All Creatures Fanged and Swine

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Destinations: News for Adventurous Travelers, November 1996

All Creatures Fanged and Swine

In the most biologically diverse area on Earth, watch your feet.
By Bob Payne

On the Osa Peninsula, wildlife is abundant, exotic, and striking--sometimes too striking. Snakes of all description, including several deadly varieties, are common. Stay on the trail and follow the axiom offered by the guides at Costa Rica Expeditions: When you're looking up, don't move your feet; when you're moving your feet, look down. If you do lose the trail, make noise. Clap, stomp, chant. Let every snake within a mile know you're coming. Given the chance, they'll slither off before you can trip over them.

Happily, your most probable animal encounter is not going to be with a snake. Unhappily, it is likely to be with an angry, aggressive boar. Peccaries, wild pigs that travel in packs of 30 or more, are endemic on the Osa, especially in Corcovado National Park. If confronted by an aggrieved peccary--and its razor-sharp teeth--clamber up the nearest tree. (But use discretion; some leaves have spikes.) The peccary will usually lose interest after a few minutes. In the meantime, you can become better acquainted with some of the Osa's many flying insects.

Finally, if you're preparing to brush your teeth one night and find a scorpion in your sink, leave it there. If it can't scale the sides, it can't curl up in your boots or your bed later. And spitting toothpaste around the arachnid is an easily acquired skill. Ask any old Osa hand.

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