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May 18 2011

Australian Wildlife


Australian Wildlife

Wildlife in Australia

The Koala and Kangaroo are the most commonly talked about of the native Australian wildlife, but Australia is full of many other animals and creatures, some dangerous, some not.

Snakes

There are about 120 species of snake in Queensland.

This link, from the Queensland Museum, is one of many with some information on them:

On checking for details on Deaths from Snakebites, I found this bit:

Q: Are there many deaths from snakebite in Queensland?

A: Most snakes attempt to avoid biting humans, but many will do so in defence if they are deliberately provoked or accidentally disturbed.

Even though snakebites happens regularly, (about 2000 per year), death from such an event is rare in Queensland and in the rest of Australia.

I found this quote “The most recent published survey of deaths from snakebite in Australia found a slightly higher death rate of around 3.2 deaths per year” at University of Melbourne

and this one “Each year in Australia approximately 2,000 people are bitten. Of these 200 require antivenom treatment and one bite proves fatal.” from Snakes Harmful and Harmless

For a referral to a local snake collector contact the service listed for your state:

  • NSW: Wildlife and Information Rescue Service (WIRES), phone: (02) 8977 3333.
  • VIC: The Wildlife Care Network, phone: 0500 540 000
  • SA: Fauna Rescue, phone: 08 8289 0896, or Adelaide Snake Catchers, phone: 0413 665 483
  • QLD: QLD Parks and Wildlife Service, phone: (07) 3202 0220
  • WA: Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Wildlife Protection, phone: (08) 9334 0292 (BH), (08) 9334 0333 (AH)
  • NT: Darwin and Darwin Rural Snake Callout, phone: 0407 610 039
  • TAS: Department of Primary Industry, Water and Environment, Nature Conservation Branch, phone: (03) 6233 6556
  • ACT: ACT Parks and Conservation – Southside, phone: (02) 6207 2127; Northside, phone: (02) 6207 2113

Contact Numbers courtesy of: http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/1999/archives/25?p=2000

Snakes often die when relocated but if you do want the snake removed for its own safety, contact Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) on 1300 130 372 (24 hours) or your local QPWS office to find out how to contact a local snake handler. Alternatively, contact the Queensland Reptile and Amphibian Club on 07 3200 0266 for advice and information.

Spiders

A useful page from the Australian Museum Online, about Spiders.

What I consider an IMPORTANT point is this section:

Q: How many dangerous spider bites occur in Australia each year?

A: Approximately 2000 people are bitten each year by Redback Spiders

Q: Has anyone died from a bite recently?

A: There have been no deaths in Australia from a confirmed spider bite since 1979.
An effective antivenom for Redback Spiders was introduced in 1956, and one for funnel-web spiders in 1980.
These are the only two spiders that have caused deaths in Australia in the past.

A spider bite is not a notifiable medical emergency, so there are no Australia-wide statistics, but the following figures give an idea of the incidence of reported bites in recent years.

Funnel-web spider anti-venom has been given to at least 100 patients since 1980.

Anti-venom is given only when signs of serious envenomation are observed. Many spider bites are ‘blank’, which means that no venom has been injected.

During 2000 the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre received 4,200 calls about spiders. However not all of these would have involved actual bites. Many reported bites are not able to be identified as definitely being from a spider, and it is nearly impossible to work out what species has caused a bite without seeing a specimen of the spider responsible.

Spider Bites

First aid treatment for spider bites is different for different spiders.

  • Funnel web spiders (Eastern Australia), are the most dangerous of all the world’s spiders.
  • Red back spider bites are common, but rarely cause death.
  • Huntsman spiders come into houses especially in summer. They are usually timid, but bites cause pain around the bite and occasionally headache and vomiting.

A useful source of info at: Spider Bites

Spiders and their relatives

Scorpions

Australian scorpions can give a painful sting but are not considered dangerous.

Scorpions are mostly nocturnal but they can be active during the day, especially during prolonged wet weather. There are 29 species of Scorpion in Australia.

First aid for a sting is to apply a cold pack and to seek medical aid if pain persists.
It is also a good idea to try to catch the scorpion and have it identified.
www.austmus.gov.au/factsheets/scorpions.htm

The scorpion usually seen in houses is the Small Marbled Scorpion.
museumvictoria.com.au/DiscoveryCentre/Infosheets/Little-Marbled-Scorpion
It is widespread in southern Australia, and is one of the three known species of scorpions found in the greater Melbourne region.
The sting of the Little Marbled Scorpion can cause inflammation and pain for several hours, and medical advice should be sought.

Pain?

Fortunately, Australian scorpions aren’t as poisonous as those in other countries. A sting might hurt for a few hours. The victim might need some treatment for pain but there should be no long lasting effects.

Scorpions are good for pest control in the garden, so if you do get one in the house, put it back in the garden, if you can, rather than killing it.

There are over 1500 species of scorpion (world-wide) but only 25 can kill people.

Birds

Here is a link to a page with various photos and names of Birds in Australia: www.solanum.net

The Christmas Beetle

The Christmas beetle, as you may guess, seems to make its appearance about Christmas time. I would not call it a pest, as they seem to just turn up, fall on their backs, and stay there. They may fly into you, or a window or a wall. They don’t seem very clever in that respect.

A quote from www.wettropics.gov.au

Christmas beetles also buzz loudly in flight.
There are many types, a fact which sometimes leads to arguments between people with a fixed idea of their appearance.
As larvae, these beetles feed on grass roots but as adults they can seriously defoliate trees, particularly eucalypts, during summer.
The aptly-named golden scarab, found in the Wet Tropics, is a Christmas beetle






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