What to do if you encounter a dangerous creature

Module One: Safety

What to do if you encounter a dangerous creature

(And I mean the non-human kindJ!)

In most cases freeze, and breathe in slowly and quietly.

Then move away steadily – in the opposite direction. Don’t run, or draw attention to yourself by shouting or waving your arms: the animal’s instinct is to chase: Most creatures, insects or snakes will not harm you if they sense no danger to themselves. Shrieking, jumping around or running will alert the animal into protecting itself – probably by attacking you.

If you encounter a wild animal, look it in the eye and try to make your self seem bigger – open your coat, stand up on tiptoe. If you can, hide behind a tree, out of the wind (so your scent doesn’t carry).

To avoid encounters:

On land

  • Keep your distance.
  • Don’t camp near rivers or ponds.
  • Don’t approach wildlife.
  • Talk while you walk.
  • There’s no need to stamp your feet heavily but don’t tread lightly – snakes can feel the earth vibrate and will move away from you.
  • Keep your hands to yourself – don’t poke around in hollow logs, leaf piles and so on.
  • Shake all bedding, sleeping bags and rugs before and after use.

In water

  • Wear a wetsuit to minimise the effects of jelly fish stings
  • Stay still – don’t disturb the water by splashing or flapping about
  • Never go into water where signs warn of danger (you’d be amazed at how many people do).
  • Stay within safety nets.
  • If a beach is deserted there’s usually a reason why – look for notices before entering the water

Finally, remember the most dangerous creature on the planet is the mosquito – killing more than any other creature on the planet, followed by the fly. Wear repellent!

By contrast, in Australia -which has the highest percentage of dangerous creatures of any country- there is only one death per year caused by a shark, and only two per year from snake bites

Dangerous creatures, either from their poison, their sting or their bites:

Bears, sharks, jellyfish, snakes, spiders, elephants, buffaloes, scorpions, crocodiles, hippos, big cats, pufferfish (only if eaten), stingrays, frogs, flies…and mosquitoes

Self test questions:

  • What is the most dangerous creature on the planet?
  • What’s usually the best thing to do if you encounter a dangerous creature?

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