Chiapas 2019

Ever since visiting Guatemala in 2017 we wanted to go back to Mesoamerica – both because of the amazing herp diversity that the area has to offer, but also because we failed to find Nyctanolis pernix and some other iconic species during trips before. After some thinking and debating, me, Bobby and Laura Bok, and Joachim Nerz eventually decided to go to the Mexican state of Chiapas. Besides an impressive diversity of salamanders, Chiapas is also home to multiple species of the reptile genera Abronia, Lepidophyma, and Bothriechis, while interesting species like Loxocemus bicolor, Heloderma horridum and Boa imperator can be found there as well. Finally, the presence of cool tree frogs (Agalychnis, Duellmanohyla, Triprion/Anotheca) and other venomous snakes (Micrurus, Crotalus, Agkistrodon) made us more than excited to visit this part of Mexico.

As opposed to some other southern Mexican states (like those in the Yucatan Peninsula), reptiles and amphibians in Chiapas are quite often range-restricted or microendemic, which makes it more challenging to see a lot species, even if you have three weeks to roam around. Due to a period of exceptional drought it only properly rained once when we were there, which made finding most species even more difficult. Nevertheless, we found about 80 species, and were stoked to find several of our main targets including Nyctanolis, Ixalotriton, two Abronia species, three Micrurus species, and Bothriechis bicolor, Loxocemus bicolor and Phrynosoma asio. A big thanks goes out to the new friends we made while being there, who took us to several top spots. 

Before we left, we recieved dire warnings about safety at some of the places we wanted to go. We did go, and only got a weird vibe once. Perhaps we were lucky. What I mostly felt was that people were extremely friendly and helpful, and that calm and respectful communication goes a long way, especially when you’re among ethnic communities in the highlands. I’ll be back!