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Dangerous animals

Dangerous animals

Victoria has only a few animals that may be of danger to people. The risk they pose is reasonably low.

Australian Magpies

This native bird, loved by many, is common throughout Victoria, especially in suburban areas and farmland. During their breeding season from August to October, a very small number of these birds may regard people as a threat to their eggs or young and swoop upon those who pass by close to their nest. These swooping actions are usually just a bluff to scare people away. However on rare occasions, particularly aggressive magpies can make physical contact and cause injuries with their beak or claws. Try to avoid areas magpies are known to swoop in, otherwise wear a hat or use an umbrella for protection. Swooping magpies will generally not target people in a group or if you are facing them.

Kangaroos

Kangaroos are usually shy animals by nature and in normal circumstances present no threat to people. However in certain situations if they feel threatened or are cornered, they may stand upright to defend themselves using their sharp claws and powerful hind legs.

Redback spiders

Redback spiders live throughout Victoria. Outdoors, they may typically be found in sheltered areas such as under logs and rocks. They can are also found in urban environments, such as inside buildings.

A redback spider bite is poisonous and anyone bitten should seek medical attention. While some bites do not result in any venom being injected, a redback spider can bite multiple times.

Excluding those with acute allergic reactions to redbacks, no deaths have occurred from bites since the 1960s when anti-venom became available.

Sharks

Within Victorian waters there are several species of sharks that are known to be dangerous to humans, however attacks are rare. To minimise the risk of attack, swim at patrolled beaches or protected swimming areas, don't swim at night, and avoid swimming in deep waters or areas where dangerous sharks are known to congregate.

Snakes

A number of venomous snake species are found in Victoria, including the tiger, copperhead, brown and red-bellied black snake. Not all of these species are found throughout the state. For example, the only type of snake that is found on Phillip Island is the copperhead.

While seeing a snake may be an intimidating experience, they are typically shy creatures and most will try to avoid confrontation with humans.

Snakes use venom to kill their prey. As snakes in Australia do not perceive humans as food, they do not go looking for people to bite. However, bites can occur if people attempt to catch, kill, corner, provoke, startle or accidentally stand on a snake. Snakes are typically creatures of instinct - if they feel threatened or pain is being inflicted, they may lash out with a bite.

If bitten by a snake, call an ambulance and try to stay calm. In order to slow down the flow of any venom which may have been injected, apply a pressure bandage (improvise if required) over the bite and up the limb, then remain as still as possible.

Depending on the species of snake and the circumstances that resulted in the bite, it is estimated that more than half of all people bitten receive only "dry bites", with no venom being injected. However, you should never assume that you've received a dry bite - always seek immediate medical attention.

The risk of being bitten by a snake or dying from a snake bite is extremely low. While highly variable, it is estimated that no more than a couple of hundred people each year get bitten by snakes in Victoria. Despite this, on average only one person every 5 years dies of a snake bite. The last recorded fatal snake bite in Victoria was by a tiger snake in November 2014.

To put the risk of dying from a snake bite in perspective, consider that each year in Victoria about 40 people die from drowning in waterways and 270 people die in car accidents.