Costa Rica Deadly 60


Costa Rica

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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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!

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And this is my mission to find the Deadly 60.

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That's not just animals that are deadly to me,

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but animals that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are exploring the planet.

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And you're coming with me, every step of the way.

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The rainforests of Central America have more kinds of plant and animal

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than anywhere else on earth.

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The treetops are known as the canopy,

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and form a whole wild city above the forest floor.

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This time on Deadly 60 we're in Costa Rica in Central America.

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A land of endless rainforests, active volcanoes

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and loads of deadly animals.

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At the bridge between North and South America, Costa Rica is

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a tropical rainforest wonderland.

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And bursting with possible contenders for the Deadly 60.

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But it's hot, wet and humid, which makes it especially tough for us.

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But perfect for our first contenders.

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If you've seen Deadly 60 before,

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you'll know I've got a bit of a thing for snakes.

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This is an absolute beauty.

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Woah-hoo-hoo!

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Absolutely gorgeous snake.

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Most people think snakes are evil, slimy creatures

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that are just waiting to leap from the bushes

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and bite you on the bottom.

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I'd like to do a bit of myth busting now, so I've assembled a hit list

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of Costa Rica's most incredible snakes - they're complex,

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they're fascinating and they're very, very different.

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All we need is to figure out which one makes it onto the Deadly 60.

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The first contender in our Costa Rican snake contest

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is the mighty boa constrictor.

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The largest snake in Central America,

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they can grow up to 4m in length.

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They eat rodents, lizards and birds.

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And the larger ones have been known to eat monkeys, pigs and sloths.

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They lurk hidden for days or even weeks at a time,

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then use their formidable power to overcome their prey.

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Not everyone likes snakes as much as me.

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This boa constrictor had slithered into a local farmer's backyard.

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I'm taking it back to the wild,

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but first I want to show you their special skills.

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Snakes have to eat their prey whole,

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so a boa this size could never eat something as large as me.

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But it could still choke the life out of me.

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This magnificent creature...

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..is a boa constrictor.

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Boa refers to the group of snakes that this belongs to.

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They're thick, heavy-bodied snakes.

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What I'd really like to do is show you how it hunts,

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that's the constrictor bit.

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And to do that I'm going to need to get control of it.

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Wow, listen to that hiss.

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SNAKE HISSES

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You can see it's not actually trying to bite me, those strikes

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are just to try and frighten me away, as is the hissing sound.

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'Believe me, with all that solid muscle,

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'this isn't going to hurt the snake at all.'

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Right, so, look into the mouth at those thin,

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needle-shaped, backward-pointing teeth.

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They're really vicious and designed for hooking into their prey.

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'So this is what the boa does best.'

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Right.

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Let's see if I can show you a little more about how this snake hunts.

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So now, you can see quite a lot of the snake's bulk

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has gone straight around my neck.

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Around here is where my windpipe is.

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Where air comes in and out of my lungs.

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And also where the arteries are that carry blood to my brain.

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Now, as I breath out...

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..the snake is very subtly

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increasing the pressure around my throat.

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As you can see.

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That's making it more and more difficult for me to breathe.

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And every time I breathe out it just tightens a little bit more.

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Until eventually I can't get any air in or out of my lungs.

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And already, at this stage...

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..if I wasn't...just to ease the pressure...

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..I would be finding breathing very difficult indeed.

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This is what constricting means.

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If you see me starting to go blue or purple in the face,

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then I might need a little bit of help.

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Constricting basically means to strangle,

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to suffocate the life out of prey.

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And that's how this magnificent animal...

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SNAKE HISSES

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..manages to kill the mammals it's feeding on.

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Oh, his tail's going round the back of my neck now.

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It's just finding places and ways of getting purchase to use

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its really strong muscles

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in choking me.

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Now, I've only got quite a short time

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that I can show you this before I'm going to have to release myself.

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The amazing thing that happens next is that the boa constrictor

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will actually start to swallow its prey whole.

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And to do that, it can open this mouth incredibly wide.

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Oh!

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Actually... Yeah, it's amazing how strong it is.

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I mean, this snake is only actually feeding on mammals

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about that sort of size, maximum.

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And if it has the strength to choke the life out of me...

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I mean, I must be ten times, 20 times the size of its normal prey.

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And he easily has enough strength to choke me.

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There's no doubting this is an incredibly strong predator.

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I don't know, I think it's going to be very hard to beat.

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-Can I take this off now, please?

-Yep.

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If I can get her off my neck.

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So, the boa constrictor is the muscle man

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of the snake world here in Costa Rica.

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Big, bulky, dashing and handsome.

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Kind of like me, really.

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What?! What's wrong with that?!

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Anyway, our next contender could not be more different.

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This is the wonderful eyelash pit viper.

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This eyelash viper is another rescue case.

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And is also going back to the wild

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once it's shown us its deadly prowess.

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Even if you're someone who hates snakes, you'd have to admit

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that that is a really beautiful animal.

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But they're also very highly-adapted hunters.

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And the clue to that is in their name. Pit vipers.

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That doesn't mean, as I thought when I was a kid, that they live in pits.

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Actually what it's talking about is a tiny pit that they have

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which is incredibly sensitive at picking up heat.

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Now, I've got a special camera here.

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Nice little toy.

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Hopefully, I can get close enough to show you that pit.

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Very carefully here.

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I don't want to have it strike at me.

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That's looking right down the heat-sensitive pit

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of the eyelash pit viper.

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Now, that pit works as a kind of sixth sense,

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it can actually pick up heat.

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And how that helps it hunting is that most of the animals

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actually generate warmth in their muscles as they move.

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So even if it's completely dark,

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it can build up a three-dimensional picture

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of anything that it wants to hunt

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just using those incredible heat-sensitive pits.

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Now, I've got a little Deadly 60 experiment

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that I'm hoping will show you how those pits work.

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I've been dying to give this a go.

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Typical food for the eyelash pit viper

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would be something like a small mouse,

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perhaps a bat, they'll even catch hummingbirds on the wing.

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The core body temperature of a bird or a small mammal is

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around about 38 degrees.

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So what I've got here is a balloon filled with hot water

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that is almost exactly that temperature.

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I'm going to move it in, close to the viper,

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and hopefully I'll get it to strike towards the balloon.

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Here, we've got our mini-cam set up and ready to record at high speed.

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That means that we should see the strike slowed right down,

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and be able to really appreciate quite how awesome it is.

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Right, let's give it a go.

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Let's see what happens.

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HE LAUGHS

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That was amazing.

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What do you reckon, Nick? You got it?

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-Yeah, definitely.

-Let's see, let's see.

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Incredible.

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Absolutely incredible.

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Saw the mouth open almost so it was fully wide like that.

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Almost so it was creating a stabbing kind of shape.

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Rather than a downward strike.

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And the fangs were almost used like daggers to pierce into the balloon.

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That was amazing.

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Can I have another go? Is it all right?!

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-Can I have another go?!

-Definitely.

-I could do this all day!

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I can't see how any snake in the world is going to beat this.

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That's so perfect, you can just see it re-setting itself at the end.

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Just setting the jaw back, letting the fang come back into position.

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That's incredible, absolutely incredible.

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I can't see how anything's going to beat that.

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But the last snake's very name strikes fear

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into the hearts of the locals.

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Bushmasters are the largest of the pit vipers,

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growing up to four metres long.

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It's such an impressive, dragon-like snake,

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and can deliver enormous amounts of lethal venom.

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The venom works so fast, it can stop a rat in seconds

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and could kill a man in minutes.

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One of the snake's most potent weapons

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is its ability to blend into the background.

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Its camouflage is so good you could walk right by one and not see it.

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To help me show you how effective this camouflage is,

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Pompilio, a local snake expert, is going to hide this bushmaster.

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And I'm going to see if I can find it.

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If one of us accidentally stepped on the bushmaster,

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it'd probably bite in defence.

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And that would be very bad indeed.

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Pompilio's going to watch where we walk very carefully.

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OK, boys, snake's hidden.

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-Right, OK.

-Any advice?

-Any advice?

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Yeah, keep right in the centre of the trail,

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let me do the kind of looking.

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And hopefully they'll warn us if we get too close.

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I'm going to start looking around about here.

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Now, Pompy said he's not going to put it

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too far off the side of the trail.

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It's going to be very, very close.

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So...

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Just look down here, looking into this leaf, you can see what it is

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that makes the snake so well camouflaged.

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The leaves are all different colours.

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Some of them are dark, some of them are light,

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and they all tend to have that triangular pattern to them

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which runs down the back of the bushmaster.

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That's how it blends in so well on the forest floor.

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Big heavy-bodied pit like that, they don't climb like the eyelash viper.

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They're always down on the ground.

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OK, this would be a great spot.

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The only time I have actually seen a bushmaster in the wild,

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it was coiled up right alongside a log, like just here.

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It would be perfect, but it's not there.

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I'm pretty sure it's not there.

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OK.

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Am I getting warmer, Pompey?

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Mm...

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Tell me, I don't know.

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-STEVE LAUGHS

-I don't think I'm very doing well.

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Ah.

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I have it.

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OK.

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Oh, that is just amazing.

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OK, I'm going to go in quietly and carefully so it doesn't move.

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And I think you'll have a lot of trouble spotting it.

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Right, OK, so,

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follow the end of my stick.

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That is its head.

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-Can you see that?

-Yep.

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Yeah?

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Just remarkable, the way all those diamond patterns down the back

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and the stripe down the back of its neck

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completely break up its outline

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and make it almost invisible.

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And this is exactly the kind of position this snake will hang in,

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perhaps for days on end, waiting for a meal to come past.

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Right, let's get him out so I can show you him properly.

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Such a heavy-bodied, thick snake,

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and all of that weight is

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used to anchor it down

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as it strikes.

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Really heavily, what's called, keeled scales.

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Very dinosaur-like.

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And absolutely magnificent.

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Well, I have to say, I'm a little bit undecided.

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I mean, all three have been utterly magnificent.

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What do you think, guys? Nick, what do you reckon?

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-I'm going bushmaster.

-Yeah? Why's that?

-It's a mean snake!

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-Em?

-Do you know what, I'd like to stick with the eyelash viper.

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This is really tough.

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There is no doubt all three snakes deserve a place on the Deadly 60.

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The boa is, by far, the most powerful.

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The eyelash viper is accurate enough to catch hummingbirds on the wing.

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And the bushmaster has enough venom to bring down a buffalo.

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It seems wrong to pick just one,

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but because of its incredible display on the day,

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I'm giving it to the eyelash pit viper.

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Maybe we'll catch up with the bushmaster and boa another time.

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So fast they can catch a hummingbird on the wing,

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with fierce, fast-acting viper venom

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and heat-sensitive pits that help it hunt in pitch darkness,

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eyelash pit viper could be the most striking snake on the Deadly 60.

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'Right, time for a bit of bush-bashing,

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'and a quest for our next crazy creature.

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'But first, a quick quiz.'

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South and Central America, which is also known as Latin America,

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has hundreds of different kinds of poisonous and venomous animals.

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In fact, the most poisonous animal in the whole world is right here

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in Latin American forests.

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But its identity might surprise you.

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What do you think it is?

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-A snake?

-Nope.

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-Any ideas?

-A scorpion?

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No, miles off.

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In actual fact, the most poisonous creature in the world,

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by some distance, is a tiny frog no bigger than the end of my thumb.

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They're called poison dart frogs

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and one beautiful variety is found here around us.

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Poison dart frogs secrete poison onto their skins.

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When Colombian Indians are hunting,

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they wipe their blowpipe darts on the back of the frog.

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Any animal they hit with their dart will be dead within minutes.

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These technicoloured amphibians

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come in an array of different bright colours,

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warning how dangerous they are.

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So, I'm going to enlist the help of my crew to try and find one.

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-Guys, you up for it?

-Yep.

-OK, so what we're listening for

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is a sound which goes something like...

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HE MAKES RASPING SOUND

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Go scrabble around in the leaves, see if you can find one.

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'They are only tiny and very difficult to find,

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'but many spying eyes should increase our odds.'

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Use a stick, rather than your hands. There are lots of snakes around.

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Have they found one yet?

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I'll just relax until they find one. They could be some time.

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-It's hard work, isn't it, frog searching?

-It is.

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'Yeah, thanks, guys(!)

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'There no I in team, right?'

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(You've got to stick near the expert...)

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(..then pretend you found it.)

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Just in here. Listen. In there.

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OK, no, there's three, there's three in there.

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Now, I've made sure that I've washed my hands,

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because these frogs are very, very sensitive in the skin.

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And you don't want insect repellent or anything hurting them.

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Most people are absolutely blown away the first time

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they see a dart frog by how small they are.

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It's incredible to think that an animal this size

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can be the most poisonous on the planet.

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Those bright, bright colours are part of the reason

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that this frog is actually found active during the day.

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Every other frog round here comes out at night time.

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It's deafening, with the calls of frogs.

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But these dart frogs can be active during the day

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and they are brightly coloured because they know that predators

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are going to see these colours and know it means just one thing -

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this is highly poisonous and certainly not good to eat.

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So, the poisons that are created by this little frog

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are one of the absolute miracles of nature.

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Originally, they start off in the leaves of plants.

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Ants eat the leaves, frogs eat the ants

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and then they almost sweat the poison out on their skin.

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There's one species of dart frog, about the same size as this one,

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it's found in Colombia, and it has enough poison in its body

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to kill ten people. That's pretty incredible.

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This tiny little animal is a living chemical-weapons factory

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and, for that reason alone, it's got to go on the Deadly 60.

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Small, but utterly deadly,

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their vibrant colours say, "Don't eat me - or else."

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Some species have the most powerful natural poisons on the planet.

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Dart frog?

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Deadly!

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On the edge of the forest, a lot of people make their living

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through cattle ranches, but there is one lethal predator

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that comes in at night and feeds on the cows.

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This guy here, Don Fernando, has a ranch

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and he is hopefully going to show me the damage done to his cattle.

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-Hola. Hola.

-Hola.

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Pass that through to me.

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'But first, a bit of hardcore... cow catching.'

0:21:210:21:25

Cow wrangling. Don't you just love it(?)

0:21:340:21:37

HE SPEAKS SPANISH

0:21:380:21:39

This is one of the cows that's been preyed on by our deadly predator.

0:21:490:21:54

You can just see here... We can see the evidence of the presence

0:21:540:21:59

of our next deadly animal.

0:21:590:22:01

This is all dried blood. It's been lapped up

0:22:010:22:05

and then spilled down onto the fur.

0:22:050:22:08

The next animal we're looking for is a vampire.

0:22:080:22:12

The farmer reckons that the vampires spend their days in a nearby cave.

0:22:270:22:32

So, just there ahead of us, that dark hole is a cave.

0:22:340:22:38

That's where we're heading.

0:22:380:22:41

Watch your step, it's slippery.

0:22:410:22:43

Heading into the dark where the vampires roost

0:22:460:22:49

is seriously spooky stuff.

0:22:490:22:52

Whose idea was this?!

0:22:520:22:53

Ugh!

0:22:570:22:58

'The cave stinks with hundreds of years of poo.

0:22:580:23:02

'It's the perfect hidey hole for bats.'

0:23:020:23:05

Ugh! Yuck!

0:23:050:23:08

WATER SPLASHES

0:23:080:23:11

Ugh!

0:23:110:23:13

In the darkest corners of the cave,

0:23:210:23:23

fluttering shapes catch my eye.

0:23:230:23:25

Oh, look at that!

0:23:250:23:28

BATS SQUEAK

0:23:290:23:32

(Right.)

0:23:340:23:35

(Let's see what we can get.)

0:23:350:23:37

Can you see that, Johnny?

0:23:390:23:41

BATS SQUEAK

0:23:410:23:43

-One in?

-Yep, got one.

0:23:550:23:56

So what I have in this bag is an animal that's probably

0:24:010:24:05

inspired more myth and legend

0:24:050:24:08

than any other animal in the world.

0:24:080:24:10

It's a vampire bat.

0:24:100:24:12

They have also possibly the sharpest teeth of any animal,

0:24:130:24:17

which explains why I'm wearing these big, thick gardening gloves

0:24:170:24:21

before I even think about trying to get it out.

0:24:210:24:23

Last time I tried to do this, it bit clean through the glove

0:24:270:24:31

and into my finger.

0:24:310:24:33

So I'm going to go quite careful.

0:24:330:24:35

BAT SQUEAKS

0:24:450:24:47

Right.

0:24:520:24:53

Let's get you into a good position.

0:24:530:24:56

Look at him whirling around to try and get his...huge canine teeth

0:24:570:25:03

into my fingers.

0:25:030:25:04

BAT SQUEAKS

0:25:040:25:07

OK.

0:25:070:25:08

So that is the face that all the fuss is about.

0:25:080:25:13

The vampire bat.

0:25:130:25:15

If you look at its mouth, you can see the most special set of teeth

0:25:160:25:20

found just about anywhere.

0:25:200:25:23

Above me now is a roost of about 30 or 40 vampire bats.

0:25:280:25:32

At night, they'll take wing...

0:25:320:25:36

BAT SQUEAKS

0:25:360:25:39

..using that remarkable wing membrane,

0:25:390:25:44

and fly out in search of a warm-blood meal.

0:25:440:25:47

They use the ridiculously sharp teeth

0:25:470:25:51

at the front of the mouth here...

0:25:510:25:53

I don't want to get my finger too close,

0:25:530:25:55

I just know I'll get bitten on camera!

0:25:550:25:57

But they shave away a portion of hair from the animal

0:25:570:26:00

they're going to be feeding on,

0:26:000:26:02

and then bite a tiny hole and then lap away at the blood

0:26:020:26:06

that leaks out, and their saliva keeps the blood flowing,

0:26:060:26:10

it's what's called an anticoagulant.

0:26:100:26:12

They take in about a soup spoon of blood, which doesn't sound like much

0:26:120:26:18

but when you look at the size of this tiny bat,

0:26:180:26:20

actually, for its body weight,

0:26:200:26:23

that's an enormous meal.

0:26:230:26:25

While it might seem that everything about vampire bats

0:26:250:26:28

is just a bit grim and grotesque,

0:26:280:26:31

amongst themselves, they're really quite thoughtful creatures.

0:26:310:26:35

In fact, if they come back from having got a very good meal,

0:26:350:26:38

and there's another bat here that hasn't managed to feed,

0:26:380:26:41

one of these guys will actually regurgitate their blood meal

0:26:410:26:44

and give some to the other bat.

0:26:440:26:46

They look after each other.

0:26:460:26:49

So, vampire bats - they may be the creature of nightmares

0:26:500:26:54

but with possibly the sharpest teeth in the whole animal kingdom,

0:26:540:26:57

I reckon they're worth a place on the Deadly 60.

0:26:570:27:00

-Where's he gone? He's not on my back, is he?

-No.

0:27:050:27:07

With the sharpest teeth in the world,

0:27:100:27:12

guzzling a third of their body weight in blood every meal,

0:27:120:27:15

they're ghastly, blood-sucking nightmares.

0:27:150:27:19

Vampire bats.

0:27:190:27:21

Yuck!

0:27:210:27:22

Join me next time for more deadly animal encounters.

0:27:340:27:37

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:530:27:56

Email [email protected]

0:27:560:27:59

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!


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