|Ixodes Holocyclus / paralysis tick by Alan R Walker|
under CC BY- SA 3.0
2. Kangaroos are usually docile creatures. Both red and gray kangaroos are a staple of many wildlife parks and zoos, and they usually love a scratch behind the ears. However, all kangaroos tend to get antsy during mating season, especially the big-muscled males. When provoked, they can hold their victim tight with their arms and rip the soft belly skin open using the large claws on their toes. Even a female kangaroo is willing to attack anything that endangers her defenseless joey. Dogs have been known to have been held underwater and drowned in lakes or dams after chasing after a large kangaroo. So go ahead and give "Skippy" that ear scratch, but don't approach big males or mothers with young in the pouch.
3. The duck-billed platypus lives in quiet streams and billabongs. It's a strange-looking and shy, elusive creature -- which is just as well, as both sexes carry a sharp spur on their back legs. The male's spur contains a poison that won't kill a human, but nevertheless it causes excruciating and incapacitating pain and swelling at the puncture site. The platypus will likely keep out of sight if you wander nearby, but it's best to stay out of any billabong you come across, just to be sure.
4. Wombats are heavy, slow-moving marsupials that dig big burrows and come out at night to eat native grasses and roots. Though usually placid in nature, they have been known to claw and bite if cornered. They can even display a surprising turn of speed, and despite its heavy bulk, an enraged wombat could easily bowl a person over and cause significant injuries. The rule is: give all wombats a wide berth, and definitely don't put them in a corner.
|A cassowary Wiki Commons CC BY 2.0|
6. Butcher birds and the Australian magpie enjoy fearsome reputations during nesting season. To protect the young chicks in their nests, they swoop down from tall gum trees toward passing humans and strike with their sharp, hooked beaks. This often results in a bleeding cut to the head, or much worse, damage to vulnerable eyes. Wary locals take to wearing bike helmets with large cartoon eyes painted on the back as a way to deter the attacking birds. This works for a while, but these animals are no bird-brains. Both the butcher birds and magpies will soon cotton on to this ruse and attack you anyway.
7. Fruit bats, as their name suggests, don't drink blood. But these cute and fox-like mammals can carry rabies-like diseases called Lyssa virus or Hendra virus. Well-meaning people attending to an injured bat are at risk of being bitten or scratched and therefore contracting these dreaded conditions. Unexpected contact with infected bat urine or blood can also transfer the diseases. One unlucky person was even attacked by a deranged, sick bat that deliberately flew down from a nearby tree to viciously bite them! Three people have been recorded as contracting Lyssa virus and all three have since died. Stay safe; don't touch any injured bats and give all fruit trees a wide berth.
|Bull ant closeup By Matt Inman under CC BY-SA 3.0|
Australia is a vast and varied wonderland and a magnet for many an overseas traveler. When you next drop in for a visit, by all means avoid the usual suspects like sharks, crocodiles and red-back spiders. But don't forget to add creatures like kangaroos, bats and the platypus to your list of animals to avoid. Even the most ordinary of Australian suburban backyards can host huge meat-eating ants, infected fruit bats and swooping, sharp-beaked butcher birds. But don't let any of these critters put you off your holiday in Australia. Simply follow some basic safety tips and you should be fine.