Many people would love to live in Australia and dream of moving here at some point. But also for many the fear of snakes and spiders in Australia may just be enough to put them off the idea.
So what’s it really like when you do live in Australia?
Acclimatisation – getting used to Australian creepy crawlies.
It seems to me that everybody goes through a period of acclimatisation, although everyone will be different because each of us has our own starting point. From my point of view, if you were to measure the fear of snakes and spiders on a scale of one to 10, with one being “not bothered” and 10 being “OMG there’s a snake/spider! Run!” I reckon I am only a two.
Spiders just don’t bother me, I’ll put a glass over them, slide a postcard underneath and throw them out off the door. I have only ever seen two snakes in the wild, both pointed out to me otherwise I would have missed them, and I was comfortable enough to get real close to each.
No rush of adrenaline, no fast heartbeat, no sweaty palms and no feelings of anxiety. Now that you have a greater understanding of my “starting point”, let me tell you about my acclimatisation to life in Australia.
In many ways we had a baptism of fire, moving in to a house that had been empty for around five months. Empty of humans that is! Creepy crawlies had taken over or that’s how it seemed to us. Spiders were almost a daily occurrence.
During this period I was convinced I’d crossed swords with both a funnel web spider and a Redback spider here in my home. I still think the Redback could have been one, but my funnel web……
….was more likely to have been a female mouse spider which is as toxic as the funnel web, but rarely delivers that venom in a bite. So on that basis, not so dangerous, but it will hurt you. This sentence was updated January 2014, see Bills comment below for details. As for the funnel web, I’ll show you what one of those looks like soon.
During this stage one period, you will find yourself automatically checking around the skirting boards and the walls and ceilings for spiders every time you enter a new room. I would be especially vigilant when putting my daughter to bed.
Getting up in the middle of the night to visit the small room would mean walking barefoot in the dark. During this stage one, it was impossible to do that without thinking of the “what if there is a spider” scenario. Climbing back into a dark bed would raise the same question.
I’m not sure how long this stage one period lasted for me, but I do remember realising all of a sudden that I was no longer doing the above. That was after we’d been here for five months, so I would imagine I spent around four months in stage one.
During this stage you feel much more comfortable indoors and around the home, but you might still be checking inside your shoes before you put them on. Going out into the garage or the garden you would still find yourself checking and scanning the ground and the walls around you checking for bad things. You would take a deep breath before moving any outside storage boxes or going into the garden shed.
I reckon stage two lasted a further six to nine months, so by the time you enter the next stage you have been living in Australia for, give or take, around a year.
Now you are starting to feel just as comfortable out in the garage as you did indoors. I found myself popping into the garage without putting any shoes on and if I did, checking inside them for spiders was now a thing of the past.
By and large, at this stage you are living a pretty normal life unhindered by the worries of spiders and snakes. You are still aware they exist and the dangers they can pose, but you no longer think about them every day. I thought this would be the final stage.
But I was wrong!
You start going camping.
I am going to admit here and now that even though I only classed myself as a number two in the above one to 10 fear factor test, before arriving here to live in Australia I would have said that the chances of me going camping were probably zero.
Yes, even I thought camping would have been too risky. Too close to nature for my liking out here. All those “what ifs” about snakes and spiders would lead me to the next question of “how much is it to rent an apartment”.
So, up until really recently, all of our holidays and weekend breaks we spent staying in apartments. But we also stopped at a camping site chain called Big 4 when we went on our Australian road trip, and that meant staying in cabins on a campsite.
That was probably a good stepping stone and now we are very comfortable going camping and sleeping in tents in the middle of nowhere. Not just me, but my wife and my daughter too.
So it seems our acclimatisation to our Australian lifestyle is complete. All accomplished within two years. I wonder if there is a “stage five”. Perhaps I’ll go swimming with sharks, or I will wear a live snake as a belt, or I might go stonefish hunting or maybe I’ll start picking up spiders to take a closer look.
Like this bloke….