snakes in st. lucia / windjammer

Jul 21st, 2004, 11:52 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 134
snakes in st. lucia / windjammer

I know there is no way to post this without sounding completely naive or ridiculous. I have planned a trip to St. Lucia, Windjammer in October. The villa has an open air living room. Also want to do some hiking...however I am terrified of snakes...doesn't matter what kind, color or size...I totally loose it. Hawaii was the most relaxed hiking I've ever done...no snakes in Hawaii...but I don't know how that holds for the carribean. Has anyone encountered one while hiking in St. Lucia, it being a rain forest and all...or what about my open air villa, any reason to stay up all night there????
winnie is offline  
Jul 21st, 2004, 05:16 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6
We just returned from our wedding and honeymoon in St. Lucia, and we did a trip to the rain forest in open air land rovers. The tour guide told us that we may encounter snakes, but no one on the hike saw any snakes. If you are in an open air villa, maybe you should ask the owner/or your travel agent what precautions you can take to stop them from coming in. I know that alot of the homes, etc had no glass windows, and many with no doors!
shine4u is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2004, 12:09 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 14
When I read this post I almost fell out of my chair. I didn't know St. Lucia had snakes outside the rain forest (which I planned to avoid) and I also have a 1 bedroom villa (w/o pool). I've already contacted the hotel and my travel agent because if snakes can just slither into the "open air" areas, I'll have a heart attack (no exagerration). The minute someone gets back to me I'll let you know. My res. is for Aug. 30th so I'll need to know sooner than later.
requestaword is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 04:25 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 383
My understanding is that the mongoose has taken care of most of the snakes on St. Lucia.
cartera45 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 06:34 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,663
I can add my little bit of experience: no snakes! We rented an open air villa near Ladera on St. Lucia for a week, also another time we stayed at Anse Chastanet. Never did we see a snake. That said, guys, there were alot of insects. It was very lush. Our bedroom came complete with a romantic mosquito netting, which we definitely used. But I'm not the type to get creeped out - and I also happen to have a brave animal-loving husband. Our villa did come with a sort of orphan dog though. We bought him food! Windjammer is on another part of the island, don't know if that would make a difference...
joan is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 12:47 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 29
I've never encountered snakes in St. Lucia the three times I've been there. I wouldn't worry about it at all. I didn't even see them in the rain forest. Have fun! Windjammer is a lovely hotel.
Jen
Jen68 is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 04:21 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 619
I don't know if it's because I do reef surveys and forest explorations in the Bahamas and Caribbean, but tourists should know there are snakes on St. Lucia, including the Fer-de-Lance. I would not hike in scrub or forested areas freely around the coastal areas. It is usually not above elevations of 600 feet on St. Lucia. Move slowly and make some noise so you won't startle one when hiking, and give it time to slither away. My brother, a senior researcher at the Smithsonian, had an assistant killed in Panama by a Fer-de-Lance. She was following a trail, and saw a prickly rat trail, and followed it, meandering off the main trail. She came across a stream bed, and hopped over it, landing on a well-camoflagued Fer-de-Lance, which was waiting for a prickly-rat to come by. It bit her and she was dead 15 minutes later; the venom apparently attacks the muscles and nervous system. This occurred in the jungles around Fort Sherman. I've never been to St. Lucia, yet, but I know of researchers who have. St. Lucians christen this The Fer-de-Lance as the "serpent." It is also found on Martinique, Trinidad, Panama, and the mainlands surrounding the Caribbean. It is clay-colored to brownish and blends in perfectly to ground debris and leaves. Very toxic and large poison glands. They grow to 7-feet. It is prevalent from Roseau to Canaries on the west coast, and from Marquis to Micoud in the east, on coastal areas. The mangoose have not exterminated this viper because its mongoose is, ironically, mongoose. It gives birth to up to 5 dozen live young, so it's not in danger of extinction on St. Lucia. At the Frigate Islands Nature Reserve, along the easter coast, you can find boa constrictors in addition to the deadly Fer-de-Lance. I don't know if any one has been bitten by these snakes; man is definately not on their diets, and would only strike if provoked or suddenly frightened, which is what happened to the unfortunate woman research assistant in the Fort Sherman jungles of Panama. Robert
Robert is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 12:24 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,663
Ohmigosh! Robert! How sad for that woman and her family. I guess the high elevation of our villa was the reason we never saw any snakes...I imagine most of the rainforest hikes are at this higher elevation also, but don't know how much comfort that will be to our snakephobic winnie and requestaword! Thanks for the heads up >) (or down as the case may be).
joan is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 12:36 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 619
Joan; she was an undergraduate student doing summer internships, and probably would have been a doctoral student after graduation. She wasn't married and had no children, but her parents were the victims, too. I just don't recall any incidences other than this of people being bitten by this viper. Your chances of being bitten are probably null; just don't go parading around the grasslands and bush country as if you're in a city park. Robert
Robert is offline  
Jul 26th, 2004, 02:20 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 134
AAAGGGGG OH MY GOD!!!!!! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it...Robert I would have replied sooner, but I just regained control from shaking with terror. To be honest I was feeling a bit silly about my original post, and even got the old eye roll from my husband. However, I would like to thank you and everyone else who replied for all your helpful information. What a sad story about your friend's assistant. I'm sure her family was devastated. I would much rather be fully informed and cautious, than unaware...I hope to have fun and relax..ha.ha. on this trip. If anyone is curious about us seeing a snake, just keep an ear out in October if you hear a loud piercing scream thats me right before my heart attack.
winnie is offline  
Jul 27th, 2004, 05:36 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 446
Winnie,

Take a deep breath....and relax. Are there snakes in the tropics?...Yes. But, your chances are better to winning the lottery than they are of being attacked by a snake. Snakes will avoid humans in most situations, and only bite if they are startled, or stepped on. Even if by (very slight) chance you see one, simply avoid it and head the other way. Although I'm sure your phobia of snakes is very real, you should rest easy and be confident that an encounter with a snake is VERY rare. In all our trips to the caribbean, (including St Lucia), we have never seen a snake. You may however prepare yourself for the numerous lizards. Again, nothing to worry about, as most are harmless, but they are abundant in the tropics. I sincerely hope you have a safe and memorable trip. Please try and relax, because that's what it's all about down there. Remember, if the creature were really bad in the islands, they wouldn't be so popular. You will be safe.
ScottB is offline  
Jul 27th, 2004, 09:09 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 619
ScottB; Thanks for reinforcing the minimal chances of encountering a snake on St. Lucia. After reading the posts, I felt obligated to make tourist aware that there are, indeed, poisonous snakes on St. Lucia, and the mongoose have not eaten them all (mongoose is a favorite on the Fer-de-Lance menu). I could see people care-freely scampering around the rain forests and coastal grassy areas, oblivious to any thought of snakes. With a minimum of caution, there is virtually no danger of being bitten. Snakes avoid humans like the plague, and do not attack people. Winnie will have a fun time on St. Lucia. Robert
Robert is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 08:31 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 14
My travel agent finally received an answer from the Windjammer -- and of course they said there were "no" snakes on the property. St. Lucia was an impulse decision for me -- I guess from now on I'll be true to my natural nature of erring on the side of caution and researching in depth before making a decision. Since I'm locked into going, I probably won't be leaving the hotel grounds much -- traveling around at night is out. I've lived with my phobias to long to "outgrow" them now and I avoid places that animals usually are known to roam and since ignorance is no excuse -- I'll have to make the best of it.
requestaword is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 11:22 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,300
Anse Louvet beach: A protected sandy beach in fantastic, mysterious surroundings can be reached after a two to three hours walk (road no longer drive-able). The La Sorcière mountains make a wall between the sea and the inland giving the surroundings a special distinction.
The dry shrubs are home to the Fer de Lance snake, the only really dangerous snake on the island.
Here, the Leatherback and other turtles come ashore to bury their eggs during the night (at end winter season, start summer season)


Fer-de-lance: Bothrops atrox

Distribution: Tropical forests of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia and northern Argentina. Central America, the West Indies and possibly Mexico.

Habitat: Forest areas, along stream edges and ditches. Also plantations and areas of human habitation.

Size: Length: average 1.8m-2.4m+

The fer-de-lance is the most dangerous snake of Central and South America, and causes more human deaths than any other American reptile. On average, a fer-de-lance injects 105mg of venom in one bite, although a venom yield of up to 310mg has been recorded while milking them. The fatal dose for a human is 50mg.


Fer-de-Lance Habits

Daily Life. The fer-de-lance is a ground-living snake, though it is able to climb and swim. Its natural habitat is forest, but it is often found on plantations and in run-down houses, as it can find a ready supply of rats and mice there. This unfortunately brings it into contact with humans. It will usually flee if disturbed, but can also defend itself vigorously, striking as soon as an enemy is within reach.

It is a member of the group of snakes known as pit vipers. Like other pit vipers it has two indentations or 'pits' behind and above the nostrils which can detect a rise or drop in temperature of just 0.001degrees C, allowing it to detect warm-blooded mammals. These 'pits', coupled with its tongue to 'taste' the air, allow the fer-de-lance to strike with great accuracy even in total darkness.

Hunting. This is mainly done at night, though it will move around at any time, and small mammals are the usual prey. When it is about to strike, it rears up, with its head and upper body forming an 'S' shape. It is able to strike so fast that it is nearly impossible to see it move from the 'S' position. It swiftly injects a lethal dose of poison, then retreats to wait for the venom to work. When the prey is dead, the snake locates it by following its scent trail. It can then eat the prey at leisure
Curt is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 12:05 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 619
Requestaword; You really have nothing to worry about. This viper is a rarity, and take the guided hikes into the rainforests. The guides know all about the indigenous snakes and other critters, and know their habits well. you must remember, regardless of Hollywood's portrayal, these snakes have no interest in humans, do not attack, and if you stay on an open trail, with a guide, it will be an enjoyable and safe aventure. Robert
Robert is offline  
Sep 15th, 2004, 11:56 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 14
I've been back from St. Lucia almost two weeks and this is the first chance I've had to post a report. All went well and I would like to go back (I really only had 3 full days - I never count the travel days). First let me say - there are snakes - but mainly in the rainforest areas and a few outlying areas where I would never venture even if there weren't any. On the half day jeep safari tour the guide stopped to show us how bananas are formed and cultivated - but he cautioned he had to be careful due to snakes. Then he makes a stop where fresh cut fruit is sold and while everyone is milling around (I stayed on the jeep) he reaches behind a table (and out of the corner of my eye I see the tail) of a 10 foot boa constrictor! I'd like to report one man jumped back into the jeep (and left his bride standing there with her mouth open). The rest of the trip was uneventful but I was hyper vigilant in case a snake came down out of the trees! Enough hysteria - the weather was perfect - the water was calm (despite hearing the warnings of the various hurricanes). Windjammer was a marvelous hotel - but the steps are a bit much after lazing around on the beach all day. Now I know which villas to ask for that are on the direct path of the shuttle buses. I only had time for an evening sunset cruise which was nice (they had a live steel band) and when it rained we were treated to gorgeous rainbow. I didn't have the opportunity to visit other hotels (Windjammer is isolated) and the only contact I had with the St. Lucian's were the hotel workers and taxi drivers. So all in all, as I mentioned before, I would go back and stay to get a more authentic feel of the island.
requestaword is offline  
Sep 15th, 2004, 12:43 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 619
Great posting, requestaword; just curious, did the guide let the boa go, or did he/she kill it? Robert
Robert is offline  
Sep 16th, 2004, 03:49 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 14
Robert, I honestly don't know what he did with the snake (I wouldn't turn around). I heard some people took pictures with the guide holding the snake, and I heard people asking questions, but I think he just let it go. Back on the jeep tour the guy (who jumped back into the jeep) said he bet that the snake was someone's pet and that they use it to scare the tourists. Our guide just shook his head and said that in his experience no tourist had encountered any snakes on their own, but he likes his group to be aware that they exist so that they don't wander off alone. So whether it was a "pet" snake or a "wild" snake - I wouldn't want to trip over one!
requestaword is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:34 PM.