Venomous Animals in Australia

Australia is home to some of the most venomous creatures in the world and while they may not be as iconic as the cute kangaroo or the cuddly koala, you are probably more likely to see a snake or a spider than you are a koala.  The good news is that the death rate following attacks from these animals is very low.  The bad news is that their bites and stings can be extremely painful.  Human victims are more often than not accidental victims and with a bit of knowledge, you can avoid being one.

Eighteen of the twenty most venomous snakes in the world can be found in Australia.  Altogether we have seventy species of venomous snake, although not all are a danger to humans (some are too small to induce a big enough bite.)  If you find a snake on your property, call a professional snake handler to catch it for you.  While your first instinct may be to kill it, their venom has important medical properties and a live snake is far more valuable than a dead one.

Sea snakes are also venomous, although the venom is usually inoffensive to humans.

The Australian Paralysis Tick is only one centimetre (or less than half an inch) in diameter but it can and has caused fatalities.  The tick requires constant meals of blood to reach maturity and will bury its mouth into the skin of mammals, usually along moist folds of the body such as behind the ears.  Only the female is venomous; she secretes poisonous saliva that can cause paralysis and death if left untreated.  The tick can be found along the east coast of Australia in areas with a lot of vegetation.  Household pets are just as vulnerable as humans.

The box jellyfish is one of the the most dangerous sea creature in the world, although it does not attack humans – casualties occur when a victim swims into its tentacles.  The toxin has three prongs which cause damage to the skin, damage to the blood and eventual paralysis of the heart and respiratory system.  Box jellyfish are found in waters along the northern coast of Australia (from Gladstone in Queensland through to Broome in Western Australia) between October and May.  During these times, beaches in affected areas are usually closed.  By comparison, the blue bottle jellyfish is relatively tame, although its sting can be painful.

The stonefish is the world’s most venomous fish and can be found in coral reefs.  It is covered with toxic spikes and has an uncanny ability to blend in with its surroundings, meaning that many victims don’t notice it until they have stepped on it.  Stonefish are also found on beaches, as they can survive out of the water for up to twenty-four hours.  To prevent a painful attack, always wear shoes when walking through coral.

The blue ringed octopus has enough venom to kill ten humans.  However, it only attacks when it is removed from the water so unless you are stupid enough to pick one up, you are safe from its bite.  This is a good rule to follow with all sea creatures.  Removing an animal from its home has conservation consequences as well as the threat of attack.

First Aid

In the instance of venomous bites and stings, it is first and foremost important that the victim remains motionless to prevent the flow of poison through the body.  Apply a bandage as tightly as possible and keep the affected area elevated.  For jellyfish stings, bathe the wound in vinegar.  Call 000 as soon as possible (before applying first aid) and be prepared to administer CPR.