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5 Animals in Australia That Could Easily Kill You, Plus How to Avoid Them

Australia is known for its cute and unique wildlife, like koalas and kangaroos, but it is also home to some of the world’s most dangerous animals. From venomous snakes to aggressive spiders, animals in Australia pose challenges for both locals and visitors alike. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most dangerous creatures Down Under, as well as how to avoid them. 

1. Crocodiles

Image by Max Shen

The saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile in the world. Found in northern Australia as well as Queensland, western Australia, and the Northern Territory, these reptiles are known for their aggressive behavior. Salties, as the Aussies call them, live in both saltwater and freshwater, and they can grow up to 7 meters (23 feet) long. They are fast swimmers and can make huge leaps out of the water to attack their prey. For this reason, it is very important when in the northern part of Australia to always look for and obey warning signs that tell you not to get too close to the water or swim in crocodile-prone areas. Even if you can’t see any signs, always ask the locals about crocodiles. They’ll tell you which areas to avoid.

2. Sharks

great white shark
Image by Reinhard Dirscherl)

Sharks live in the waters off the east and west coasts of Australia. They range from small, timid reef sharks to the mighty great white shark. Sharks are more numerous in the summer months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t swim in the water during this time of year. Stay safe by swimming at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags, so lifeguards can always see you and alert you of any sharks. You may also wish to swim in shark-netted areas of the beach or in ocean pools for peace of mind. Also, avoid swimming in the ocean at sunrise and sunset, as this is when the chance of a shark attack is often higher. 

3. Spiders

There are a lot of spiders in Australia. Most of them aren’t deadly, but some of them have a fatal bite if not treated. There are two types of poisonous spiders to be particularly aware of in Australia: the Sydney funnel-web spider and the redback spider. As its name suggests, the Sydney funnel-web spider is found only in the Sydney area, particularly in the warmer, more humid months of January-March. This spider is known for its poisonous venom, but there is a life-saving anti-venom treatment. If bitten, you must seek medical attention promptly.

The redback spider is one of the most dangerous spiders in the world. It is related to the black widow spider and is found throughout the whole of Australia. It gets its name from the distinct red stripe or diamond on its back, and its bite can cause severe pain, muscle weakness, and even death. These spiders typically like dark places, so it’s a good idea to check under the toilet seat in remote areas, and shake your boots before putting them on.

4. Snakes

Inland taipan
Image by David Clode

Australia is home to many of the world’s most deadly venomous snakes. Luckily, these species aren’t often found near big cities, and they only bite if they feel threatened or if you happen to step on one. While some snake bites are lethal if left untreated, anti-venom can often be administered if you receive medical attention promptly enough.

Two of the most deadly snakes in Australia include the eastern brown snake and the inland taipan. The eastern brown snake is found mostly on the east coast of Australia. They are very fast snakes and can grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) long. The inland taipan is the most toxic snake in the world. The venom from one bite could kill 100 people. The chances of seeing one are extremely rare, as inland taipans are very shy and live in a remote habitat in central Australia.

If you see a snake, don’t approach it. Stay still until the snake leaves or, if possible, back away very slowly. It’s important to not be distracted on your phone whilst you are walking in Australia; so many people have stepped on snakes by mistake while they’re on their phones. If you do get bitten, call for medical assistance and then sit or lie down and keep your body still to prevent the poison from traveling around your body. Remove any tight clothing or jewelry before your body starts to swell.

5. Jellyfish 

Image by Brett Monroe Garner

Sharks aren’t the only animals to be aware of while swimming in Australia. In the waters around northern Australia, there are poisonous jellyfish, primarily the box jellyfish, which is the most venomous creature in the world. Its venom-filled tentacles can send a human into cardiac arrest and cause death. 

During jellyfish season in the Northern Territory and northern Queensland, there are signs at Australian beaches warning you not to go in the water. If you want to swim, look for the beaches that have a netted area that keeps the jellyfish out of the swimming area. Also consider wearing a stinger suit or wetsuit to protect yourself. If you do get stung, you’ll find a vinegar tap at some beaches, which you can pour over the sting to help ease the pain whilst you wait for medical assistance. 

While the risks are real when it comes to these Australian animals, it is important to learn about these creatures so we can co-exist with them. Always practice caution, respect any warning signs, and seek guidance when needed to help minimize potentially dangerous encounters with wildlife. 

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