Wildlife series. In the jungles of Costa Rica, Steve is strangled by a boa, gets hands-on with a poisonous frog and nearly gets a nip from a blood-sucking vampire.
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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!
And this is my mission to find the Deadly 60.
That's not just animals that are deadly to me,
but animals that are deadly in their own world.
My crew and I are exploring the planet.
And you're coming with me, every step of the way.
The rainforests of Central America have more kinds of plant and animal
than anywhere else on earth.
The treetops are known as the canopy,
and form a whole wild city above the forest floor.
This time on Deadly 60 we're in Costa Rica in Central America.
A land of endless rainforests, active volcanoes
and loads of deadly animals.
At the bridge between North and South America, Costa Rica is
a tropical rainforest wonderland.
And bursting with possible contenders for the Deadly 60.
But it's hot, wet and humid, which makes it especially tough for us.
But perfect for our first contenders.
If you've seen Deadly 60 before,
you'll know I've got a bit of a thing for snakes.
This is an absolute beauty.
Absolutely gorgeous snake.
Most people think snakes are evil, slimy creatures
that are just waiting to leap from the bushes
and bite you on the bottom.
I'd like to do a bit of myth busting now, so I've assembled a hit list
of Costa Rica's most incredible snakes - they're complex,
they're fascinating and they're very, very different.
All we need is to figure out which one makes it onto the Deadly 60.
The first contender in our Costa Rican snake contest
is the mighty boa constrictor.
The largest snake in Central America,
they can grow up to 4m in length.
They eat rodents, lizards and birds.
And the larger ones have been known to eat monkeys, pigs and sloths.
They lurk hidden for days or even weeks at a time,
then use their formidable power to overcome their prey.
Not everyone likes snakes as much as me.
This boa constrictor had slithered into a local farmer's backyard.
I'm taking it back to the wild,
but first I want to show you their special skills.
Snakes have to eat their prey whole,
so a boa this size could never eat something as large as me.
But it could still choke the life out of me.
This magnificent creature...
..is a boa constrictor.
Boa refers to the group of snakes that this belongs to.
They're thick, heavy-bodied snakes.
What I'd really like to do is show you how it hunts,
that's the constrictor bit.
And to do that I'm going to need to get control of it.
Wow, listen to that hiss.
You can see it's not actually trying to bite me, those strikes
are just to try and frighten me away, as is the hissing sound.
'Believe me, with all that solid muscle,
'this isn't going to hurt the snake at all.'
Right, so, look into the mouth at those thin,
needle-shaped, backward-pointing teeth.
They're really vicious and designed for hooking into their prey.
'So this is what the boa does best.'
Let's see if I can show you a little more about how this snake hunts.
So now, you can see quite a lot of the snake's bulk
has gone straight around my neck.
Around here is where my windpipe is.
Where air comes in and out of my lungs.
And also where the arteries are that carry blood to my brain.
Now, as I breath out...
..the snake is very subtly
increasing the pressure around my throat.
As you can see.
That's making it more and more difficult for me to breathe.
And every time I breathe out it just tightens a little bit more.
Until eventually I can't get any air in or out of my lungs.
And already, at this stage...
..if I wasn't...just to ease the pressure...
..I would be finding breathing very difficult indeed.
This is what constricting means.
If you see me starting to go blue or purple in the face,
then I might need a little bit of help.
Constricting basically means to strangle,
to suffocate the life out of prey.
And that's how this magnificent animal...
..manages to kill the mammals it's feeding on.
Oh, his tail's going round the back of my neck now.
It's just finding places and ways of getting purchase to use
its really strong muscles
in choking me.
Now, I've only got quite a short time
that I can show you this before I'm going to have to release myself.
The amazing thing that happens next is that the boa constrictor
will actually start to swallow its prey whole.
And to do that, it can open this mouth incredibly wide.
Actually... Yeah, it's amazing how strong it is.
I mean, this snake is only actually feeding on mammals
about that sort of size, maximum.
And if it has the strength to choke the life out of me...
I mean, I must be ten times, 20 times the size of its normal prey.
And he easily has enough strength to choke me.
There's no doubting this is an incredibly strong predator.
I don't know, I think it's going to be very hard to beat.
-Can I take this off now, please?
If I can get her off my neck.
So, the boa constrictor is the muscle man
of the snake world here in Costa Rica.
Big, bulky, dashing and handsome.
Kind of like me, really.
What?! What's wrong with that?!
Anyway, our next contender could not be more different.
This is the wonderful eyelash pit viper.
This eyelash viper is another rescue case.
And is also going back to the wild
once it's shown us its deadly prowess.
Even if you're someone who hates snakes, you'd have to admit
that that is a really beautiful animal.
But they're also very highly-adapted hunters.
And the clue to that is in their name. Pit vipers.
That doesn't mean, as I thought when I was a kid, that they live in pits.
Actually what it's talking about is a tiny pit that they have
which is incredibly sensitive at picking up heat.
Now, I've got a special camera here.
Nice little toy.
Hopefully, I can get close enough to show you that pit.
Very carefully here.
I don't want to have it strike at me.
That's looking right down the heat-sensitive pit
of the eyelash pit viper.
Now, that pit works as a kind of sixth sense,
it can actually pick up heat.
And how that helps it hunting is that most of the animals
actually generate warmth in their muscles as they move.
So even if it's completely dark,
it can build up a three-dimensional picture
of anything that it wants to hunt
just using those incredible heat-sensitive pits.
Now, I've got a little Deadly 60 experiment
that I'm hoping will show you how those pits work.
I've been dying to give this a go.
Typical food for the eyelash pit viper
would be something like a small mouse,
perhaps a bat, they'll even catch hummingbirds on the wing.
The core body temperature of a bird or a small mammal is
around about 38 degrees.
So what I've got here is a balloon filled with hot water
that is almost exactly that temperature.
I'm going to move it in, close to the viper,
and hopefully I'll get it to strike towards the balloon.
Here, we've got our mini-cam set up and ready to record at high speed.
That means that we should see the strike slowed right down,
and be able to really appreciate quite how awesome it is.
Right, let's give it a go.
Let's see what happens.
That was amazing.
What do you reckon, Nick? You got it?
-Let's see, let's see.
Saw the mouth open almost so it was fully wide like that.
Almost so it was creating a stabbing kind of shape.
Rather than a downward strike.
And the fangs were almost used like daggers to pierce into the balloon.
That was amazing.
Can I have another go? Is it all right?!
-Can I have another go?!
-I could do this all day!
I can't see how any snake in the world is going to beat this.
That's so perfect, you can just see it re-setting itself at the end.
Just setting the jaw back, letting the fang come back into position.
That's incredible, absolutely incredible.
I can't see how anything's going to beat that.
But the last snake's very name strikes fear
into the hearts of the locals.
Bushmasters are the largest of the pit vipers,
growing up to four metres long.
It's such an impressive, dragon-like snake,
and can deliver enormous amounts of lethal venom.
The venom works so fast, it can stop a rat in seconds
and could kill a man in minutes.
One of the snake's most potent weapons
is its ability to blend into the background.
Its camouflage is so good you could walk right by one and not see it.
To help me show you how effective this camouflage is,
Pompilio, a local snake expert, is going to hide this bushmaster.
And I'm going to see if I can find it.
If one of us accidentally stepped on the bushmaster,
it'd probably bite in defence.
And that would be very bad indeed.
Pompilio's going to watch where we walk very carefully.
OK, boys, snake's hidden.
Yeah, keep right in the centre of the trail,
let me do the kind of looking.
And hopefully they'll warn us if we get too close.
I'm going to start looking around about here.
Now, Pompy said he's not going to put it
too far off the side of the trail.
It's going to be very, very close.
Just look down here, looking into this leaf, you can see what it is
that makes the snake so well camouflaged.
The leaves are all different colours.
Some of them are dark, some of them are light,
and they all tend to have that triangular pattern to them
which runs down the back of the bushmaster.
That's how it blends in so well on the forest floor.
Big heavy-bodied pit like that, they don't climb like the eyelash viper.
They're always down on the ground.
OK, this would be a great spot.
The only time I have actually seen a bushmaster in the wild,
it was coiled up right alongside a log, like just here.
It would be perfect, but it's not there.
I'm pretty sure it's not there.
Am I getting warmer, Pompey?
Tell me, I don't know.
-I don't think I'm very doing well.
I have it.
Oh, that is just amazing.
OK, I'm going to go in quietly and carefully so it doesn't move.
And I think you'll have a lot of trouble spotting it.
Right, OK, so,
follow the end of my stick.
That is its head.
-Can you see that?
Just remarkable, the way all those diamond patterns down the back
and the stripe down the back of its neck
completely break up its outline
and make it almost invisible.
And this is exactly the kind of position this snake will hang in,
perhaps for days on end, waiting for a meal to come past.
Right, let's get him out so I can show you him properly.
Such a heavy-bodied, thick snake,
and all of that weight is
used to anchor it down
as it strikes.
Really heavily, what's called, keeled scales.
And absolutely magnificent.
Well, I have to say, I'm a little bit undecided.
I mean, all three have been utterly magnificent.
What do you think, guys? Nick, what do you reckon?
-I'm going bushmaster.
-Yeah? Why's that?
-It's a mean snake!
-Do you know what, I'd like to stick with the eyelash viper.
This is really tough.
There is no doubt all three snakes deserve a place on the Deadly 60.
The boa is, by far, the most powerful.
The eyelash viper is accurate enough to catch hummingbirds on the wing.
And the bushmaster has enough venom to bring down a buffalo.
It seems wrong to pick just one,
but because of its incredible display on the day,
I'm giving it to the eyelash pit viper.
Maybe we'll catch up with the bushmaster and boa another time.
So fast they can catch a hummingbird on the wing,
with fierce, fast-acting viper venom
and heat-sensitive pits that help it hunt in pitch darkness,
eyelash pit viper could be the most striking snake on the Deadly 60.
'Right, time for a bit of bush-bashing,
'and a quest for our next crazy creature.
'But first, a quick quiz.'
South and Central America, which is also known as Latin America,
has hundreds of different kinds of poisonous and venomous animals.
In fact, the most poisonous animal in the whole world is right here
in Latin American forests.
But its identity might surprise you.
What do you think it is?
No, miles off.
In actual fact, the most poisonous creature in the world,
by some distance, is a tiny frog no bigger than the end of my thumb.
They're called poison dart frogs
and one beautiful variety is found here around us.
Poison dart frogs secrete poison onto their skins.
When Colombian Indians are hunting,
they wipe their blowpipe darts on the back of the frog.
Any animal they hit with their dart will be dead within minutes.
These technicoloured amphibians
come in an array of different bright colours,
warning how dangerous they are.
So, I'm going to enlist the help of my crew to try and find one.
-Guys, you up for it?
-OK, so what we're listening for
is a sound which goes something like...
HE MAKES RASPING SOUND
Go scrabble around in the leaves, see if you can find one.
'They are only tiny and very difficult to find,
'but many spying eyes should increase our odds.'
Use a stick, rather than your hands. There are lots of snakes around.
Have they found one yet?
I'll just relax until they find one. They could be some time.
-It's hard work, isn't it, frog searching?
'Yeah, thanks, guys(!)
'There no I in team, right?'
(You've got to stick near the expert...)
(..then pretend you found it.)
Just in here. Listen. In there.
OK, no, there's three, there's three in there.
Now, I've made sure that I've washed my hands,
because these frogs are very, very sensitive in the skin.
And you don't want insect repellent or anything hurting them.
Most people are absolutely blown away the first time
they see a dart frog by how small they are.
It's incredible to think that an animal this size
can be the most poisonous on the planet.
Those bright, bright colours are part of the reason
that this frog is actually found active during the day.
Every other frog round here comes out at night time.
It's deafening, with the calls of frogs.
But these dart frogs can be active during the day
and they are brightly coloured because they know that predators
are going to see these colours and know it means just one thing -
this is highly poisonous and certainly not good to eat.
So, the poisons that are created by this little frog
are one of the absolute miracles of nature.
Originally, they start off in the leaves of plants.
Ants eat the leaves, frogs eat the ants
and then they almost sweat the poison out on their skin.
There's one species of dart frog, about the same size as this one,
it's found in Colombia, and it has enough poison in its body
to kill ten people. That's pretty incredible.
This tiny little animal is a living chemical-weapons factory
and, for that reason alone, it's got to go on the Deadly 60.
Small, but utterly deadly,
their vibrant colours say, "Don't eat me - or else."
Some species have the most powerful natural poisons on the planet.
On the edge of the forest, a lot of people make their living
through cattle ranches, but there is one lethal predator
that comes in at night and feeds on the cows.
This guy here, Don Fernando, has a ranch
and he is hopefully going to show me the damage done to his cattle.
Pass that through to me.
'But first, a bit of hardcore... cow catching.'
Cow wrangling. Don't you just love it(?)
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
This is one of the cows that's been preyed on by our deadly predator.
You can just see here... We can see the evidence of the presence
of our next deadly animal.
This is all dried blood. It's been lapped up
and then spilled down onto the fur.
The next animal we're looking for is a vampire.
The farmer reckons that the vampires spend their days in a nearby cave.
So, just there ahead of us, that dark hole is a cave.
That's where we're heading.
Watch your step, it's slippery.
Heading into the dark where the vampires roost
is seriously spooky stuff.
Whose idea was this?!
'The cave stinks with hundreds of years of poo.
'It's the perfect hidey hole for bats.'
In the darkest corners of the cave,
fluttering shapes catch my eye.
Oh, look at that!
(Let's see what we can get.)
Can you see that, Johnny?
-Yep, got one.
So what I have in this bag is an animal that's probably
inspired more myth and legend
than any other animal in the world.
It's a vampire bat.
They have also possibly the sharpest teeth of any animal,
which explains why I'm wearing these big, thick gardening gloves
before I even think about trying to get it out.
Last time I tried to do this, it bit clean through the glove
and into my finger.
So I'm going to go quite careful.
Let's get you into a good position.
Look at him whirling around to try and get his...huge canine teeth
into my fingers.
So that is the face that all the fuss is about.
The vampire bat.
If you look at its mouth, you can see the most special set of teeth
found just about anywhere.
Above me now is a roost of about 30 or 40 vampire bats.
At night, they'll take wing...
..using that remarkable wing membrane,
and fly out in search of a warm-blood meal.
They use the ridiculously sharp teeth
at the front of the mouth here...
I don't want to get my finger too close,
I just know I'll get bitten on camera!
But they shave away a portion of hair from the animal
they're going to be feeding on,
and then bite a tiny hole and then lap away at the blood
that leaks out, and their saliva keeps the blood flowing,
it's what's called an anticoagulant.
They take in about a soup spoon of blood, which doesn't sound like much
but when you look at the size of this tiny bat,
actually, for its body weight,
that's an enormous meal.
While it might seem that everything about vampire bats
is just a bit grim and grotesque,
amongst themselves, they're really quite thoughtful creatures.
In fact, if they come back from having got a very good meal,
and there's another bat here that hasn't managed to feed,
one of these guys will actually regurgitate their blood meal
and give some to the other bat.
They look after each other.
So, vampire bats - they may be the creature of nightmares
but with possibly the sharpest teeth in the whole animal kingdom,
I reckon they're worth a place on the Deadly 60.
-Where's he gone? He's not on my back, is he?
With the sharpest teeth in the world,
guzzling a third of their body weight in blood every meal,
they're ghastly, blood-sucking nightmares.
Join me next time for more deadly animal encounters.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Steve Backshall and his long-suffering crew return for a series of deadly encounters with animals hoping to earn a place on his hallowed Deadly 60 list.
Steve and the team are in the jungles of Costa Rica. On his search for the Deadly 60, Steve gets strangled by a giant boa, is struck dumb by the strike speed of a viper, and plays hide-and-seek with a deadly bushmaster. As if that wasn't enough, he gets hands-on with a poisonous frog - and nearly gets a nip from a blood-sucking vampire!