Our Aussie summer is filled to the brim with things reflecting Mother Nature’s beauty, but alongside the sun, sand, and blooming summer flora comes a far more sinister threat. Here’s how to protect yourself against this small but deadly menace.
For the most part, Australians understand the risks associated with our summer, taking precautionary measures each day to avoid the damaging effects of our powerful sun’s heat and UV rays. But slapping on some sunscreen, while absolutely necessary, won’t protect you from all of summer’s elements.
Around the world, our country holds a pretty fierce reputation for housing some of Earth’s deadliest creatures. Our oceans, bushland, forests and skies are home to more than a few monsters, with some of the most dangerous difficult to pinpoint.
But while many measures exist on land and in the oceans to avoid deadly encounters, not every dangerous creature can be spotted from a helicopter, or kept at bay behind a fence. Furthermore, the hot, damp, and sunny weather conditions fast approaching us are set to significantly influence the behaviour and breeding habits of some terrifying creatures.
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As Billy Collett, Operations Manager of the Australian Reptile Park explains, the upcoming weather change following a prolonged El Nino event will likely cause a sudden boom in one species population.
“Funnel webs thrive in cool, damp areas and will be seeking shelter from the hot, dry weather that is set to roll in,” he says, especially warning Australians residing in the Greater Sydney region. The funnel web spider is one of Australia’s deadliest native species, responsible for 13 recorded deaths in the country.
While a lifesaving antivenom was introduced to the scene in 1981, access is not always guaranteed, especially in remote areas. Since the venom of a funnel web can prove fatal within sheer hours, it’s important to act efficiently if ever bitten.
How to avoid a deadly encounter
When it comes to keeping your home a funnel web-free zone, there are some simple precautions you can take. Clutter is a funnel web’s ideal hiding spot, says Liz Gabriel, Director and Owner of the Australian Reptile Park.
“It is best to ensure you are not leaving washing and clothing on the floors, if you leave your shoes outside, make sure you check them first before putting your foot in blindly as shoes can be the perfect little burrow for funnel-web spiders,” explains the expert, and yes, that includes your girl pile in the corner of your room.
But the funnel web prevention efforts shouldn’t stop there. The creepy crawly expert says it’s important to clear out any debris from your garden, such as snack boxes and leaf litter. Indoor debris is also risky, so experts urge you to keep cooler places such as a garage or shed nice and clean.
Though the summer months can reach record temperatures, the Eastern states are often subject to plenty of rainfall. Experts say it’s important to stay on top of damp areas in your home, as they attract funnel webs looking to lay down some roots.
What to do if you’ve been bitten
Despite all the precautionary measures above, these sneaky little suckers can often still find their way into your home. If you do come into contact with a funnel web, and believe you may have been exposed to its venom through a bite, Gabriel says it is absolutely imperative you make your way to a hospital as soon as possible.
“Use a pressure immobilisation bandage to go around the bite site a few times. Go down the limb, and head back up the limb as far as the bandage will take you,” advises the expert on what to do in the interim. “Immobilise the limb in either a shirt or using a splint or a sling and try and keep nice and still.”
While any encounter with a deadly spider, (or even a friendly, non-venomous one) can be a terrifying ordeal, it’s important to remain calm, prioritise your safety, and seek the advice or assistance of a professional in removing or disposing of the spider.