I have never truly been afraid for my life until this past week when I was attacked by some sort of savage poison dart frog outside my own home. It had sharp fangs and long claws, like some kind of saber-tooth poison dart frog.
Florida is home to some rather nasty critters, many of which are capable of killing a person.
We have black bears in the area, and we have to keep our garbage cans locked or inside. They have even been known to attack humans on rare occasions — the bears, not the garbage cans.
We have different species of venomous snakes, including coral snakes. A friend told me she once spotted a coral snake on her porch after a rainstorm.
We have gators in nearly every body of water. A lake just north of my city used to be the dumping site of gators retrieved from people's pools or yards, and it's estimated there are nearly 10,000 gators in it.
And I believe we have several different species of poison dart frogs, one of which attacked me last week.
|This is what my attacker probably looked like.
My wife and I had gone out for a nice evening drive and had just returned home. We were coming up the walkway and spotted a toad and a regular frog, which were the lookouts for the poison dart frog. They were just sitting there, bold as brass, without moving, like they knew something. I stepped over them, respectfully and safely, and unlocked my front door.
That's when I was attacked by something heavy and massive, at least two inches long, that leaped onto my head. I shouted and batted it away, and it fell to the floor and scrambled off into the landscaping.
My family has been saying that I screamed and flailed wildly as if my hair was on fire.
This is a gross exaggeration. Here's what actually happened.
First, yes, I did produce a sound I typically don't make, a guttural, high-pitched "ULL!"
It wasn't a hysterical screech made by someone who could no longer form words, it was a battle cry.
In Norse mythology, Ull is the son of Sif and stepson of Thor. He is the god of winter, hunting, and hand-to-hand combat. His name also means "glory."
So, when I screamed "Ull," it wasn't because I was so frightened that my brain had disconnected from my mouth. Rather, I was calling on the Norse god of hand-to-hand combat, much as my Viking ancestors had done 800 years ago.
Next, I snapped my head forward — strategically, mind you — and aimed several precise blows at my attacker before he could sink his fangs into my skull. My attacks were both random and rapid so as to catch the beast off-guard.
I dislodged my attacker, and he skittered into the landscaping, where his natural camouflage saved him.
Meanwhile, my wife and children laughed hysterically, presumably from emotional relief at my near-death experience, and not because of the screaming and flailing, which I have already said was not that.
There is a slim possibility that it was an anole, which are those tiny lizards that live in every tree and bush in Florida.
And you could argue that it's more likely that this was just an anole that fell off the porch ceiling, but my response was still appropriate. After all, anoles are descended from dinosaurs, and as we saw in the documentary, Jurassic Park, dinosaurs eat people.
I believe the anoles will one day realize they're just tiny dinosaurs and will rise up against humanity. In fact, this may have been the first of millions of tiny attacks, but my response caused them to rethink their plans, so you're welcome.
But to reiterate, the attack awakened a long-dormant battle cry of my Viking ancestors, not a high-pitched shriek, no matter what you may have heard.
I strode into the bathroom to strains of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," to clean up any blood and see if I would need stitches. Fortunately, there were only a couple of welts on my forehead where the poison dart frog had attempted to latch onto my skull.
My wife said, "You scratched your head with all your wild flailing," but she's prone to exaggeration. She meant to say "during your battle."
As I recovered from my close call, I searched my phone for antidotes for poison dart frogs (there are none), the likelihood of an attack in Central Florida (I'm the first), and whether they can disguise themselves as anoles (there are no confirmed cases yet).
Even though humans like to think we've tamed nature, we're still just intruders. So be prepared for nature to retaliate one day, not through a direct attack, but by leaping onto your head when you least expect it.
And don't be afraid to call on Ull to aid you in your battle. Just make sure there are no video cameras around.
Photo credit: Marcus61 (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0); Artistic touches added by Emma Deckers
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