4. Panic

When you sit down and consider it for a moment, the fact that Australia has managed to build up a population at all is a little unbelievable. This is a country that not only has a punishing climate, freak weather and no access by land, but more importantly an endless list of things that will try and kill you if you live here. If you’ll allow me to make you glad you aren’t in Australia;

You may or may not know that the world’s most venomous snake is the Inland Taipan, or just the ‘Fierce Snake’ to its friends. This little guy (or girl, or transgender snake – its free to make its own choices), has in the past been known to have enough venom in one bite to kill 100 humans; which frankly seems to be showing off. Anyway, its only found in Australia. So that’s the most poisonous snake in the world. Only here. And to cap it all off, the government has protected it by law; so you can’t kill it or take it out of its habitat. Good. Very good. Lethal snake. Encourage it. Thanks, Australian government. Incidentally, of the ‘Top 10 most venomous snakes’ as seen here, 5 are in Australia, including one cheerfully named little critter called a ‘Death Adder’. And the world’s most venomous sea snake.

Next! The world’s deadliest spider. Funnel-Webs; most commonly found in Sydney (Yay!) but also in 5 out of the 7 Australian states in different guises. The Funnel-Web has managed to win first place by a hair from the Redback, which also calls Australia home. Luckily, the other 7 on the list of 9 here, aren’t in Australia. Interestingly, what makes the Funnel-Web so dangerous is that when they see you, where most spiders would run away and only bite in defence, these cheery little creatures will charge at you like a crazed maniac. The good news is that Stu and Sue, who we are staying with, have lived here for 10 years and have only seen 2 funnel-webs in that time. One was in a bush at the bottom of a garden, the other in a roll of carpet that was brought in (and had been in Stu’s car for the drive home). In typical Australian fashion, as this carpet was unrolled, the builder doing the work saw the funnel-web charging him and promptly took off his shoe and flattened the thing with a well aimed smack. Remember this show of Aussie grit and bravery, because it will be important later on.

I think I’ve made my point, so to quickly summarise other things that can kill you here;

Sharks (though in their defence, if some bloke turned up in my house wearing nothing but his swimming shorts I wouldn’t be best pleased either)

Saltwater Crocodiles (which even Aussies take seriously because they are not only huge and aggressive, but also masters of disguise who can kill you before you have a chance to think ‘what’s that stick looking thing in the distance?’)

Paralysis Ticks (surprisingly, a Tick that causes Paralysis)

Cassowaries (Emu like creatures who will attack by kicking out two seriously clawed feet at your general area)

Stingrays, StoneFish, all manner of evil Jellyfish, Blue Ringed Octopus and to top it all off, Marble Cone Snails. Yes. Even the snails are poisonous.

 

I hope this hasn’t discouraged anyone. Its really sunny, if that helps.

Anyway, what got me thinking about all of this was an occurrence on Saturday night at circa 20 past midnight. Katie was in bed, asleep, while I was in the other room facetiming my family (and, due to the inquisitive nature of our cat, some close up shots of a feline arse). As I walked back to our room I closed the door and happened, for whatever reason to look behind it.

Now, this was twenty past midnight. Everyone was asleep, including my girlfriend in the bed not 2 feet away. And as the saying goes, you never wake a sleeping Katie. Behind the door was a spider which, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this, could have easily been a descendent of Aragog (for any Muggles thats the giant spider from the Forbidden Forest) who had spent the summer on steroids. It was bigger than me.

IMG_4850

Okay. So I may have exaggerated a little. The reason for the blurry photo incidentally, is the fact that I was NOT OKAY WITH THIS SITUATION.

First off, I am at this point too tired for this. Second, the thing is in a corner meaning its hard to get at. Third, I might have been exaggerating but the fact remains that putting a glass over this thing would have involved severing half of each of its 8 evil legs. It was hefty.

This then, was the reason that should you have happened to pass by our window at that time (and for the next 20 minutes while I decided on my move), you would have seen a sleeping 22 year old girl and a 21 year old boy in boxers, holding a sauce pan in one hand and an A4 file in the other. Those who have ever caught a spider at home with a glass and a piece of paper will understand where I was going with this.

Next, I devised a cunning plan which involved prodding the thing until it ran to a flat part of the wall, then getting the pan over it and sliding the folder to trap the spider. And thirty minutes later, after the sage advice from my father of “Flick it onto the floor and tw*t it!”, I worked up the courage to take on the spider.

Long story short, I got it in the pan, refused to take my hand off the A4 folder ontop of the pan incase the spider somehow leaped out in a miraculous feat of strength, woke up Katie and got her to open the door, threw it away outside like an absolute girl and finally got into bed, spending the rest of the night on high alert for a Funnel-Web to come and kill me in my sleep.

Yesterday, a spider ran into Ben’s room (he is 16) at which point he got some toilet roll and disposed of it with literally no fuss. Some say my actions show me to be a coward. Some, including my girlfriend, have used stronger words, especially when I woke her up in the middle of the night to help me be a man. I say, even though this spider was a completely harmless Huntsman and more frightened of me than I was of it (which is an achievement), in this country you can never be too careful.

Alex Odlin cannot confirm or deny rumours that he is the next Steve Irwin in the making. You can find other historic stories where he has done silly things at whatnottodoatuni.wordpress.com. No spiders were harmed in the making of this blog. The same cannot be said for the ego of the author.

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