Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

bugs and bities in Australia

Well, I've finally read up to the current instalment (pages 209 to 212) of Naylor's Canberra and must say, I think it's a bloody good read so far. I've been enjoying it. Now I just have to wait with bated breath for the next instalment so I know how the current dramas are resolved.

And in the context of sites I've been reading lately, The Ultimate Olympian could be an amusing site if it's kept updated.

Something else I read recently was the Toxic Custard Guide to Australia - oh my lord - I nearly wet myself laughing at some of the entries. Actually, it was mostly the questions (sorry Daniel) - some people overseas really do have a very strange idea about what Australia is like.

Which actually brings me to a topic that I've been meaning to get onto here for a while. When I was in Europe, most of the natives seemed to think that Australia was this incredibly dangerous place where the wildlife would bite or sting you as soon as you landed at the airport and you would die a horrible death. Now, admittedly, we do have more than our fair share of deadly spiders and snakes, but honestly, how often do you think we see them?


I happen to be deathly scared of spiders - I can't even look at photos of them without shuddering - and the big ones, like Huntsman's (thanks to Toxic Custard for the link) just scare the bejebers out of me. I know they're harmless to people, it's just the way they look (and their size, and their hairiness). But there are really only two breeds that you have to be concerned about (as far as I am aware) -

- Redback Spiders - they often live in suburban yards that are overgrown or have bushy plants. They live in underneath the growth and you have to wear gloves when gardening to make sure you don't get bitten. They'll also sometimes come into a garage, but I've never seen one in a house.

- Funnel-web spiders - tend to live under rocks and logs and you need to be careful when picking something up in the bush that there isn't something underneath it. You also need to be careful when putting on a pair of shoes that has been left outside.

We used to have redbacks living in our garden when we lived in Eight Mile Plains (though it didn't stop me wandering around outside shoeless, I did wear gloves when gardening), and I once saw one in my neighbours garage when I was a kid. That's the full extent of my contact with them. As for funnel-webs, I've never actually seen one, I've only seen their webs after they've vacated.


As for snakes, well I'm mind-numbingly scared of them as well. And yep, once again, that includes the harmless ones. It's partially their scaly sliminess, but mostly their eyes (I'm not overly keen on lizards either, but I do like frogs). I've only ever really seen one (on our porch when I was a kid - it was the same place as where we had the neighbour with the redback in their garage - it was a recently developed area with a lot of bushland around it, which would account for snake and spider-life), though I've occasionally heard them when I've been bushwalking.

Again, there are only two that I've been told to watch out for as being particularly nasty:-

- the King Brown Snake (I think this link is the same snake, though it's a different name)

- the Red-Bellied Black Snake

Again, both of these are not generally found anywhere which remotely resembles civilisation. Snakes generally don't like people much and will make some effort to get out of your way. When bushwalking, make sure you make lots of noise as you go and you probably won't even hear one, let alone see one.

Other dangerous animals

Now crocodiles - I've never been to the Northern Territory, so I've never seen one outside of a zoo. No great desire to either (see a crocodile that is, not go to NT - there are other things in NT that I would like to see). Basically, if the sign says there's crocodiles in the waterhole, don't swim there. Oh, and don't smile at them! ;o)

Sharks - I've been swimming, surfing and generally mucking around in the ocean since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I've only ever seen one shark - that was when I was surf-lifesaving as a teenager and it was about as long as my fingertips to my elbow and not particularly scary. The big ones tend to stay way out and you are never likely to encounter one in the ocean. I've heard that you have a smaller probability of being attacked by a shark in Australia as you do of being hit by a meteorite. That is, very small. It's not something we tend to worry about. You should be more concerned about rips and under-currents and making sure you can swim before you go out into waves beyond your waist. And swimming at a patrolled beach if you're not an experienced surf swimmer. There is a big difference between being able to swim in a pool or lake to being able to swim in the surf. We get a hell of a lot more tourists drowning that being attacked by ANY form of dangerous wildlife.

For more info on crocs, sharks and the like, go here.

Common Insects

The main things to look out for here are mozzies, ants, flies and cockroaches. The first two will generally just give you an itchy bite to scratch (and some flies do too, like March Flies) and the later two are generally just annoying and you don't want them around your food. All can usually be discouraged by a decent personal insect repellant or surface spray.

There is a good factsheet about insect bites and stings here (though head lice and bed bugs tend to be a problem of budget accomodation all over the world and contact with kids more than with Australian wildlife in general and I don't know anyone who's been stung by a wasp unless they've teased a nest).

So unless you're nuts like this guy, chances are you'll never be stung or bitten by anything that's remotely dangerous when visiting Australia.

Listening to: Tim Reid MP3s


Blogger Soupie said...

It's weird... I am pretty weirded out by spiders (in fact, I hate the sh*t out of them), but I generally like snakes and other creepy-crawlies.

1:45 pm  

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