Friday, November 1, 2013

Welcome to the country! (It may kill you)

So, in some crazy exciting news, my pseudonym's co-writer is coming to visit. She's usually in the US, but is currently holidaying in NZ, and managed to get some cheap flights over here. And I'm taking her to see some of these: 

Salt Water Crocodile
Crocodile: source

And she already knows about these: 

Because that's what we do here. We sometimes feel we don't have enough legitimately deadly creatures on the continent, so we make some up. When really, we're spoiled for choice. 

In addition to the snappy chap you saw above, in my local area we also have the taipan, one of the world's most venomous snakes. Rattlesnakes? Pfft. A taipan won't even give you that much warning. Also, it doesn't just strike once. No, it gets its teeth in and delivers several bites at once. Seriously, you are chewing gum to this snake. But the venom is probably worse than the indignity. I mean, indignity can't kill you. 

The taipan: source
What I particularly like (read "fear") about the taipan is that when it's little, it looks almost exactly like a young non-venomous tree snake. Just on the off chance it could lull you into a false sense of security, I suppose. 

I also don't like tree snakes, even though I recognise that my fear of them is irrational, given that I'm not a frog and they therefore pose no threat to me. 

But when my mother had one living in her letter box, I refused to collect her mail for her. It used to stick its head out when the postman was trying to shove letters in. A very stoic man, my mum's postman. But once the snake ate all the frogs, it moved on. 

Let me tell you a story about a snake. 

Okay, make that two stories. 

Once, when the rest of the family was overseas or somewhere, I found a massive snake in my mum's backyard when I was over watering the plants. (Yes, Mum, sometimes I remember to do that. God, stop getting on my case. They'll grow back!) Anyway, it was a python. Maybe about six feet long. It was dead. I knew it was dead, because it had no head. I mean, I'm no doctor, but... 

How it lost its head or where that head went, I'm not entirely sure. And, thinking about it, I'm not entirely sure I want to know. 

Anyway, I looked at that dead snake for a while, from a safe distance. I thought about what I needed to do. I needed to pick it up and put it in the bin. I took a step towards it. I took a step back. I remembered what I'd learned from every horror movie ever: a thing is never as dead as you think it is. 

So I called my friend's boyfriend and got him to come over and do it.  

I'll take ridicule over trauma any day, thanks. 

Which brings me to trauma. 

When I was about nine, I lived in a small town called Monto. One day, my sister Kath and a few other friends were walking along the railway track into town. This was the shortcut. Anyway, for whatever reason, we were trying to scare each other. And Jenny (to complicate this story further, one of the other girls was called Jenny), who was walking on the other side of the track to the rest of us, suddenly screamed, "There's a snake!" 

Like I'd fall for that! I huffed and rolled my eyes. "No there isn't!" 

Pumped up with the urge to prove her wrong, I stepped over the railway track and found myself face to face with one of these: 

A red belly black snake: source

My heart stopped. It reared back. I stared at it. It stared at me. 

Don't move, I told myself. If you move, it will strike. 

I moved anyway. To be honest, I think I moved so fast I travelled back in time. 

I'm not sure if this is the exact day I got my snake phobia, but it certainly honed it to a sharp edge. 

Snakes terrify me. 

Oh, wait, here's a third snake story. A few months ago I was in my back yard, and I suddenly overheard the neighbours shouting. 

"Holy shit! Did you see the size of that snake? There! There it is! It's going over the fence now!" 

The other fence, I begged silently as I ran inside and closed the door. Please be talking about the other fence. 

Sometimes I wonder why I live in this country at all. 


  1. Australia is definitely a land unto itself. I've seen it for myself on a map.

    But really, not only do venomous snakes give me the willies, but I saw a documentary on your cute little box jellyfish once, and that made it so I didn't want to go south of the equator, to say nothing of swimming about in my shorts.

    1. How could I forget the jellyfish? We swim in nets because of them. And yep, those'll kill you!

  2. Hahahaha! Snakes are to you, what redbacks are to me. NEMESES. I was bitten when I was 7. We've been at war ever since. Brown snakes are moving in, though. I nearly stepped on one at the start of the year, and he wasn't little. :-/ We're going prepared to our beach rental this New Year's! Shovels and fly spray, all the way!!!

    1. I am also terrified of redbacks. Why do we live here again? And brown snakes! We don't have too many of those up this way, but I remember them well from my time living further down south.

      "They're more scared of you than you are of them," people always say. Sure, fine, but I won't bite them and kill them.

  3. We had rattlers where I grew up, copperheads, and water moccasin snakes. I'm not fond of them either. As a child, I nearly picked up a rattler on a dare. An adult intervened, lucky for me.

    1. Very lucky! It's funny how kids have no fear at all, but we develop them along the way.

  4. You're in the midst of spring. I'd say Australia and New Zealand are perfect spots to "winter". Except for the fact that everything there is trying to kill you, what with the snakes and those "drop bears" and all.

    1. Oh, the drop bears are the worst. Vicious, bloodthirsty killers, the lot of them. :)

  5. And that is why I could never live in Australia... or pretty much anywhere else except New Zealand because we don't have anything nasty here. No snakes, no deadly spiders or large amphibians with huge teeth... even your 'harmless' huntsman spiders completely freak me out. Heck, cockraches and daddy-long-legs freak me out. I'm a complete wuss.

    Moving right along - I know you'll feel my pain: a possum has taken up recent at my house. Specifically, in a little alcove above my balcony, under the roof. When I try to shoo it away it just looks at me obnoxiously, like it owns the place. I'm going to have to pay to get it trapped. Ugh.

    1. New Zealand sounds perfect...until I got to the part about the possums! Good luck with the removal :)



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