Levelling-up the animals

Growing up in Australia has given me a healthy respect for dangerous wildlife. Sometimes it feels like every animal is trying to eat or poison you which is unsurprising given the country has more animals with deadly venom than anywhere else. I find it funny how the same animal in Scotland is relatively harmless. It’s like Australia has taken the same creature, given it weapons, and put it on steroids to produce a monster. Let’s consider three animals, all found in both places.

Scotland has ticks. The worst these can do is spread lyme disease which although not trivial and definitely a concerning disease, is nothing compared with the levelled-up Australian version. Australia has the paralysis tick which can cause paralysis in humans, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle goats, pigs, and horses. A single tick can kill a large dog or sheep and one species is capable of causing respiratory failure in humans. Ticks have killed 20 people in Australia, all before 1945.

When we were in Braemar, friends of our suggested swimming at the Linn of Dee. I asked whether there were any fish there and was told there are eels. My jaw dropped because my experience of eels in Australia is of huge, long slippery things that eat birds and bite. It turns out the eels in the Linn of Dee are small, harmless things that are critically endangered.

Toads have a very different connotation in the UK compared to Australia. In the UK they are a welcome addition to the garden because they eat slugs. They also feature as characters in children’s books: think Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows and Trevor the toad from Harry Potter. By contrast, Australia has a cane toad which can kill dogs. Their skin is toxic and if eaten by humans can kill them. Unlike eels and ticks, cane toads are not native to Australia and are considered a pest. Cane toads were introduced in 1935 to try to control a beetle that was decimating sugar cane crops. Unfortunately they have thrived in Australia and their population exploded while having virtually no impact on the cane beetle.

So there you are: ticks, eels, and toads. Three animals that have evolved very differently in different parts of the world.

9 thoughts on “Levelling-up the animals”

  1. I heard about scorpions in shoes in Australia when I was a child and decided never to go there. I still don’t think I will ever get to Australia but I can put it into context now.

    1. Scorpions are probably the one animal that’s not poisonous in Australia. I’ve never seen one so I don’t think they are common and there are no poisonous ones as far as I’m aware.

      1. My impression was that it would be extremely painful, and I am still cringing with the imagination of finding one attached to my bare foot, but this has dispelled my irrational fear further. It’s funny how our impressions from television and media differ so much from real life.

  2. There are times when I wish that I loved in a different country, but knowing that you aren’t going to be eaten by the wildlife is nice.

    That header image *shudder*

  3. Very interesting!
    I watched a show on Netflix several times, called “72 most dangerous animals in Australia”. It was like a warning show of where not to go on Holiday 🙈🤣
    But very fascinating to see how many animals are dangerous, and How they are actually dangerous (poison, toxic, biting, sting, eating you completely, etc 😳😅)

  4. […] have worried. These are native British ants and like all animals, the British version is much less menacing than anything in Australia where I grew up. Australian ants are like the British version on methamphetamines and testosterone. […]

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