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How dangerous is Australia's wildlife?

Huntsman SpiderHuntsman Spider
Large and fearsome looking but harmless
For more than 80 million years Australia has existed as a separate continent and life has developed largely independent from what happened elsewhere on the planet. To put that into perspective, let me just say the dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. That explains why you can find animals here that have no relatives anywhere else on earth.

Due to its size and climate, large parts of this continent are only sparesly populated. Unlike in Europe where most species are extinct that could pose a threat to humans, in Australia such animals still exist.

Please don't get me wrong. Australia is not a dangerous place at all if you know what to do and not to do (and I will tell you about that below). The odds of being hurt or killed in a road accident are by magnitudes higher than the risk you face from all dangerous animals in this country combined. Nevertheless I will give you a list of dangerous animals and how to minimise the risk while living in or travelling Australia. But please compare the provided figures of known fatalities to those for other causes of death, of which I have listed a few in the last section to put things into proportion.

I also highly recommend to take a look at the recommendations for first aid and familiarise yourself with the procedures specific for venomous animals. Apart from that it cannot hurt to brush up on your general first aid knowledge - just book a course.

Before I take you into the details of how dangerous Australia's animals really are, let me put things a bit into the right perspective. Did you know that more than 1.2 million people are killed in road accidents worldwide in just one year - more than 1,200 of those in Australia?

What if I tell you that more than 14,700 people have been murdered in the United States (poopulation: 310 million) in the year 2010? The count for Australia (population: 22 million ) was 229 and for Germany (population 81 million) 690 in the same year.

You will probably argue that the risk depends on your neighbourhood and obviously your personal risk is much lower than the statistical average. That might be true or not, but what about this: More than 50 people are killed by lightning strike each year in the United States (average over the last 20 years). The worldwide annual fatalities from lightnight strikes are estimated to be in excess of 24,000.

Now compare these figures to the risk you face from dangerous animals in Australia. Taking together all the dangerous animals in Australia we have no more than 1-2 fatalities per year and most of these are related to people being careless and not acting as they should do. Compared to the risks of lightning strikes and road accidents, the risk from dangerous animals is hardly worth mentioning, wouldn't you agree?

Want to know more?Books and DVDs I can recommend

Dangerous Creatures of Australia

On almost 100 pages the author gives an introduction to the most dangerous creatures in Australia. Given the limited space this book can only provide a brief overview.

Spiders of Australia: An Introduction to Their Classification, Biology & Distribution

A comprehensive guide to Australian spiders, their identification and classification.

Spectacular Snakes of Australia

The book presents the snakes of Australia and unlike other books has a particular focus on the photographic presentation. Ideal for every friend of snakes and reptiles.

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