Poison of Overconfidence

by matt on May 23, 2011

Poison Dart Frog Mario’s eyes widened in stupefied shock as I reached down and grabbed a brightly patterned creature from the lush jungle floor. A genuine childlike curiosity has always compelled my hands to latch, fiddle, and examine the mysterious items which inspire this desire. Mario adamantly rejected an offer to hold this beautiful species as it crawled over my skin much to his fascinated horror. I admit I found the event mildly amusing with the arrogant knowledge that I was perfectly secure while he disagreed.

Today was an exciting day as I discovered not only a common Green and Black poison dart frog but a rare threatened Granular Poison frog thriving in mostly secondary rainforest. Twenty years ago its habitat had been completely demolished for farmland.

The hope, perhaps naive, that a species on a vulnerable knife-edge had the resiliency to recover removed certain anxieties manifested by my subconscious guilt. These feelings of assurance temporarily subsided when my skeptical mind began to question previous judgments of that day. What if I was mistaken?

Mario adamantly rejected an offer to hold this beautiful species as it crawled over my skin much to his fascinated horror.

My overconfidence was anchored in a 7 year old memory of visiting a poison dart frog captivity where the tour guide assured us we were perfectly safe to handle these critters. Further research revealed that one should avoid handling wild poison arrow frogs for the handler’s safety and the frog’s health. Most of these frogs are dependent upon their diet of certain ants and beetles to produce their toxins and in captivity they can no longer produce this poison.

poison_dart_frog_green_and_blackI let my guard down by not properly protecting myself in the jungle, allowing myself to be cut and scrapped up, and then dangerously allowing these poisonous frogs to crawl over my damaged skin. The infrequency of an event can lower ones guard and make you complacent. One should be vigilant in preparing for the unexpected, or perhaps having some common sense and listening to your native born laborer.

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