Anecdotes

On Australia’s Dangerous Animals

When I was preparing for my first ever visit to Australia, everybody told me the same thing: that I should watch out for all of Australia’s deadly creatures.

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Crocodile show

It’s no secret that Australia has somewhat of a reputation for being home to the world’s most deadly creatures, and for good reason. There’s the box jellyfish, the irukandji jellyfish, the bull shark, the eastern brown snake, the saltwater crocodile, the Sydney funnel web spider, the blue-ringed octopus, the coastal taipan, the death adder (a snake), the cone snail, and many more. Any one of those creatures I just listed could inflict severe pain and injury on their victim, and in many cases, death.

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This spider was at the Chinese gardens in Sydney

I was told that I should watch out for the snakes, and the spiders, and the jellyfish, and the crocodiles, and who knows what else? In fact, when it comes to encounters with animals in Australia, it would probably be best just not to encounter them at all. A few people even told me they would consider NOT traveling to Australia due to their intense fear of animals that will kill a person.

I will admit that when I arrived on the continent it was something that was always in the back of my mind. I checked under toilet seats before using them in case a spider was hiding there. I didn’t wander too far into the bush because there might be snakes, and I certainly didn’t go too close to this water:

 

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Swimming is not advised

Once, when we took our rental car to a grocery store and parked in the parking garage underneath, I found myself running in fear up the staircase because there were a lot of

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Don’t go swimming

spider webs, and I wasn’t sure if the spiders they belonged to might be of the deadly variety. I didn’t want to take my chances.

They even have deadly plants in Australia. I was walking along the boardwalk in the Daintree National Park when I read a sign instructing me not to brush up against any plants that looked a certain way. It had a picture of the plant. That was because these particular plants were stinging trees, some of the world’s most venomous plants. Plants! Even an accidental touch of this plant could cause months of excruciating pain for unsuspecting humans. Needless to say, I avoided those plants like the black plague.

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I also noticed that there are a lot of spiders in Australia that are abnormally huge. I found myself gaping at giant webs with some of the largest spiders I had ever seen just lounging there. The elderly Australian lady who told me, “oh, don’t worry about those, they’re harmless. It’s the spiders you CAN’T see that are the dangerous ones” certainly didn’t help matters.

Even so, I sought out opportunities to see some of these animals in person. I found myself

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Meet Bruce the Crocodile

attending shows where reptile handlers handled some of the world’s most venomous snakes and got up close and personal with giant saltwater crocodiles. I even held a few (small) crocodiles while I was there and pole-fed a giant one with a handler’s supervision.

Out in the ocean, I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. When you snorkel the reef, they make you wear a full-body lycra suit to protect you from the stings of deadly jellyfish. Even with the suit, it was always in the back of my mind that the jellyfish might accidentally brush against that one square inch of skin that was exposed, but it never did and I had a wonderful time exploring the reef.

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Thankfully, this snake was actually behind glass

The thing about Australia is yes, they have deadly creatures. They have deadly plants, too. But it’s really not all that hard to avoid these things. The best rule of thumb when you’re visiting Australia is to use caution and common sense whenever you encounter something you’re not sure about. This kind of advice should be followed anywhere in the world, really. The thing about the deadly creatures, as the Australians were all very keen to let me know, was that they don’t come looking for you. It’s only when you wander into their

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My husband holding a (non-venomous) python

environment and mess with them that you have a problem. Most of the people who are bitten by snakes or attacked by crocodiles are locals who have grown complacent about the dangers and tromp through the bush, or dive into some murky water that they know full well could hold danger.

Tourists are generally more cautious of these things since we’re all warned to high heaven about the dangers, so it’s extremely rare that a tourist should ever find themselves in trouble. Not only that, but the anti-venoms have gotten so good and Australian doctors have become so good at treating these cases, that

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Jellyfish suits

even in the rare cases of attack, deaths are rare these days as long as proper treatment is administered.

I should also add that Tropical North Queensland is where all the deadly creature (tourist) sightings happened. When I was in Sydney, there wasn’t a deadly creature in sight as it’s just a modern city so there aren’t really snakes and crocs roaming around.

Don’t let a fear of Australia’s deadly creatures keep you away. It’s an absolutely stunning continent with incredible biodiversity, spectacular sights, cosmopolitan cities, amazing food, and friendly people. You’ll love it.

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