Eight out of the ten deadliest creatures are found in Australia but forget the jellyfish, the sharks and the snakes, it’s spiders that most visitors to Australia fear. Around the world, in developed countries it’s thought that forty per cent of the population have a fear or dislike of spiders. Combine this with the fact that Australia has potentially 10,000 species of spiders and it’s a wonder anyone visits Australia at all!
Your first thought might be Black Widow spiders or tarantulas but Australia can do much better than that. Funnel Web Spiders, Redbacks, Mouse Spiders, Trapdoor Spiders and more, all serve to strike fear into the arachnophobe.
But is it really that bad?
Let’s look at some cold hard facts. The last person to die from a spider bite was over 30 years ago, despite the fact that you will almost certainly be within a metre of at least one of the country’s most dangerous spiders at some point during your stay. Hundreds of people are bitten each year but many of the spider bites, whilst painful and uncomfortable, pose no threat to the healthy human. The most dangerous spider; the Sydney
Funnel Web’s venom is quite something, attacking the nervous system and by some method as yet not understood by scientists, it can alter the function of body organs throwing the body into spasms and shock, causing breathing difficulties, racing heartbeat and confusion.
The good news is that there is a very effective anti-venom which is stocked by all hospitals, doctors surgeries, chemists and police stations and which, once injected, returns the victim to normal within minutes. All that’s required following the anti-venom injection is close observation for 24 hours and you’ll make a full recovery.
If you really don’t want to take the chance on meeting one of these spiders there are precautions you can take; don’t wander through vegetation in gardens or the countryside, avoid places like garages, sheds or anywhere else left undisturbed for any length of time; wear clothing that covers all of your body and if one does bite you, make sure you remember what it looks like so you get given the correct anti-venom.
Australia’s spiders are most active in the warmer summer months but in winter they are more likely to come indoors. Some hunt by day whilst others don’t like the heat and prey on other nocturnal creatures.
Whilst you may now be hurrying for the phone to cancel your trip consider these facts; the chances of being bitten by a venomous spider are about one in ten thousand, more people die from bee stings in Australia than spider bites and few spiders are aggressive, the chances are they’ll keep away from you unless you seem to be a threat.
A final thought
The favourite home of the mildly venomous Huntsman Spider is behind sun visors in cars. More people are injured through car accidents caused when drivers panic upon seeing one drop down in front of them than from their actual bite so when you collect your hire car in Australia
, just ask the kind man or lady to check the visors for you before you set off!
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