Okay, here’s the
skinny: The reason Australia has so many cute, cuddly creatures like
koalas and kangaroos is that there are very few dangerous animals in
Australia to bother them. Remember, at one time, the whole world was
filled with marsupials like the kangaroo, but they all got eaten up by the
lions and tigers and bears. Fortunately, there are no lions, tigers,
or bears in Australia.
There are, however, some
critters that us humans could definitely do without, especially if we
decide to take a swim on one of Australia’s thousands of beaches.
The Sea Wasp
The Sea Wasp or the box
jellyfish is one of the most deadly stinging animals in the sea. The sea
wasp has a large transparent body shaped like a box or a bell, that can be
as large as a bucket, and can weigh as much as five pounds. A cluster of
16 long semi-transparent tentacles stream out from under the bell of the
box jellyfish. Millions of stinging capsules cover each of the tentacles.
The stinging capsules discharge lethal poison into the skin of any
creature that touches them. Children who have been stung by the sea
wasp have died within minutes of being stung.
The Portuguese Man-Of War is another stinging jellyfish, and
although it is much more widespread and common than the box jellyfish or
sea wasp, it is not as deadly as the sea wasp. The Portuguese man-o-war is
commonly called the blue-bottle in Australia. Actually, the
Portuguese man-o-war is not a single marine animal, but consists of a
large colony of smaller marine organisms. The blue-bottle gets its name
from the body, which really is a large, gas- filled float. The float has a
crest, that is used much as a sail to propel the colony across the water
when the wind blows. Although the sting from the Portuguese
man-o-war is not deadly to humans, a person who comes into contact with a
Portuguese man-o-war or blue-bottle will still experience a sharp severe
III. The Blue-Ringed Octopus
The Blue-Ringed Octopus is another one of the smaller, but more
deadly marine animals that inhabit the coastal waters around Australia.
The blue-ringed octopus is normally light in color, with dark brown bands
over its eight arms and body, with blue circles superimposed on these dark
brown bands. When the octopus is disturbed or taken out of the water, the
colors darken and the rings turn a brilliant electric-blue color, and it
is this color change that gives the animal its name. The blue-ringed
octopus secretes a very deadly poison, either by biting with its
parrot-like beak, or by squirting the poison into the water surrounding
it. The direct bite from the blue-ringed octopus is usually
painless, but the deadly effects of the poison will be noticed
immediately. The poison apparently interferes with the body's nervous
system. The victim will immediately experience numbness of the mouth and
tongue, blurring of vision, loss of touch, difficulty with speech and
swallowing, and paralysis of the legs and nausea. If the victim does not
receive medical treatment immediately, full paralysis may occur within
minutes, followed by unconsciousness and death due to heart failure and
lack of oxygen. There is no antivenom for the poison from a blue-ringed
octopus. It is usually necessary to perform continuous CPR on a victim
until the effects of the venom have subsided. This may take several hours,
but it may mean the difference between life or death for the victim.
IV. The Saltwater
The adult saltwater crocodile will eat anything that
comes too close to it. That includes fish, birds, and mammals of any size,
including humans, that venture near the water's edge.
Even though the crocodile
looks like it should be clumsy on land, the saltwater crocodile is
extremely fast, and it is, of course, an excellent swimmer and an expert
at camouflage. Crocodiles can actually outrun a horse over short
Many kinds of sharks live in the warm waters around Australia, like
the Whale shark, the Basking shark, the Oceanic White-Tip shark, Dusky
shark, Leopard shark and the Hammer shark.. However the largest and most
scary, the Great White, is also the most common shark in Australian
waters. The smallest shark is the Dwarf shark, and the largest is
the Whale shark. As dangerous as they can be, most sharks will not
attack humans unless bothered, and actually, sharks themselves don’t
have an easy time of it. Dolphins attack sharks in groups to protect their
young. The shark's biggest enemy is humans who attack sharks for food,
sports and to protect beaches. Sharks appear to be smooth, but up
close they have sharp points that are tough. A sharks' body is also
streamlined so they can move quickly and easily through the water.
Sharks eat other sharks, seals, fish, baby dolphins, birds and sometimes
humans…mostly because they mistake them for seals.
On dry land, the danger
is mostly from snakes and insects. And, as a matter of fact,
Australia claims to have more species of venomous snakes than any other
continent on earth, and a collection of spiders which are also among
the world's most poisonous. Ugh.
The Red Bellied
The Red Bellied Black Snake grows
to about three feet in length. Its upper surface is glossy black and its
underside is red. It is found near streams and lagoons of eastern
Australia. It hunts by day, feeding on frogs, small mammals and other
reptiles. Its venom is dangerous to man.
The Tiger snake
The Tiger snake is one of the deadliest snakes in the world, and can be
found in the Australian Southwest. The body and tail can be a greenish
brown, brown, olive dark brown or blackish brown with distinctive bands
that are greenish, grey-white or yellowish white. The Tiger snake
shelters in or under fallen rotten timber; under rocks, in deep dense
matted vegetation and in empty animal burrows. It feeds on frogs, lizards,
nestling birds and snall mammals.
The Taipan is the most venomous snake in Australia. Male and female are
both very aggressive if cornered, but for the most part, taipans steer
clear of humans. The taipan has the longest fangs of any Australian snake,
and can be up to a half-inch long.
Red-back Spiders are related to our Black
Widow Spider. They are brownish black with an obvious orange
to red stripe on the upper abdomen and an "hourglass" shaped
spot on the underside of the abdomen. Females have a body about the size
of a large pea and slender legs.
Red-back bites occur
frequently, but only the female bite is dangerous. They can cause serious
illness and have caused deaths. Because of their small jaws many bites are
ineffective. Common early symptoms are pain (which can become severe),
sweating (always including local sweating at bite site), muscular
weakness, nausea and vomiting. An antivenene is available. No deaths have
occurred since its introduction.
The Tree-dwelling Funnel-web Spider
The Tree-dwelling Funnel-web Spideris the most dangerous spider in
Australia, and among the most dangerous spiders in the world.They are
found from northern New South Wales to southern Queensland, usually in
heavily timbered areas which are rarely entered by man.
Interestingly, not all creatures are affected by the poison. For
example, a rabbit can be injected with a large quantity of Funnel-web
spider venom without ill effect. A small dose can be lethal to
humans. The male of this spider is five times more dangerous than