohyla hypomykter)

Cloud Forest Stream Frog (Ptychohyla euthysanota)

Western Cane Toad (Rhinella horribilis)

Common Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii)

Mexican Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)

White-lipped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon leucostomum)

Painted Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima)

Mexican Musk Turtle (Staurotypus triporcatus)

Giant Whiptail (Aspidoscelis motaguae)

Brown Basilisk (Basiliscus vittatus)

Yucatan Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans)

Smooth Helmeted Iguana (Corytophanes cristatus)

Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaurus similis)

Guatemalan Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura palearis)

Guatemalan Beaded Lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti)

Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Middle American Ameiva (Holcosus festivus)

Rainbow Ameiva (Holcosus undulatus)

Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)

Cuchumatanes Alligator Lizard (Mesaspis cuchumatanus)

Morelet's Alligator Lizard (Mesaspis moreletii)

Neotropical Green Anole (Norops biporcatus)

Campbell's Anole (Norops campbelli)

Big-headed Anole (Norops capito)

Stuart's Anole (Norops cobanensis)

Ornate Anole (Norops crassulus)

Ghost Anole (Norops lemurinus)

Matuda's Anole (Norops matudai)

Smooth Anole (Norops rodriguezii)

Lesserscaly Anole (Norops uniformis)

Yellowbelly Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus tuberculosus)

Teapen Rosebelly Lizard (Sceloporus teapensis)

Bocourt's Emerald Lizard (Sceloporus smaragdinus)

Guatemalan Emerald Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus taeniocnemis)

Brown Forest Skink (Scincella cherriei)

Stuart's Forest Skink (Scincella incertus)

Collared Dwarf Gecko (Sphaerodactylus glaucus)

Central American Jumping Pitviper (Atropoides mexicanus)

Common Northern Boa (Boa imperator) DOR

Yellow-blotched Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis aurifer)

Eyelash Palm Pitviper (Bothriechis schlegelii)

Godman's Montane Pitviper (Cerrophidion godmani)

Tzotzil Montane Pitviper (Cerrophidion tzotzilorum)

Common Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa) DOR

Central American Milk Snake (Lampropeltis abnorma)

Neotropical Whip Snake (Masticophis mentovarius)

Variable Coral Snake (Micrurus diastema)

Ringneck Coffee Snake (Ninia diademata)

Redback Coffee Snake (Ninia sebae)

Mexican Vine Snake (Oxybelis aeneus)

Yellow-red Rat Snake (Pseudelaphe flavirufa)

Reclusive Montane Brown Snake (Rhadinella anachoreta)

Hempstead's Pine Wood Snake (Rhadinella hempsteadae)

Tearful Pine-Oak Snake (Rhadinella lachrymans)

Orangebelly Swamp Snake (Tretanorhinus nigroluteus)

Central American Lyre Snake (Trimorphodon quadruplex)

Fischer's Snail-eating Snake (Tropidodipsas fischeri)

Rainforest Hog-nosed Pitviper (Porthidium nasutum)

 

Many thanks to Daniel Ariano, Rowland Griffin, Andres Novales and Bob Thomas for providing valuable intel prior to the trip.