Our First Encounter with Australian Wildlife

A skink. A common sight in Australia.

One of the first things that many people said when we initially told them we were going to Australia, was to warn us about the dangerous wildlife that there is.

There is no doubt that there are dangerous spiders, snakes and various other insects that exist within Australia, but it’s amazing how many people appear to know about these things whenever they’ve never even stepped foot inside the country.

As I said, it does possess some of the most dangerous creatures alive, but you soon realise that mostly, if you stay within the cities and towns of which the majority are on the coast, you’re rarely going to see anything all that dangerous. Most of the dangerous snakes, etc live in the ‘outback’ where only a small percentage of people actually live. On top of that, most of these animals don’t just attack for no reason, only when threatened and usually they hear/see/smell/sense your approach and are gone before you even know they were there!

Well…in saying all that, this is what the Aussie’s have been telling me, and they’re maybe just trying to make us feel a little more relaxed.

However, yesterday we experienced our first ‘major’ encounter with nature. I say major, not because we were in any danger, but more because it was an event we’re unlikely to forget, particularly because it’s our first.

At the back of the house here in Port Lincoln, there is a toilet that is rarely used, and while cleaning there Melanie came across a friendly little specimen that found itself in a precarious position.

This little fella was clinging to the inside of the little used (at least by us) toilet bowl. At this stage we’re not sure exactly what he is, or how he got there. If we knew what he was, then we’d know at least if it would have been possible for him to swim his way into that position.

The rescue probably took the better part of 30-45 minutes.

First, we had to determine if he was a ‘threat’, but after a few moments we decided that we were not in any danger. Then we wondered for a while how on earth we got there, and after we conceded that we’ve no idea, we decided that it was about time to think up a rescue plan.

I thought about lifting him with my hands, but I was afraid that he might wriggle ferociously, so that the pressure required to hold him would in fact kill him. I could have maybe lifted him by the tail, but then some of these creatures have a biological ‘defense mechanism’ which enables them to detach their tail so that the rest of them can escape.

I then thought about using a damp cloth (damp so it would be less likely to hurt him – at least that’s what I figured). But after a while I thought I’d just try to catch him in a container. The first I tried was too large and I couldn’t get it near him because of the bend in the bowl. After finding a smaller container I tried and edge it towards the little creature as slowly as possible.

It proved to be more difficult than I’d imagined. He ‘played dead’ so he wouldn’t move, even when I touched him. As I pushed it closer, he slid into the water, but quickly made his way out. After a few more efforts, I then tried using the lid of the container to slide him up into the container. On the first attempt he fell into the water again, but this time he didn’t move! Disaster!! Was he dead?

I wasn’t sure, but decided that while he was floating in the water, I’d place the lid below him and lift him up and into the container. With this done, we took him outside. But where do you put him? Generally these things are on the walls soaking up the rays, but I didn’t want to leave him somewhere visible where a bird might get him so I emptied him unto the grass.

We sat there watching him closely, wondering if all our efforts had given him a heart-attack or something. After about 30 seconds though, I noticed breathing movement and after a little while longer he moved. Hurrah… success!!

Or was it? As he moved, he wasn’t moving like a lizard should; it was slow and rather awkward. Maybe he was dazed, or maybe he belongs in water?! At this stage I’ve no idea, but he made his way out of the sun and under the path and I’ve no idea if he survived. Melanie told me she had cleaned the toilet with bleach the day before, and I was/am a little worried that that might have gotten to him.