Trip Details

Start Time: Various times throughout the trip (day and night)

Weather: Sunny. Highs in the mid 80's and lows in the 70's. Low wind.

Location: Quintana Roo and Yucatan, Mexico

Herpers: Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the Day: ¡México! ¡La buena tierra de reptiles y de la cerveza mis amigos!

We had a trip planned for Mexico. It was my first time there for me. My wife and I went with her cousins and their husbands as we all do things together often. This was a vacation and we had much planned, but I did want to get out and do at least a little herping. When we arrived on a Friday and checked out the hotel. As I looked out of the balcony I thought I saw a bird in the yard below but it had a funny walk. After short inspection I identified this not as a bird, but as an iguana!! Cool. It was a Black Iguana (Ctenosaura similis).

It was about three feet long. I was soon to learn that not only were these common on the resort, they were common in many areas. They were still fun to see. It was also easy to tell males and females especially when they were grouped together. When males encountered each other they would bob heads and become territorial. I was even able to elicit this response by getting close and bobbing my head.

That night I got out and did some looking in bushes and was able to grab what I believe is a Brown Anole (Norops sagrei) based on location and description (if someone sees this and this is misidentified, please let me know).

I caught it by shining a light an approaching sideways without looking then grabbing. I took it back to the room to get some (mediocre) pics then let it go on it's way. It was about six inches long. In this particular area of the resort I saw more anoles.

On Saturday night (by the same method) I was able to snag a House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus).

Again, I believe my ID is correct, but if not I would appreciate the correction. After the first night we moved to this second area of the hotel and from then on, these geckos were our nightly companions. They ranged from very young (about an inch and a half was the smallest I saw) and adults that were about five or so inches.

On Sunday, the guys took a trip to the Chichen Itza ruins.

We stayed near Cancun and Chichen Itza is about 3 hours inland. Again, Black Iguanas were common around Chichen Itza.

I did also find some Rainbow Amevias by flipping debris in the walkways of the ruins, but it was about 80 degrees and no sooner did I flip and they took off. I did get some good pics of the ruins and some of the iguanas there. The most well known attraction is The Pyramid of Kukúlcan or El Castillo. We also stopped at a “cenote” or sink hole with water that was called Ik Kil. It was really awesome and my cousins and I took a dip.

It is approximately eighty-two feet from the top to the water. That was quite an experience. That night I was called to my wife's cousins room to rescue her from a large moth that was in their room. I was glad to oblige.

The next time I was able to get out Tuesday. My first stop was a crocodile farm, as I had never been near crocodiles that much. I did get to hold a smaller one and did have a person guide through their facility. I know this isn't field herping, but if was a neat place. They had both American Crocodiles and Morelet's Crocodiles. That night however I did catch my first amphibian. It was a Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps).

I have not taken many night pics, so I do need to practice that more. The toad was about four inches long. I was also able to snap a picture of a treefrog, but it was out of range for a close shot or adequate ID. I also saw a large butterfly I got a few pics of.

Wednesday was out last day and I was about to get out into a "jungle" area next to our resort. This was my first experience with actual "tropical jungle" even being by the resort.

Jungle is very dense, more than you might think. It looks easier to get through at a distance then when you are up close it is pretty thick. There are also LOTS of spiders and webs from my experience. I did follow a fence row down from the beach and turning what little junk I could find produced some fast moving geckos. I did find a little open supply hut and heard a scratching sound. There was a large blue barrel and in had fallen a young Black Iguana. It could not get out. I caught it and took some pictures. I was glad to have saved its life and when leaving turned the barrel on it side so it was not a trap. On the way out at the beach I caught glimpses of something moving. I was never able to actually catch one (if I had a little more time I would have) but was able to get close enough for a few OK pics and ID. They were Cozumel Spiny LIzards (Sceloporus cozumelae). They used the plants on the shore so hide and forage in and there was plenty of other beach debris for cover.

That's it for the trip. It was a vacation and we had a great time. I did not have time for hardcore herping and, alas, no snakes, but it was still cool to find things I never had before. This was the start of my year and was a good start. We will go back some day and the information I gathered will help for next time.

Happy herpin' for 2007!!

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