Patterns in the spatio-temporal ecology of Crotalus simus (Serpentes: Viperidae) in Costa Rica

Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supports Felipe Triana in 2022 to increase awareness about snakes in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  His project focuses on determining spatio-temporal ecological patterns (home range, movement rates, and micro and macrohabitat selection) in snakes located in protected areas and relocated snakes, using the Central American rattlesnake as a case study.

Project Title:

Patterns in the spatiotemporal ecology of Crotalus simus (Serpentes: Viperidae) in Costa Rica: comparison between relocated individuals and individuals located in protected areas

Project Summary:

Translocation of snakes is one of the most implemented strategies when humans encounter snakes. This strategy has been developed in response to the decline of snake populations caused by habitat loss, persecution by humans and the lack of knowledge about their ecology. However, the literature is controversial on the efficacy of translocation. Although some studies have shown to be in agreement with this conservation strategy, others have shown that many species demonstrate affectations to their ecological parameters and that, on many occasions, survival is not guaranteed. Thus, knowing the spatio-temporal use of snakes in an ecosystem is fundamental for the development of specific and efficient conservation strategies. Additionally, knowing the ecology of these animals would allow us to identify the most vulnerable regions where snake envenoming is a high risk.

This project focuses on determining the spatio-temporal ecological patterns (home range, movement rates, and micro and macrohabitat selection) in snakes within protected areas and relocated snakes, using the Central American rattlesnake as a case study. This will be done using radiotelemetry tracking techniques. Through the implantation of radiotransmitters, individuals that are located in the Santa Rosa National Park and individuals recently relocated by the national authorities will be followed. This tracking will be done for a minimum of one year for each individual. Once the species’ home ranges, movement rates and habitat selection are established, it is intended to compare these estimators between both studied populations. This comparison will quantify how effective the relocation of animals is as a management and conservation strategy. The results from this study will be part of an MSc thesis of a student at the University of Costa Rica and will also be used in the framework of a national project in collaboration with the Fire Department of Costa Rica to develop more efficient conservation strategies for snakes. During the field trips, human populations that are currently highly affected by snakebite envenomation’s in Guanacaste will be provided with educational programs about the importance of snakes and snakebite prevention measures.

Aims and Objectives:

This project aims to create better conservation strategies for snakes in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. At an environmental level, knowing the ecological characteristics of rattlesnakes will assist in elucidating the ecosystem requirements of these animals. This is fundamental for (1) the development of more effective management and conservation plans and (2) the understanding of the particularities that protected areas and relocation areas must have for the conservation of these animals. This project also offers an opportunity to create a tool to estimate hot spots in the distribution of rattlesnakes, their movement patterns, and preferred habitats. This information will then be used in the management plans for ophidic accidents, by identifying vulnerable regions.


The goals of this project include estimating the home range and movement rates of the central American rattlesnake, creating a list of the regions affected by the ophidian accidents and educating people in the affected regions. We will evaluate the characteristics of the habitats selected by rattlesnakes, compare this to the conservation strategies for other snakes in Costa Rica and create new management plans or improve existing plans for conservation.

Providing a snake training and safety workshop to firemen.

Support Snake Conservation

Felipe Triana’s12 project is a recipient of the 2022 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like their snake conservation project in Costa Rica. Thank you for your support.