Good To Know: 5 Aussie Animals That Can Kill You
As illustrated by Bill Bryson, Australia is a dangerous place. In his national best seller In a Sunburned Country, the famed memoirist spends the first several pages of the book listing all the different ways that the country and its natural inhabitants can kill you. And we’re not talking about some sort of crazed serial killer in the Outback (as exploited in the recent Wolf Creek horror movies franchise). We’re talking about things that occur…in nature…that can kill you with little effort.
So, with respect to Mr. Bryson himself, we profile a few of our personal favorites. Mind you, this isn’t to discourage you from visiting the Land Down Under. We just want to help you know what you may encounter when you go.
With venom that’s ranked as one of the most deadly in the world, the box jellyfish sting can instantly stun or kill its prey — and has been linked to several human deaths due to the paralysis, shock, and subsequent drowning or heart failure (or both) that can result. Survivors experience excruciating pain for weeks after the encounter, and boast serious scarring as evidence. Unlike other jellyfish, the Box can actually move — not just drift. Their tentacles (which can number up to 15) stretch 10 feet in length, and each one has 5,000 stinging cells. Aussie beaches, whose waters are populated by these seasonal creatures (typically off the northern part of the country), will have posted warning signs (often displaying a massive jellyfish entangling a tiny human figure), so pay heed.
Funnel Web Spider
If you get bitten by a funnel web spider, native to the region in and around Sydney, you might just suffer double vision, trouble swallowing, confusion, numbness, excessive sweating, diarrhea, nausea, and severe muscle spasms before you find treatment — if you’re lucky. The fast-acting venom is highly toxic, though no deaths have been attributed to this arachnid since the anti-venom was introduced in 1981. But that won’t stop us from looking in our shoe before heading out.
Yes, Australia has crocodiles. But did you know that a saltwater croc in the Northern Territories was recently witnessed devouring a bull shark? A bull shark! It’s likely something we’ll see in Sharknado IV: Sharks Down Under. This species, the largest of all reptiles, can reach up to 22 feet in length, and weighs as much as 4,400 pounds. These monsters mostly stick to the sea, but have been known to swim up freshwater rivers in search of prey. So the next time you suggest swimming out to that “floating log,” you best make sure it’s not swimming towards you.
Eastern Brown Snakes
The second-most-venomous snake in the world, the eastern brown snake ain’t always brown; sometimes it’s speckled, and can range in colors from pale orange to silver, yellow, grey, or brown. With an average adult length of up to six feet, it carries a potent neurotoxin in its venom. But thankfully, their typical defensive strike is a dry bite — meaning no venom is transferred. But, just to be safe, try to keep your limbs out of the mouths of snakes.
These large flightless birds probably the least dangerous of the animals on this list, but the Cassowary earns its place by being the most likely to populate a ’50s-style B horror movie (sorry saltwater crocs). These flightless birds are the heaviest of its species in Australia, and can grow up to six feet tall. Its three-toed feet have some seriously sharp claws, including the dagger-like middle one, which measures up to five inches in length. Velociraptor anyone? While they’re shy, they’ve been known to attack humans with powerful kicks when provoked. They can also run up to 31 miles per hour and jump almost five feet. And they can swim. So as you’re taking on the croc, just call for help from big bird.
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