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Five Australian animals that could kill you, and what to do about them

Box jellyfish are one of the most venomous marine animals.
Box jellyfish are one of the most venomous marine animals in the world.

AAP: Paul Sutherland

Australia is often seen as a dangerous place, filled with many deadly creatures. But there's no need to be alarmed - if you take the right precautions you will be able to survive the harsh conditions like any other Australian. We've compiled a list of five Australian animals that could kill you and what to do when you come across them.

1. Box jellyfish

If you're swimming in the ocean off the coast of northern Australia it's important to watch out for jellyfish, and in particular the deadly box jellyfish.

The Australian box jellyfish is named due to its box-like shape and can have incredibly long tentacles. Most active during the high-risk season of October to May, box jellyfish are very hard to see in the ocean and are considered one of the most venomous marine animals in the world. The sting of a box jellyfish can cause severe and immediate pain, and could be fatal in under five minutes.

When swimming or diving in tropical waters you should always take precautions such as wearing a full-body wetsuit and if you're stung you must take immediate action.

You should exit the water immediately, apply vinegar to the wound, and call an ambulance by dialling 000.

2. Inland taipan

Inland taipan snake curled up on rock bed
The inland taipan is the most deadly land snake in the world.

ABC: Jim Trail

Also called the 'fierce snake', the inland taipan is the most venomous land snake in the world. It's often found in the drier inland desert areas in Australia, although has occasionally been found closer to the coast. The venom from one bite is able to kill around 100 people, so it's important that you seek medical attention immediately if bitten.

Whilst this snake can be deadly, it's very rare to actually be bitten by an inland taipan due to their remote location and nobody has died in Australia from an inland taipan bite.

But if you do happen to come across an inland taipan or any other snake, "the best thing to do is just to stay still" says Jake Meney, a reptile and spider keeper at the Australian Reptile Park.

"So if you stay still, most likely the snake's just going to move off in its own direction, and just go about the rest of its day, and leave you alone."

3. Eastern brown snake

eastern brown snake flickers its tongue
The eastern brown snake is responsible for the greatest number of snake bites in Australia.

ABC: Jim Trail

The second most venomous snake in the world - the eastern brown - can be found right along the east coast of Australia. Although the snake is called an 'eastern brown', they do actually come in a variety of colours so it can be difficult to distinguish this species if you are unfamiliar with them.

Brown snakes can adapt well to their environment, and Jake says this means they might be found in urban environments more often than other species.

"They're the snake that causes the most snake bites and snake bite fatalities in Australia," he says.

If you do get bitten by a snake it's important to administer first aid immediately and call 000. Jake says the best way to treat a snake bite is to immobilise the limb by wrapping a bandage over the bite, and then all the way along the limb. The pressure from the bandage restricts the flow of venom through your system.

"Essentially giving yourself a lot longer to get yourself to medical treatment," says Jake.

4. Sydney funnel-web spiders

A male Sydney funnel-web spider
The Sydney funnel-web spider is responsible for 13 recorded deaths.

Supplied: Australian Reptile Park

Funnel-web spiders are found right throughout eastern Australia and are mostly found in areas with dense, moist forests. The most infamous of these spiders would be the Sydney funnel-web which is found throughout the greater Sydney region.

Sydney funnel-webs are an aggressive spider that won't be afraid to attack if disturbed. They can move very quickly so you'll want to keep your distance if you come across one.

"Summer is the best time to encounter funnel-web spiders," says Jake.

Australia has a very successful funnel-web antivenom program with deaths due to funnel-web bites becoming increasingly rare. Only 13 deaths have ever been recorded due to funnel-web spiders in Australia and none of those have occurred since the introduction of the antivenom program in the 1980s.

If you do get bitten make sure you call an ambulance immediately and administer first aid in the same way as for a snake bite.

5. Saltwater crocodile

Saltwater crocodile
Crocodiles can easily mistake humans for other prey.

ABC: Iskhandar Razak

Arguably the scariest creature you're likely to find in Australia, the saltwater crocodile is an animal that was built to kill.

Found lurking in salty (and sometimes fresh) waters in northern Australia - the saltwater croc is the largest reptile on earth. The male crocodiles can grow to lengths of around 5.5 metres, so you really don't want to get in their way.

Crocodiles are very territorial and Jake says that crocodile attacks on humans mainly occur because of people foolishly entering the water in areas that are known to be inhabited.

"In the wild they'll be feeding on things like kangaroos, wallabies, feral pigs, but they could potentially take something up to the size of a large water buffalo," says Jake.

"They're an ambush predator. They lie in wait at the water's edge for something to come down and have a drink, and when that animal sticks its head in the water to have a drink that's when they'll usually... leap into action."

Most waterways in northern Australia have signs warning of crocodiles, but if you don't see a sign that doesn't mean there isn't a very present danger. So the best idea is to simply stay out of the water.

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