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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Never lie in the path of an oncoming train…

Monitor lizard in camouflage

I love walking in the bush and being out in nature. But one of my biggest fears when hiking through the Australian bush, is treading unexpectedly on something, or walking through something, or coming across something that is likely to misinterpret my intentions and take umbrage at my bush gait.

I know the experts all say that if you come across a snake, it will be more scared of you, than you are of it. But with due respect, how did the experts ever manage to quantify that in a scientific fashion?! I’m willing to concede, that both the snake and I might be EQUALLY freaked out with each other, though if I were to be totally honest, I would have to confess that actually, I KNOW I would probably be more freaked than the snake. I use the same model of scientific reasoning as the experts.

And whilst I can sort of understand that the bush is THEIR territory, it seems to me that it’s a bit like swimmers who are supposedly trespassing in shark territory by swimming in the ocean. But if a swimmer is swimming for enjoyment close to a beach and there are vast tracts of ocean left to shark around; or if a hiker is taking a trail with miles of bush beyond, then I hold it is sheer pigheadedness for any self respecting snake to lie around looking like a bit of foliage, waiting to give some poor hiker a good scare. I acknowledge, that it isn’t pleasant to have something many kilograms heavier than you, stomping on you or unexpectedly crashing through your home. But believe me, if I KNEW that something like a snake was under those leaves, I wouldn’t be going anywhere near it! My advice is - don’t lie on the path playing chicken, if you wanna remain a snake!

The thought of 8 of the 10 most venomous snakes in the world making their home in the Queensland, is not comforting. And so it was with a certain amount of trepidation, that I sent the lads out for a 5hr hike in the bush the other day. Rather than a flippant “See you later”, I thought I should impart some realism, and wished them a cheery “Do come back!”. Along the way, they had dealings with bloodsucking leeches (unfortunately, one of the leeches tried to suck the blood out of K’s shoe…not a wise choice. I believe it may have had an ‘aha’ moment before losing its grip….); some fascinating lace monitor lizards (which look like a cross between an ant eater and a dinosaur); a peregrine falcon and other interesting birdlife; AND a Red Bellied Black snake.

A highly venomous snake, the Red Bellied Black is often mistaken for the Small Eyed snake (which is equally as nasty, so don’t stress about making an accurate, on the spot identification. The way to tell, is that the RBB has a tan snout. However, you may wish to check this out on your photos after you get home.).It is highly recommended by the aforementioned experts, that one doesn’t make these snakes feel threatened. I am presuming that this includes not standing on them. And here is a case in point. 4 of the lads walked straight over the RBB snake on the path WITHOUT EVEN SEEING it…..the 5th person spotted it before he trod on it…which was fortunate for both snake and human, I suspect.

Thankfully, I leave you with a happy ending. The humans live. And so does the snake (at least when this went to print).

Red Bellied Black snake with full tummy

1 comment:

Ange of the North said...

I can't even begin to express my feelings... How does anyone survive to adulthood in such an inhospitable country? Maybe this accounts for the oddities of Oz.

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