Thursday, January 04, 2007

Backyard Beasts

No, not the teenagers and young adults who come over with my son and drink my beer and raid my fridge - and worse! But some of the animals we live with in Sydney. And specifically those that we have in our backyards here. Some are ornery and keep you on your toes. Others can scare the daylights out of you if they take you by surprise. All are entertaining. A quick list in anticipation for a short series of blogs on these. The Funnel Web is up there - a potentially lethal spider and the one that keeps me most alert when I am in the yard. Whitetail. Nasty bit of gear. Spider as well. Redback spider. Part of a family of spiders common across the world. A friend who is wheelchair bound was bitten on the butt by one of these few weeks ago - it was on the toilet seat! True story! Really. Water dragon - a large lizard that loves living around the pool. They are fast runners and if you startle them they can get up a gallop very quickly. From 0-100 in 3 seconds (well, it seems like it) and can scare the daylights out of you. But harmless. Blue Tongue Lizard. A stocky lizard with, well, a blue tongue.They can tame up quite well and come inside looking for food. As does the magpie, a talkative bird. Sulpher crested cockatoos. Rainbow lorikeets. Honey eaters. Skinks. Pythons. And so on.

Let's get going with the Sydney Funnel Web. According to the US Military Field Guide on invertebrates around the world that are nasty and can ruin your day (it is a fat guide) the Sydney funnel web is arguably the most toxic of any spider. Period. Until an antivenom was cooked up bites from these ugly things were often fatal. Trouble is at certain times of the year they want to wander inside, especially if there has been heavy rain. Or if the converse is true and they are looking for moisture. They fall into the pool and can survive for days on the air that is trapped in a bubble around their body so the pool has to be carefully checked before you get in. And that chlorine had better be working since you don't want to to get into murky water only to discover one of these having a swim along the bottom.

I was sitting at my desk at the home PC one afternoon and movement across the carpet caught my eye. It was one of these things making its way to my desk. He ended up dehydrating in a specimen jar - must have been looking for water since he keeled over quite quickly. Checking shoes each morning, if I have left them at the door, is a sensible precaution.


Anonymous said...

My weapon of choice is the humble thong, and I don't mean the type you ware to cover your loins. A pair of thongs don't provide much shelter for the funnel web and doubles as; a handling device to help catching the specimen, keeping your hands depending on your foot size away from the spiders mouth; or at last resort used as a defensive weapon against anything that scarces you.


Morgen said...

Thanks for your submission to Bestest Blog's Animal Carnival!

The Carnival will be all day Saturday January 13th at
It's A Blog Eat Blog World

If you have a chance, can you post about the carnival either Friday evening or on Saturday, and include a link?

Animal Carnival Ringmaster

zorak163 said...

That second picture is amazing... thanks for posting it!

Belle said...

Common sense precautions, if you ask me. I love to watch wildlife and all, but don't care to tussle with venomous, deadly things. I thought that second picture was a spider devouring a scorpion at first!

Tisha said...

Those pictures made my skin crawl. Eeeeeck! I hate spiders. :p

Another Desert Rat said...

Fantastic. I actually quite enjoy spiders and encourage them to take up residence to help rid my home of other more annoying creatures. (I also secretly think the webs are helping to hold the house together.)

Enjoy the Carnival!

Desert Songbird said...

Here in Arizona, it's a good idea to check shoes before putting them on...for scorpions - ick!

Here via the Carnival.

Bond said...

Hi...I am walking down the midway at THE BESTEST BLOG CARNIVAL and enjoyed your attraction...
But spiders like that... nah not for me..

Starrlight said...

OMG, I got the creeps just looking at that!