I had a brush with creepy Australia at the age of eight, when I was breaking in my brand new wet suit in our neighbour’s pool.
I had been taught that you need to diligently scan the pool for spiders in the summertime, because often funnel webs will come out of their holes and sink to the bottom of the pool. After checking the pool before a swim, I sat on the side of the pool waiting to get in, when a huntsman ran across my chest. It had fallen from the tree hanging over the pool onto my back.
I screamed, fell into the pool, and it crawled on my face.
Australia is a dangerous place.
So, in preparation for some of the creepy-crawly challenges of summer, we caught up with Daniel Rumsey, head of Reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park, to talk through the do’s and don’ts of snakes and spiders.
Rule #1 – Leave the Spiders and Snakes Alone!
Believe it or not, spiders are scared of humans. Most of the time, if they bite, they do so to protect themselves—not because they are angry about life. With all the dangerous spiders in Australia, your best bet is to leave them alone.
When it comes to funnel webs, the males are four times more toxic than females, and have the potential to be deadly. Spiders and snakes are shy, however, and trying to avoid interactions with people.
Daniel mentions there are two types of snakes: one that will bite you, and one that won’t. Because snakes don’t come with signs pointing out if they are biters, it’s best to give them all a wide berth.
Rule #2 – If Bitten, Call ‘000’ and Apply First Aid
Your body will react very differently to an ant bite, compared to how it responds to a spider bite. Typical ant bites are a short, sharp pain whereas a spider bit will lead to longer inflammation, and you’ll start to feel worse with time, not better.
If you do get bitten, first aid is essential. Bandage the area like you would a sprained ankle and call 000. Let someone else know, and make sure help is on the way.
In the summer, it’s best to use some caution around the pool when it comes to our native critters. Always check the bottom of the pool for creepy crawlies (the living kind), and be sure to leave them alone. They are, according to our resident expert Dan, going to be more scared of you.
Stay safe and enjoy a bite-free summer!