Monday, April 6, 2009

Poison Dart Frog

Here is another a poison dart frog. Similar to the blue jeans poison dart frog I showed a few days ago, I zoomed in from a distance. Poison dart frogs eat ants and mites. Because their food is so small, they spend a long time during the day foraging for food. As a defense while exposed to predators, they have toxic secretions on their skin.

So, why are they called poison dart frogs? The second photo illustrates the answer. I took this photo in the Amazon, not Costa Rica. We don't have indigenous peoples like that in Costa Rica, but this shows native Yagui tribe members demonstrating the use of poison darts. The natives wipe darts on the skin of a poison dart frog, put the darts in one end of a blow gun, then blow the darts to hit monkeys and other targets up in trees. The poison attacks the nervous system and causes the target to fall from the tree.

Please indulge me for a poison dart story, as I enjoy sharing a little humor at my wife's expense. The villagers above in the Peruvian Amazon made handicrafts for sale to visitors who hiked to their village. My wife bought several items, including a short blow dart gun. She carried it around with her all day. It was on her lap as we took the boat back to our lodge. After showering and getting ready for dinner, she picked it up again in our room and was going to blow on it just for the heck of it.

She brought the mouthpiece of the blow gun towards her mouth and just before it would have touched her lips, a giant beetle the size of a tangerine crawled out of the mouthpiece. She let out a scream that was heard by everyone throughout our lodge, indoors and out.

She dropped the blow dart gun on the bed, with the giant beetle crawling across the bed. She continued to scream, and of course it was my instinct and duty to rescue this damsel in distress. Using my skills from playing baseball as a child, I grabbed the blow gun and used it to whack the beetle off the bed. The beetle flew across the room, hit the wall with a thud, fell to the floor, and, to our surprise, started walking like a boxer who is knocked down but gets back up for more.

I then grabbed a shoe, dove across the bed and pounded the beetle to a pulp. After our adrenaline subsided to human levels, and after answering the questions from everyone else in our group about what was going on in our room that caused my wife to shriek so loudly, I had a few questions for her. The dialogue went something like this:

"Julie, when you were carrying this blow gun around all day, did you look through it and see daylight."

"I looked through it, but it was dark."

"Did it occur to you that a device that was made so that you put a dart in one end and blow it out the other end should be something that you can see right through, and that if it was dark there must be something inside it?"

Although my wife is really smart and quite well accomplished professionally, she answered, "No. That thought never crossed my mind."

I replied what our friends surely were thinking: "It must be a blond thing."


brattcat said...

Sorry, Dave, but I think you might have "blown" that one.

Sharon said...

Thanks for the morning laugh. Great story. I'm sorry to say, I would have been screaming about a bug the size of a tangerine too.

Julie said...

I remember that day well. I was in shock that I had been carrying the bug around all day. Uggh! The experience with the Yaqui villagers in Iquitos, Peru was very interesting though. I like the photo showing how the villagers use the blow dart guns and they still use them even today to shoot monkeys and others animals out of trees. The poison from the dart frogs is studied for its cancer fighting properties.

Judy said...

Thanks for the laugh. It's easy to laugh when it happens to someone else.
The little frog is beautiful. Are there a lot of them in Costa Rica? It is nice to see some of them thriving. The frog populations all over the world have decreased so much in the last 10 or so years. We used to have so many frogs here. They were everywhere, all over the roads and in every garden. I haven't seen any frogs around my house for years.

Unknown said...

So you've been in the peruvian Amazon! I spent a week at the Manu Biosphere, which is totally out of this world, one of the most amazing experiences in my life! :-) said...

We were supposed to go to Manu, but the plane that was supposed to fly us there was broken and they could not get the part to get if fixed for about a week, so we went to the Amazon near Iquitos instead. We ended up staying in at the Explorama Ceiba Tops Lodge, which was very nice and a lot less primitive than the typical accommodations in the Amazon. (We made very good use of the swimming pool and air conditioning after our hikes in the jungle each day, referred to by some as Bataan death marches.

Anonymous said...

This was a funny story. I waited to see if she was going to blow a dart, she didn't know was there, at your backside. LOL. I was surprised at the beetle.

My mom used to tell me that she didn't hate anything and all sorts of bugs were welcome but emphasized that meant "outside." If they came inside she would kill them. Usually with what we called a flyswatter.

Unknown said...

Your story made me laugh. I will always remember poison dart frogs because it.

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