In November 2013 I travelled in Panama for one month .
Panama is a Country in central america with the capital Panama City sharing a border with Costa Rica in the west and Colombia in the south. With approx. 75000 km² it is quite small but with the Panama Channel it owns a worldwide known attraction.
Approx. 45% of Panama are covered by forest and a big part of it is protected.
The World Spider Catalogue of N. Platnick lists the following Theraphosid species in Panama: Ami, Aphonopelma, Avicularia, Brachypelma, Lasiodora, Metriopelma, Pamphobeteus, Psalmopoeus, Sericopelma, Sphaerobothria, Stichoplastoris und Xenesthis
In Panama I found mostly Sericopelma sp. . The most interesting part of my observations was the coexistence of microhylid frogs and different Sericopelma spp. . I published an article about that in the following Edition of the Arachne:
Even in Panama City it is possible to discover different kinds of animals, including Spiders.
At the edge of downtown Panama City the Ancon Hill offers a great view on the City and the Panama Channel at the same time
Different araenomorh Spiders live on Ancon Hill
Besides various bird species it is possible to see many Aguties especially in the early morning hours. Five out of 11 Aguti species worldwide are considered endangered because of Habitat loss and hunting. It is said that these rodents own a delicious meat.
Also different reptiles and amphibians live on Ancon Hill, here a small Anoli sp.
Just after sunrise this colour morph of Dendrobates auratus is very active
Dendrobates auratus in its Habitat:
If one drives a bit into the direction of the Panama Channel it is possible to find Theraphosid Spiders . The species which can be found here is Sericopelma rubronitens. They dig burrows next to trails in the forest mostly unter roots or at the base of trees
Here a burrow with an Exuvie at its entrance
Different Sericopelma rubronitens in Habitat:
juvenile Sericopelma rubronitens
adult Sericopelma rubronitens female
After Panama City I travelled further north to Bocas del Toro, a Province in the northwest of Panama. Besides the mainland Bocas consists of multiple small and 6 larger Islands ( Colon, Bastimentos, Cristobal , Popa, Isla de Solarte, und Cayo Zapatilla )
Bocas del Toro:
Within the jungle of these Islands it is still possible to see many animals even though there is a lot of construction work.
Bocas del Toro is famous for its population of Oophaga pumillo. From island to island the colour morphs change and it was interesting to see that even if to colour morphs share the same habitat they never mixed.
red morph from Islas Bastimentos:
yellow morph from Islas Bastimentos:
Habitat Oophaga pumillo:
Concerning spiders it was possible to find Nephila clavipes
At night scorpions came out to hunt
Also Tarantulas live on these islands but it is very difficult to find them because in lowland areas ground dwelling crabs occupy all possible retreats. It should be possible to find Psalmopoeus sp, Ami bladesi and a rubronitens like Sericopelma. I was able to find a brownish Sericopelma spp on one of the islands. It was more or less coincidence because the burrow didn`t look inhibitated at all.
After Bocas i went into the hillsides in central Panama. A nice place fot trekking and spiders is El Valle de Anton. It is situated in an old vulcano crater.
Typical for the cloud forest around here are lots of epiphytes on all of the trees
A Micrathena sp. living inside the cloud forest
Also Psalmopoeus pulcher lives here but I was not able to find it in the short time i spent here. But it is possible to find a very large Sericopelma sp.
Another nice mountainous area is the Parque Nacional Santa Fe de Veraguas with lots of natural forest.
Especially on trees it is possible to see interesting species at night like this Mantid.
Possibly Ancylometes sp. (Ctenidae)
Sericopelma is abundant in high numbers. They mostly look like Sericopelma rubronitens from Panama City but seemed to be a bit larger when adult. These spiders often shared their burrow with microhylid frogs.
Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata at burrow entrance of a Sericopelma sp.
Different Sericopelma sp. in Habitat:
I also discovered some Aphonopelma, they were with 3 cm bodylength quite small
Near the coastal area a different Sericopelma sp. is found. This colourful species from the Azuero Peninsula shared its Environment with Aphonopelma belindae
Sericopelma sp. Azuero
Apnohopelma belindae. This species reacts very defensive if disturbed
Burrow entrance, covered with silk at day which is very uncommon for ( south/ central ) american tarantulas
Aphonopelma belindae at burrow entrance
Habitat Aphonopelma belindae
More up to the north there is another colourful Sericopelma sp. This Spider also shared its burrow with Chiasmocleis ventrimaculata
This species builds very deep burrows and it is very shy so it is difficult to take propper Pictures of them at daytime
At night it is very easy to find and photograph them.
here some juveniles