A while back, some interns were talking over breakfast about a frog they had found in a third-story balcony bathroom. In the toilet, to be exact. They had extracted the poor thing before…well, you can imagine, and had passed it around while taking pictures. When I saw the pictures, I said, “Hm. That looks like a milk frog. They’re extremely poisonous. You washed your hands after handling it, right?”
The silence I got in response was worrying. Turns out, either they hadn’t upset the frog enough for it to secrete its toxin (which is pretty nasty), or they had in fact washed up before, say, touching their eyes and saved themselves a trip to the hospital.
But Toilet Frog made regular appearances throughout the week, returning to the third story even after being relocated. Interns’ responses varied from curiosity to excitement to a lot of screaming. And I’ve now seen more milk frogs, giant toads, masked Smilisca, and litter frogs around the buildings, especially since the rains have really picked up.
See, milk frogs and many other arboreal species breed in water-filled cavities high in trees, laying their eggs in a safe, hidden space. An open-air, third-floor balcony toilet is an ideal substitute. The frogs were simply playing off natural instincts. Through design, our living space had unwittingly become a part of the ecosystem.
There are plenty more obvious examples. Leave food out, you get ants. That one’s a gimme. But others are indirect. Leave a light on, and you’ll get swarms of beetles and moths, followed by hungry geckos. Leave small gaps or cracks in walls and soon you’ll have a hive of happy bees. Neglect cleaning, you get roaches, but those in turn bring scorpions.
And frogs are cool, but here they bring snakes. Like, a lot of snakes. I usually don’t complain, but this is getting crazy. Even by my standards. Usually, we get harmless Cat-eyed or Parrot Snakes that come to snack on the little treefrogs, but we also get my old friend from a few posts back: Terciopelo. The fer-de-lance. There have been several more encounters over the last month, including one someone found in a bathroom. Jesus, do these animals have some kind of a human fetish? At least this one was on the ground floor.
The frog-handling interns got lucky. So did the poor sap who found the snake. So did I, when I had to go catch it. Hell, so did the snake, who could’ve crawled into a less-friendly bathroom. But I’m adding a new chapter to my ever-growing safety tropical safety guide: the animals live here. We’re just visiting.
But a greater point is that we don’t live in a closed system. Boundaries are fluid, if they even exist. And at this point, we may be better off just shitting in the woods.