Creatures of the Night

Went for a night walk after lecture and work time in the classroom, motivating myself with thoughts of jaguars and bats after a long day in the hot sun moving ants around from acacia tree to acacia tree. (There is a cool ant-tree mutualism in which the tree provides special food supplies for the ants, called Beltian bodies and extrafloral nectaries for protein and sugar respectively, and the ants in return ruthlessly attack any intruder on their territory, including unwitting backpacks.)

I guess like me there are a fair number of critters who can’t fall asleep out here. No jaguars were met (yet) but we saw some other night hunters, including bats and, more excitingly, tarantulas. They move like predators, cruising over the leaf litter on their delicate feet keeping their more impressive mouthparts and fuzzy bodies aloft. 

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We saw a spider near to this one catch a sizable cricket and consume it hungrily before our eyes. The tarantula seemed unmoved by this view, and more interested in continuing its own explorations.

Almost back at the station, I spotted a reddish-orange eye reflection in the shrubs. The spiders’ eyes had shone back white or blue-ish, and cats were supposed to glow green, so I wasn’t sure what it could be. On closer (careful) investigation, we found this little guy staying perfectly still on the ground, blending in perfectly except for those reflective eyes.

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Can you see the bird? It’s a paraque, a fairly common night bird often seen on roads and in clear spaces. Not sure what it was doing there or why it would want to perch so still on the ground with so many hunters around, but a good find nonetheless. 

Bedtime now, for me at least. The howler monkeys will be up at 5, and I have breakfast at 6:30, but the party (for some) rages on outside while predators of all sizes swoop, crawl, slither, pounce, and wait outside.

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One comment on “Creatures of the Night

  1. piecedgoods says:

    Are you sure you want to meet a jaguar? Do paraques get run over and become flat birds if they sit in the road? What do the ants do to attack backpacks? So many questions!

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