1. How much toxin is carried by one tiny golden poison dart frog in the wild?
The golden poison dart frog is considered one of the most toxic animals on earth. A single frog measuring two inches (five centimeters) has enough poison in its skin to kill ten grown men. This powerful toxin is used by indigenous people to tip their blowgun darts when hunting, hence the species' name.
2. What’s the best cure for the rash caused by the sticky black sap of the
The black poisonwood tree is found throughout Central America and its sap is extremely irritating to human skin. Luckily, it has a natural antidote in the gumbo limbo tree which nearly always grows nearby. Just shave off a piece of gumbo limbo bark and wipe the moist fibrous inside against the affected area. Works like a charm!
All scorpions are venomous and can sting you. But not all scorpion venom is equally toxic to humans. Scorpions catch their prey through a combination of venom and pincer action. Small scorpions tend to have stronger venom because they rely more on their venom than their pincers. Big scorpions can use their large pincers to neutralize prey, so their venom is weaker. A good rule of thumb is to assess the size of a scorpion’s pincers in relation to its body.
Fun fact: the black emperor scorpion will glow under ultraviolet light.
Even in the dry season, water vines are an excellent source of safe and sweet tasting water. They are nature’s water fountains. Here’s how to quench your thirst in five easy steps: 1) find a water vine, 2) cut off vine as high up as you can, 3) cut off at bottom, 4) chop into handy lengths, 5) hold end over open mouth and enjoy.
(See the video.)
NB: The Yucatan peninsula has many sinkholes or cenotes, but the water in them may not be safe to drink.
The best method is relax and lie flat on your back. Your body will float to the surface of the quicksand. Once on the surface, use gentle swimming motions to move to safe ground. Thrashing about will only cause you to sink further. Do not wait for a helping hand, as it is almost impossible to pull someone out of quicksand given the strength of the suction.
Depending on the species, a tapir can spray pee up to a distance of 15 feet. It is one of their more potent means of self defense. (But don’t take our word for it - see the video from someone who was sprayed by a tapir at the zoo.)
Fun fact: the gumbo limbo is known by locals as “the tourist tree” because its bark is red and peeling.
3. Which scorpions are usually more dangerous?
4. What’s the easiest source of safe drinking water in the rainforest?
5. If you find yourself sinking in quicksand, what’s the best way to escape?
6. In an emergency, which of the following bugs are safe to eat?
7. What should you do if a tapir turns its back on you?
Many insects are edible and they provide an excellent and plentiful source of protein in the rainforest. While palm weevil grubs and grasshoppers are considered by some jungle dwellers to be delicacies, we prefer the taste of termites. Termite nests are very easy to find and the termites are easy to catch. Just be sure to chew them well - you don’t want them to crawl back up your throat!
8. What’s the best way to repel mosquitoes when camping in the jungle?
The smoke of a burning termite nest will naturally repel mosquitos and other biting insects. Old, abandoned termite nests are all over the rainforest. As they’re large and usually close to the ground, they’re easy to find. A chunk of termite nest about the size of a football will burn for four or five hours.
9. What should you do if a botfly egg hatches under your skin?
Spreading petroleum jelly over the area forces the botfly maggot to come to the surface of the skin to breathe. (Duct tape also works.) Once the maggot pokes its head out, grab it with tweezers and pull. (This is pretty much what your doctor will do if you seek professional assistance.) If you’re a laid-back kind of person, you can just wait a few weeks and the maggot will eventually pop out on its own. (See video of botfly extraction below - but BEWARE it is not for the squeamish.)
10. Which of these snakes is responsible for the most human deaths every
year in Central America?
Bothrops asper, more commonly known as the fer-de-lance, is a highly venomous pit viper that can be found from southern Mexico down to South America. An aggressive, irritable and fast moving snake, it likes to live near human habitations and is responsible for more snake bites and deaths than any other snake.