Whilst overseas, I’ve had lots of people say to me that they genuinely don’t want to come to Australia because they are scared of the animals we have here. This blog post hopes to show you the reality of sharing this country with the creatures that live here and that it isn’t all snakes and spiders. There is also some advice to help you if you happen to get into an emergency situation here.
Kangaroos live in rural bushland areas and the outback. You can also see kangaroos on the beach at Lucky Bay in Esperance. They can range in size from waist high to taller than humans. If you are visiting one of the big cities in Australia, the most likely place you will see a kangaroo is at a zoo or wildlife park. You have to go a bit out of the city in order to see a kangaroo. Kangaroos aren’t dangerous to be near in person and they will normally jump away from you if you get too close. If you are planning a roadtrip around Australia though, it is good to know that you should either not drive after dark, or drive much slower as kangaroos jump infront of cars and they can do a lot of damage.
These birds are funny looking creatures that also live in rural bushland or the outback. I’ve never seen one ‘in the wild’ up close so I’m not sure how they react but in general, a good Aussie wildlife guide is not to approach the animal. Fun Fact: emus can run up to 48km/h.
The adorable Australian ‘bear’ lives high up in Eucalyptus trees on the south eastern and eastern coasts of Australia. I have never actually seen a koala in the wild before and sadly, due to the bushfires that raged the east coast in early 2020, the population has decreased dramatically. If you want to see a koala whilst in Australia your best bet is to head to a wildlife park.
The coasts and rivers of Australia are home to lots of dolphins. These are animals that you are actually likely to see if you come to Australia and hang around the coast. Even in the big cities. Dolphins are really intelligent and are not harmful to humans. It is really incredible to see them when you are swimming. You don’t need to be afraid if they come close to you. If you see a fin whilst swimming and it is going up and then disappearing underwater, chances are it is a dolphin.
These happy looking animals live on Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia. Due to the amount of visitors on the island, they have become very used to humans and you can get really close to them. Make sure not to touch or feed them though.
Scarier Aussie Icons
I have lived in and around the ocean my whole life and (touch wood), I have only ever seen two (small) sharks before. Sharks are a possibility if you come to Australia but you don’t need to be worried. Helicopters specifically tasked to identify sharks roam up and down the coast lines almost every day. If a shark is sighted, the nearby beaches are cleared. In general, if you swim between the red and yellow flags and stay relatively close to shore, you can enjoy the crystal clear water without a worry.
Spiders are everywhere in the world. Unfortunately we do have some spiders in Australia that can be dangerous but you aren’t likely to encounter them on your holiday here. Like all Australian animals and insects, they’re best left alone. If you see one outside and are able to walk around it, leave it. If you come across a spider in your accomodation, get one of your thongs (the Aussies way of saying flip flops, get used to it), squish it and flush it down the toilet or put it in the bush outside. Most of our spiders aren’t a problem for people and actually they can be really good to have around because they eat all of the other insects like flies and mosquitoes. If you have been bitten by something, it was most likely a mosquito which can feel a little hot and itchy on your skin. If you were bitten by something and you aren’t sure what it was and you are feeling dizzy, hot or sick call 000 and they will advise you on the best course of action. All in all though, I can’t really remember the last time I saw a spider so you don’t need to worry about them on your holiday here.
I just want to start by saying that I don’t like snakes. Not all Australians are crazy animal handlers. When you live in the cities, you don’t often have to think about snakes as there are not many around. They are as scared of us as we are of them. In my whole life living in Australia (hiking and visiting remote places) I have only seen three snakes. If you’re holidaying in the Australian cities, you probably don’t need to worry about snakes. If you are thinking of going further from the cities, to rural towns, hiking or to Rottnest island, it might be good to know a few things.
- Avoid walking through bush. If you are going hiking, stick to the path where the floor is cleared and you can see where you are walking.
- Go with a mate.
- If you see a snake, move away from it. Snakes only bite if they feel threatened.
- If a snake bite occurs, stay calm. Call an ambulance (000). Keep the person as still as possible. Do not wash the area as any venom left on the skin can help to identify the snake. Do NOT apply a tourniquet, cut the wound or attempt to suck the venom out.
- Snake venom does not go straight into your blood stream, it moves around the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system moves with muscular contraction so the more still the person can be, the less chance there is of the venom spreading.
- Australian hospitals have a range of tests they can do which identify the snake so you should NOT try to find or catch the snake.
Though we may have some dangerous creatures, you should not let it stop you from exploring this beautiful country. If you have an issue at the beach, you can talk to the lifeguards on duty. If there is no one around and you are in an emergency situation, call 000 and the emergency services will help you with the best course of action.