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Additional resources for Of Golden Toads and Serpents' Roads (Louise Lindsey Merrick Natural Environment Series, Np. 34)

Sample text

Unfortunately, this small nation, which gained independence in  (only a dozen years before my visit), is still threatened by its larger neighbor to the west, Guatemala. At the time of my visit, Guatemala did not officially recognize Belize (formerly British Honduras) as an independent nation; as a result, British militia are stationed throughout the country to help keep the peace. As I stepped off the plane, I was greeted by a wall of thick, damp air that fogged up my glasses and frizzed my already curly, black hair.

The way in which this frog copes with one of its main predators, the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus), is interesting as well. Though all amphibians have poisonous skin secretions, some species are more toxic than others. The fringe-lipped bat has learned to recognize calls of more poisonous species and thus avoid them, thereby concentrating on the tastier ones. So, at night when male frogs call to attract mates, bats listen for this distinctive song, which often results in a frog’s demise.

Light rains brought out numerous frogs and toads, many of which could be seen in roadside shallow pools. Searching such miniature ponds sometimes revealed cat-eyed snakes (Leptodeira annulata) on the prowl for their dinner of small amphibians. Also in search of food during the welcome rains was the showy, tricolored slug-eating snake (Sibon anthracops). These orange-, black-, and white-banded snakes feed almost entirely on slugs and snails. Possessing a modified lower jaw helps them to extract snails from their shells; they are well equipped to prey on these soft-bodied invertebrates.

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