David Attenborough, 94, has spent his life’s work surrounded by the best of what nature has to offer, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he once kept poison dart frogs as pets. For a man who got up close and personal with a family of mountain gorillas in the Rwandan rainforest, being within inches of another potentially dangerous animal in his latest series Life in Colour, is exactly where he’s meant to be.
And while the brightly coloured frogs may be 1.5 cms long, they are extremely toxic; the poison in their skin known to have caused swelling, nausea, and even paralysis if touched or eaten.
In a recent interview, Attenborough revealed he gets up close and personal with the little amphibians in the new BBC series, but he also once had a few in his home.
“It was perfectly OK; they were there within an inch or so of me,” he beamed, talking of the Costa Rica trip.
“They have glands in their skin that produce a poison, and they are used by the local [indigenous] people, who kill them and extract that poison to put in their blowpipe darts.”
READ MORE: Sir David Attenborough reflects on being inches away from deadly frog
But some people, he added, keep them as pets.
“I would, too, if I were able to find the time,” the filmographer grinned.
“I’ve had them in the past, a few years ago when the house had more animals in it than there are now!”
He noted that there are actually clubs for people who keep poison dart frogs, particularly in Holland, who send Attenborough photo updates every now and again of the unusual pet.
“You might say that, in the past, we’ve concentrated on an idealised world where the animals are plentiful and abundant and so on, but I don’t think you can accuse us of that these days,” he explained to Radio Times.
“In fact, the reverse is the case. I think a lot of people think we’re spending all our time saying, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, what a catastrophe faces us,’ which is perfectly true.
“But this series is about what it says it’s about, which is colour and yes, just being able to rejoice in it.”
Although the presenter appears alone on the screen he revealed he has a huge team in the background with him helping make the film and to ensure his safety.
Times have changed significantly since he ventured into the wilderness with nothing but his cameraman and equipment for company and as he gets older, he’s become one of the most influential activists we must protect at all costs.
But despite his age, he insisted this isn’t the last series he’s got planned.
“I’m doing plenty of ‘woe is me’ programmes at the moment!” he hinted to the publication.
With Boris Johnson’s latest coronavirus announcement somewhat lifting national morale with the government’s roadmap to UK recovery, Attenborough’s hints of more natural history shows really is the cherry on top of the cake.
David’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.
Life of Colour airs Sunday at 7pm on BBC One.