“We live in a country full of dangerous and deadly creatures and each day is a struggle just to survive all the perils lurking outside our front doors”. “Snakes and spiders are just waiting to attack you”. I think this is sometimes how the rest of the world sees our country.
Some of the dealiest creatures in the world can be found in Australia
Australia is well known for having some of the most venomous and deadliest snakes and spiders in the world. Not to mention deadly jelly fish, crocodiles and sharks in our waters. Going for a swim or a hike can be down-right life threatening. There are so many films and TV programs highlighting the dangers in our country, I’m surprised Australia has any tourism at all!!
I was born in Sweden, a country where there are very few things that can harm you. I mean, how often do you come face to face with a brown bear or a wolf? As kids, the only things that saw us running for our lives were wasps or the neighbour’s mad rooster (he really was dangerous – he once had my mother cornered in the out-door loo for several hours). The sea didn’t harbour anything more scary than the jellyfish that would come in late summer, their tentacles could sting, but they certainly didn’t kill you.
“You’ll never last!”
When Greg and I decided to move from Melbourne to Far North Queensland, I was constantly told I would hate it and never survive all the creepy crawlies and snakes that live in and around the rain forest. Friends and family alike thought we were bonkers; we (especially I) would never last. Well I hate to say it but, 25 years later on, we are still here.
Not only do we love it, we have learnt to live with all of nature’s creatures, big and small. Some might look scary but most the time they are harmless and as the saying goes “much more scared of us than we are of them”.
We are not alone
When we moved into our present house, it had sat vacant for well over two years. In the tropics things grow very fast and both flora and fauna take over in a very short time. I’m sure if you stood still for any length of time, you’ll be covered in vines, with critters having made a very comfortable home in the greenery.
We found we shared the house with two brown tree snakes who lived in our ceiling. The first time I heard their dragging, rasping sound, I was in the bath. Greg was away on a short business trip and being alone at home, I really freaked out. I spent the next couple of nights following the eerie sound as it moved from one end of the house to the other, telling myself not to be stupid. Whatever was up there couldn’t be that bad. Besides, our two dogs didn’t seem overly worried.
As soon as Greg walked in the door I insisted he investigate to see what kind of monster lived in our ceiling. Judging by the noise, it had to be big whatever it was. He soon found the offenders, two brown tree snakes. They had obviously made themselves at home during the past couple of years and after several unsuccessful attempts to catch them, we decided to simply just let them be.
Thelma & Louise
We got used to seeing one or the other of these snakes in the evenings when they came out to hunt and we grew quite fond of them, naming them Thelma and Louise. There were times when we found them inside the house, usually alerted by the dogs barking, but they always made their way out quite quickly.
Thelma eventually grew too big to fit into the small opening they used to get in and out of and she moved herself to the garage. Louise disappeared shortly after and for several years now, all’s been quiet in the ceiling.
We still see snakes around the house but we have discouraged any “new tenants” by blocking off any openings to the ceiling. And I have learnt that I don’t have to run, screaming, in the opposite direction every time I see a snake. Sure, there are some very dangerous ones but they are not going to chase me if I leave them alone – live and let live, that’s my motto.
Spiders – not my favourite
One thing I still have a slight problem with is spiders. I am no longer petrified by them, however I really like to admire them from a distance. But my god, we do have some beautiful ones in this part of the world.
For the past month or so we have watched an orb-spider weave its beautiful web and grow bigger with each day. I really wasn’t too keen on this one since the web was right outside our back patio doors and next to our outdoor sitting area. I had this horrible thought I would forget to watch out and walk right into the web, thereby ending up wearing the spider. The web was quite high up though so we let it be.
She grew very quickly (we know it was a female, males are tiny in comparison) and we named her “Colossus”. Every morning we would go out to see what poor creature she had caught in her substantial web, it was like a private biology lesson, our very own nature program. Most insects caught in her web didn’t stand a chance, very few escaped. She really was quite beautiful and I can understand the fascination some people have with these eight- legged creatures.
“They grow up so fast”
Colossus got as big as Greg’s hand and I slowly warmed to her presence. Visitors might have freaked out but we quite liked her. One morning however she was gone, all that remained was the web with a large hole in the middle. We presume some bird must have got her.
We have lots and lots of other spiders and critters around the house, but she became special. And strangely enough, we sort of missed her after she was gone. After all, she didn’t eat much.