BYO (Anti-Venom That Is)

English: Sydney funnel web spider

English: Sydney funnel web spider (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another ‘American living in Australia‘ experience has prompted me to post…

My poor husband. Truly there are times where he marvels that our country is so heavily populated. How so many more of us haven’t perished from a spider/box jellyfish/crocodile/shark or snake bite defies logic for him. The fact that we have so many deadly creatures is one thing, but this recent development to him was going way too far.

It was announced on the news recently that there was an anti-venom shortage for the funnel web spider bite. For those of you that don’t know, the funnel web spider is the deadliest in the world and is found well, pretty much everywhere people are also found en mass. As you can imagine this creates quite a problem.

My (apparently incorrect) assumption was that ‘they’ (being those anti-venom experts) had some kind of breeding center where they bred these nasty beings and milked them for their venom. I’m not suggesting that I’ve come up with some kind of ground breaking solution or anything, but to all those funnel web experts out there, you might want to consider this option in preference to the ‘solution’ (and I use that term loosely), you offered below.

Surprisingly this is not the case. Given that there is no such facility, along with the announcement about the anti-venom shortage was also a rather detailed segment on the prime time news explaining what we as good citizens can do to help alleviate this problem. In short, they were asking regular Australian citizens to catch funnel web spiders, and all they were suggesting we do it with was a cup, a piece of cardboard, and a well-written will in hand. (I lie the will was never mentioned,  an oversight no doubt.)

It was this segment that I found my husband watching in horrific disbelief.

You must watch the clip, it’s really quite laughable and only 2 minutes long. (Note how he moves the cup so calmly when the spider looks to be headed in a different direction – 2 inches from his hand!!)

How to catch the worlds deadliest spider – with a cup and a piece of cardboard.

Being a good Aussie girl I myself watched this segment with relative disinterest thinking back to all the times my father had searched the yard for these notorious killers when we were kids, pouring mineral turpentine into their holes, lighting a match and throwing it into the hole before walking away in search for his next victim. I never thought much about this, his obvious duty was to protect his family and this was the safest and most efficient way to get the job done. Funnel webs were an unpleasant part of life, but not one that I gave much thought to – until now.

Hubby looked at me when the segment ended in absolute disbelief. “That would never air on the prime time news anywhere in America” he exclaimed; “In fact I doubt it would air for any reason, ever, anywhere in America! That’s the kind of advise that would end up in lawsuits by the thousands!”

I pondered this for a moment and came to the conclusion he was right. That said, I also don’t think too many Americans would choose to play with such a dangerous creature even if the segment were to go to air – unfortunately there is a large population of (mostly) young men here in Australia who seem to be er.. mentally challenged in such areas. That segment essentially endorsed stupid and dangerous behaviour, they would be most happy to comply.

No doubt this is why you saw the very clear direction from the expert on not allowing dad (read: men) to perform this task. As you can see, the one positive my hubby took out of this whole clip was that he wasn’t expected to catch the spider – in fact it was deemed that both children and dads should stay away from these deadly creatures. It seems that us ‘mums’ are either strangely resistant to the bite of such a spider, or perhaps perceived as just a little more dispensable. (I’m fairly sure which, and I don’t appreciate the insinuation!)

This whole ‘population rescue’  that us mothers are supposed to make, is all contingent of course on the fact that we aren’t bitten by this worlds most deadly and notoriously agressive spider in the process! Which, ironically, would require the need of an anti-venom that is already in direly short supply.

Is it not enough that we are almost solely responsible for populating the world, and now we’ve been lumped with the responsibility of keeping you all alive as well? Something seems very wrong with this picture if you ask me.

I did find a special kind of pleasure in hearing him say in the post script portion of the segment “The one you catch may save your child, mother, friend or relative.” Notably, he neglected to mention that the one you catch could also end up being the one that causes demise of your own being.

Gotta love the Australians it’s such a small detail, no need to mention it and get people all all worked up over nothing.

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21 thoughts on “BYO (Anti-Venom That Is)

  1. Jennifer says:

    well…looking back – it all seemed very much the “”right thing to do”to watch your father wander around the house with matches and turps in hand :):) and we all lived !

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  2. Stonehead says:

    My Dad’s father was a genuine bushie—drover, horsebreaker, shearer, etc. Back in the ’70s, I remember him pointing out one of his mates, a bloke with one hand, and telling me, “That’s Curly, he lost his hand to a funnel web”. Of course, I asked how.

    “Well, he was out checkin’ his dingo traps in the ’20s and, bein’ a drongo of sorts, didn’t remember where he’d put one. So he’s cursin’ and kickin’ through the scrub to find it. And he did. Tripped right over the bugger. Smack, that’s him flat on his face.

    “Curly thought he was lucky. No snap of that trap on any of him. Then he lifts up his head and sees this dirty great funnel web rearing up over his left hand and, chonk, it sinks its nippers into his middle finger. Well, Curly jumped up with a howl, flung the funnel web off and stomped it well and and good.

    “Then he figured he had a problem. He was miles out from the boundary hut, the cockie wasn’t expectin’ him back for days and he’s got a funnel web bite on his finger. So first he tries the old bush trick of slashing the bite with his knife and suckin’ the venom out. You gotta remember to spit though—you don’t wanna drink that stuff.

    “Well, Curly did that but he was soon feelin’ a bit crook. Green around the gills and all. He sat down with his back against this old stump, looked at his finger and, you know while he’s a bit slow on the uptake, he figured out if he didn’t do something he’d be karked. So he rips his shirt up and bandages his arm tight to slow the blood and then staggers back to his camp. He got some of the twine he used to tie up dingo hides, ties it really tight around his wrist, got his axe, put his hand on a block of wood and, whomp, chops it off. Actually, he didn’t. Well, not in one blow. He told me later it took a few chops but he couldn’t remember how many.

    “After that, he bandages his arm good and tight, drags himself onto his horse and heads for the boundary hut. He was lucky, a couple of ringers found him a day later, he was out of his head, but they pulled him through with lots of rum. No flying doctor in those days.

    “Anyway, when I saw him not long after it happened, he was really down in the dumps and havin’ a good whinge. Well, I says to him, look Curly, it’s your left hand, not your right, you’ll be right.”

    “Do you know what he says? He says, Tiger, it’s really bad, I had my missus’ birthday tattooed on my left hand and I’ll never remember it now. She’ll have me guts for garters.”

    That’s the traditional Aussie approach to funnel web spiders!

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    • Admin says:

      This was the best reply ever! You should totally make a post out of this story.

      I of course read it with the admiration and appreciation that only an Australian whose family member was sent over on a early boat for stealing bread and candlesticks (candlestick – WTF?) can.

      Then of course I read it to my already horrified, American-born-and-bred-husband. I actually thought he might pass out, and he literally recoiled when I got to the part about ‘it taking a few chops.’

      These are the kind of solid people Australia was founded on. What a bloke he was… I hope his wife was suitably empathetic to his plight.

      My grandfather was in Changi during the war and some of the stories he tells… well it was horrific of course, but he doesn’t talk about that, just about the great times and these sense of mateship. To hear him talk you would think it was summer camp!

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      • Stonehead says:

        Thanks. I actually left the most nausea inducing bit out of the story—the bush surgery involved in tidying up his arm and one of the reasons for the lashings of rum. If I’d put that in, your husband (and other readers) may well have headed for the great white phone.

        I have quite a few stories like that about family members, many of whom were very early pioneers (usually involuntary like yours!). My great-grandfather, for example, took his pregnant wife and infant daughter overland from Hampton in the Blue Mountains to the Kalgoorlie gold rush. And back again when they didn’t strike it rich. That’s something like 2,900km, one-way, by bullock wagon and camel train.

        Tough people for a tough country.

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  3. Wosco says:

    I think your Dad was wrong, he was supposed to use petrol not turps, it give a hell of a Whoomp

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    • Admin says:

      Ah….Wosco! He may well have used petrol, my memory might not be serving me well, and if he wasn’t I suggest his brother should set him straight! ;)

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  4. Oh how I’ve missed you! As much as i want to be in Australia.. the fear I have of all the critters you have, this one in particular.. freaks the hell out out of me. I do NOT like spiders. I was cringing the whole time I watched that video.

    A few years ago, I was tending to my yard, and came across, not 1, but 2, black widows. I would not even get close to them. You know that saying, “I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole”? Yea, I found a long ass pole to poke at it with..lol. One was already dead.. my guess, killed by the other. Both were big, shiny, black, with the red hourglass. UGH. I did take a fuzzy picture with a horrible camera I had back then. Prior to trying to poke the other one to death. I don’t recall the outcome.. I think I was in shock.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v458/meg1970/October%202004/Halloween%20and%20spiders/spiderabdomen.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v458/meg1970/October%202004/Halloween%20and%20spiders/spiderblack2.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v458/meg1970/October%202004/Halloween%20and%20spiders/spiders.jpg

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    • Admin says:

      Oh Meg,

      Thanks for helping me delve a little deeper into the fear I have of spiders!

      I did see a few black widows in my time in Texas and I had a hard time being scared of them since they didnt LOOK as scary as our funnell web – they looked a lot more like our red back… still you need to work up that fear when something can kill you, even if its that small! Your furry pics were awful though. Furry, big spiders are just terrifying and there’s no two ways about it!

      At least you Americans are smart, you aren’t being asked to catch them yourselves! It really is insane!

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  5. SocietyRed says:

    Karyn,
    I love the contrast you describe between your country and the US. I look forward to someday visiting your area but I hope I never encounter one of those spiders, or any of the other creatures you describe.
    Red

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    • Admin says:

      To be fair Red, we rarely come across these. When I was a kid we had them in the yard of our vacation home which was very underdeveloped. These days with development I suspect we’re killing more of them off? Though we apparently still need that anti venom, who knows? All I know is for all those deadly things we seem to have everywhere, Ive never been bitten by anything more than a bee! I do hope you get your trip out here someday, it certainly is a unique place!

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      • Stonehead says:

        Red backs in the dunny are much more common. Or were. My mother’s parents had an outhouse dunny that had to be checked carefully before sitting. Long-drop dunnies out bush were the same—quite exciting as a kid to go out with a kero lantern in the dead of night and poke around the dunny for spiders. (That should be a good one for your husband! :D)

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  6. Elyse says:

    My husband and I were just bemoaning politics in the US and talking about emigrating to Australia.

    Maybe we’ll rethink that thought. He hates spiders, and I’m certainly not going to catch them in a cup!

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    • Admin says:

      Ha! Well for what its worth, I won’t be either! It really was insane that they were asking us to do that. Australians!! For what its worth we’ve been back in Aus coming up on 3 years and I havent seen one since we moved here….though I have encountered a 9 foot python on the driveway, a brown snake in the neighbourhood, a Goanna in our pool, and various other (non dangerous wildlife) in our yard! Still we live in the country…perhaps the city would be more to your liking! Regardless, you should pay the place a visit, Australia would enjoy you, Im sure of that!

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  7. Elyse says:

    Welcome back — I’ve missed you!

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  8. Karyn, I wasn’t expecting to see that picture when I browsed over, gave me the right heeby jeebies!! I had a bit of a spider issue this summer, needless to say my outside door never gets opened now. It reminds me of that meme you see on the internet “I saw a spider in my room, but don’t worry, i burnt the house down” :)

    http://laughteriscatching.com/2012/07/19/survival-of-the-fittest-i-dont-think-thats-me/

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    • Admin says:

      Sorry about the pic, it is horrifying to look as isn’t it? Hey lets face it, it’s horrifying to hear about! I still cant figure out how on earth legally they can get on the news and ask regular citizens to catch the worlds deadliest spider with a cup and a piece of card! Staggering!

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  9. etomczyk says:

    I’m reading this with my Sunday morning coffee with my mouth wide open in an expression of sheer horror. I am never, ever, ever visiting Australia–do you hear me, never!! And I thought your crocs were bad. Sheesh! Your poor, sweet husband. He must really love you. :) (Glad to have you back.)

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    • Admin says:

      Ha! Oh Eleanor, it seems a lot worse than it is. I swear to you Ive only seen a handful of deadly things in my whole 39 years of life – and look at me…walking upright and all! ;)

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  10. [...] danger and make stupid decisions that seem to exist en mass in Australia that i mentioned in my last post on the Anti-Venom shortage, here is a classic example of one such creature that was arrested a few weeks ago a few hours from [...]

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