Saturday, April 22, 2006

Observations Regarding the Mating Rituals of Poison Dart Frogs

I was at the Baltimore Aquarium the other day when I should have been working. I was taking in the sights and smells of thousands of varieties of fish, frogs and aquatic life. But only one creature was going to satisfy my curiosity: the Poison Dart Frog.

As soon as I found the Poison Dart Frog display, I was in ecstasy. There's something so very amusing about a creature that, if eaten, gets the last laugh by poisoning the predator that consumed it. Of course, there are those bright colors on its froggy back that signal danger, but nature is nature and sometimes a motherfucker gets hungry.

I stared at the bright orange Poison Dart Frogs, which are about the size of a half dollar (tiny, in other words) for what felt like an eternity. And lo, I noticed something in the lower corner of the container: one of the male Poison Dart Frogs had mounted one of the female Poison Dart Frogs. Yes, it is true: there is only so much time in the cage and only so many leafy branches to crawl on. A Poison Dart Frog needs love, too.

The mounting did not last long, alas - the Poison Dart Frog was no stud, no superstar - but during the twenty-second bump and shuffle, I believe I exclaimed, much to the amusement of the twenty or so people huddled around the same display, "Holy shit, they're doing it!" My Traveling Companions squinted to see what I was getting at and also noticed the Frog Copulation. I had Spotted Something, like people on those nature shows ... and what I spotted was hot like burning asphalt.

Eventually, the Female Poison Dart Frog wriggled out of the male's grasp and moved onwards to paint her nails or wax her upper lip or something. I didn't stay around long enough to check. But for the Male Poison Dart Frog, it was twenty seconds of an attempt at pleasure. Afterwards, I can guarantee, over pints of Poison Dart Guinness, he relayed the story with exaggeration and gusto to his friends, about how he rode the ride for an easy two to three minutes, about how he was King for a moment, and about how he was going again the next day and the next day and the next day. And before he would know it, he would be drunk and throwing up in the alley next to the pub, because that pathetic bastard can't hold his liquor.

Nature is complicated.