Wildlife Encounters


Australia has something of a reputation for wildlife. It’s either cute and cuddly or it’ll kill ya. Sometimes both.

When I was living in the States people would sometimes ask me about all the deadly creatures we have down here and how you live with them. After telling them all sorts of lies about how tough we all are down here, I usually come out with the truth that as a suburban kid most of the deadly snakes and spiders I’ve come across are safely behind glass and taxidermied at the local museum. About the most dangerous thing I’ve come across is the spastic dance you do after walking through a spider web in the dark at 3am, pissed as a newt. You’re more likely to do serious damage to yourself than be poisoned by an arachnid.

However, recently I’ve run into a couple of the creatures of the backyard. The other day I heard some rustling under the spare bed in my room. I looked over my shoulder in the direction of the noise, but it stopped. A few minutes later there was a louder noise and as I got up to investigate (and bent over to get a closer look) a bloody great lizard jumped out. This thing would have been about as long and as thick as my forearm (I’m a skinny bloke). It was a blue tongue lizard and has been dubbed “Holy Shit!” It wasn’t very happy to see me and even less happy to be shoo’ed out the door with my shoe. I got a very good look at why it’s called what it is.

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The latest encounter was this evening as I turned on the light to visit the downstairs fridge for a beer. The light kinda flickers a bit as it turns on so you’re first few steps have that strobe effect. Just as the light came fully on I looked down at my feet and there was a rather large toad checking me out. Old Bufo marinus, or the cane toad, has a storied place in Queensland history, but no place underneath my house. I named this guy “Bloody Hell!” and escorted him out with the aid of a cricket bat. Some will argue that I should have killed it, but I just wasn’t in the mood (I hadn’t had my beer yet, remember).