NOTE: “Hot Stove Herping’ is a phrase I coined years ago, for use in end-of-year posts on the old Field Herp Forum. I stole it from baseball; members of the ‘hot stove league’ huddle together during the cold winter months and talk baseball until spring and the game comes back. In a similar fashion, field herpers living in moderate climates hunker down amid the cold and snow and think of the year that passed, and dream of the coming spring.
Ah, Paraguay. Paraguay is a beautiful country but desperately needs to revamp their immigration bureaucracy – three members of our group were turned back at Customs for ‘suspected forgery of Covid documents’ (they weren’t). Needless to say, this was a shock to all of us and a sad start to the trip. The unlucky three were flown back to the States while the rest of us pressed on.
Our whittled-down group waited in Asunción for an extra day, waiting for Tim to show up (the airline pulled his flight and he spent an extra day in Panama City). So while waiting, we spent our time in local parks and arboretums, looking for whatever herps we could find. The first herps of the trip were in a vacant lot near the airport – Miranda’s White-lipped Frogs (Leptodactylus macrosternum). Here we go!
Hiking around the botanical gardens, we turned up a few Hemidactylus mabouia (which are everywhere these days it seems) and a Barker Frog (Physalaemus cuvieri).
The first night we headed to some open marshy areas NE of Asunción to do some road-cruising and maybe poke around the water a bit. We saw a number of Mato Grosso Snouted Treefrogs (Scinax acuminatus) on the road, most of them squashed by traffic.
Stopping where the road bisected a marsh, we headed down a steep embankment to the water’s edge and there we turned up some cool amphibians, including a Bella Vista Toad (Rhinella fernandezae).
Another frog spotted near the water was this Veined Treefrog (Trachycephalus typhonius). I’ve seen this species in Mexico, Peru, and now Paraguay – I’m waiting for someone to work on this widespread species and update its taxonomic status. but in the meantime I love those green toe discs.
We also turned up a really cool Blacksmith Treefrog (Boana faber), which is named after the male’s call.
Over the course of the trip we would see many Schneider’s Toads (Rhinella schneideri), but this was the first. As my daughter Ann says, this toad skips leg day.
We got Tim from the airport (and there was more bureaucratic bullshit, but he finally got through immigration) and our group hit the road, headed west towards Filadelfia. Devon had rented a Jeep Cherokee and I drove this Isuzu pickup, a diesel-powered five-speed that was perfect for where we were going, and the MPG was spectacular as well.
Filadelfia is a small town surrounded by farms and dirt/sand roads. A cold front coming up from Antarctica further complicated things – we fought cold temperatures for several days. All we could do was to keep driving at night and keep poking around watercourses during the day.
We weren’t seeing any snakes while road cruising during these cooler days, but we did find this Chaco Side-necked Turtle (Acanthochelys pallidipectoris) crossing a blacktop road, which for me, was a top find.
After that, temperatures started coming back up and we started to find snakes, including this Wied’s Ground Snake (Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus).
Weeping Frogs (Physalaemus biligonigerus) were present throughout the trip – very charismatic and variable in color and patterns, these little anurans. They get their name from the male’s call, which I got to hear on several occasions.
The temps came up and now the hots came out to play. Our first pit viper was this Painted Lancehead (Bothrops diporus), crossing a blacktop right after dark.
We found several more diporus that night and it felt good to start finding snakes in numbers.
The same night, the guys in the Jeep found a Neotropical Rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus) on one of the dirt farm roads.
Heading back to our hotel early in the morning, we spotted a serpent crossing in the sand in front of the car – it was a Argentinian Coral Snake (Micrurus pyrrhocryptus).
Poking around watercourse during the day turned up some interesting finds, including a number of Vizcacheras’ White-lipped Frogs (Leptodactylus bufonius). Very attractive and they remind me of North American spadefoots.
A small pond and an adjacent lake held numbers of Yacare Caiman (Caiman yacare), the first of many to come.
I think it was Jake who spotted the first of the several Paraguayan Swimming Froga (Pseudis platensis).
We managed to catch several of the Pseudis with a dip net to get better photos.
A wetland area productive for both herps and birds.
The Jeep crew found a beautiful Chacoan Leaf Frog (Phyllomedusa sauvagii).
Stay tuned for Part Two!