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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.