Sunday, October 03, 2010

Damn vermin!!

The chill is starting to set in. The days are getting a tad shorter, the sun a little lesser, the rain more frequent and the ciders are not as appealing as a large glass of red. Yes, winter is rattling down the Northern Line (when it's running) to my little area of the world. But what do I care - I'm on the shores of Morocco, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for two months.

But anyway, on the way back to the London winter I'll spend some time in Seoul – basking in averages of -1 degree. Should have me in good stead for my UK return! A few people have asked why I wouldn’t just pop home to Aus for a few days. Admittedly these are English people who might not realise that it’s an 8 hour ‘pop’ home on the flight. And why would I want to go there now? Sure, there’s the lovely weather and the Ashes will be there, but hey I’m a frigging Ashes celebrity – just look at the Daily Mail for God’s sake.

And after a conversation between a group of us at work the other day, I didn't realise how safe the UK is!

About now back in Aus you start having those stories about some bloke ‘missing’ from a secluded beach in WA, a surfer looking down and finding his leg’s gone, a Japanese or German tourist being taken by a croc, and there’s definately a snake attack a day. And what of the UK, well, it’s not necessarily the Utopia I described, they have their dangers too – just look what was in the Daily Telegraph (second page, mind) last week:

Grey squirrel threat to Highlands

Concerns have been raised over the further spread of grey squirrels after sightings in the Cairngorms.

Look out.

But if it’s not the dreaded grey squirrel, the UK has an even deadlier snake – The Adder!

The Adder (Vipera berus) is Britain’s only poisonous snake but will very rarely attack. Their usual approach is to use its exceptional camouflage to avoid being spotted or to disappear into the bushes and undergrowth at speed if they feel the vibrations of a threat approaching. The venom is actually quite strong but the adder does not inject much at any one time so there is less risk than from other venomous snakes that will strike repeatedly or inject more in one go.

What a British snake it is too: ‘listen, if I have to have a go I will, but only just enough so that you’ve learnt your lesson, old boy!’ If this sucker bites you, you have a week to get to hospital. Yep, a week. You’d chance it wouldn’t you?

‘Want to go to the pub?’
‘Nah, have to go to the hospital. Got bitten by an adder.’
‘Last Wednesday....yeah bugger, should be fine’.

Australia’s deadliest snake is the Taipan. And you have 7 minutes.

Now, I really got in to this topic when I started writing it. And for those that know me well, you probably understand that after a simple discussion I decided to try to find out as much as I could about this! So in my research, I found that we actually have all ten of the world’s deadly spiders, and of the top ten most deadliest snakes of the world, Australia has six on the list. Did you know even our humble platypus produces one of the most excruciating venoms known – cheeky little fuckers.

During this discussion, a collegue pointed out something that I actually found even more amazing– Aussies simply actually name things as we see them.

Watch (with some descriptions from Tourism Australia):

The Box Jellyfish - The creature has a square body

Blue Ring Octopus - this octopus has distinctive blue rings

Stone Fish - The stonefish is well camouflaged in the ocean, as it is a brownish colour, and often resembles a rock.

Red Back Spider – this spider has a distinctive red streak across its back

Brown Snake – not even going to tell you why.

Tiger Snake – come on, take a guess?

Great White Shark – it’s big, it’s white, it’s a shark. Done.

My personal favourite is the ‘red belly black snake’. Simple: it’s black and has a red belly (and what does every Aussie kid get taught...never run over one on your BMX unless travelling really fast, and always check under the car).

Now some may say it’s because – as the common collegualism sets us – we’re laid back, slow to react and, well, may seem a little simple. But I contend,that if you know if one of these things gets you you’re too fucked to remember the name:

‘Can you remember what bit you?

‘It looked like a box’.

Nurse – Box Jelly Fish, get the antidote.

Either that, or you’re too scared when something’s chasing you:



Brown thing moving!!!!

On the other hand, if an adder bit me, I reckon I could take the Doctor out for a round of golf to thank him before he treated me.

Why on earth did I decide to write this blog on animals? Well, as I said earlier, it started with the story of the squirrels, moved on to a girl from work telling us that she wants to move to Aus, but doesn't like spiders, and then descended in to the home of intelligent banter on Friday night – the pub. Why? This topic of conversation: ‘do you think foxes are getting arrogant?

Beg yours? But unfortunately I actually understand this one –and yes, yes they are.

It used to be that when I woke up early enough and left my house you’d see a fox running around the streets, or through the lane ways or across the common. But nowadays they down right come up to your door, knock, and ask for a cup of sugar. They’re also getting bigger. As one of my flatmats put it ‘they look like a small goat’. So while they may rival the Adder for severity and danger, I still think they’re pretty tame.