Hoo-roo Jackaroos!

Some of you may have noticed that I hail from Australia, that huge, salty land where the Ozone Layer is just a myth (a day at an Aussie beach can be accurately simulated by just camping out inside your microwave oven); is home to marsupials aplenty (abortion is easy over here—you just ask the lady to turn out her pockets) and where our annual crop of hot young male actors is harvested mercilessly by Hollywood, thus shrinking our gene pool and ensuring a future where all Australians will end up looking like Dame Edna.

We're also renowned for our flora and fauna, which demonstrates a universal tendency towards a] being even more lethally venomous than Perez Hilton and b] usually in a mood to show you what colour your duodenum is by ripping it bodily from your belly via your nostrils. If our zoologists discover a plant or animal here that doesn't have the ability to kill you six times over before you can say "Crikey!", then we make it move next door to New Zealand.

 So, as a cautionary guide for those of you mad, bad or dangerous enough to attempt a visit to Australia (I recommend coming by plane- our beaches are becoming crowded with the water-logged corpses of people who try and walk here), here's a look at some of the most Ornery Critters of Oz:


-the world's most venomous spider is quite easy to recognize, as it is large (mouse-sized), blue-black and frequently found attached to the faces of Sydney folk who have unwisely decided to take up gardening, or, as I like to call it "arachnid-assisted backyard grave-diggery".

Female funnel-webs are largely harmless, can stay totally still for days at a time and seldom leave their burrows anyway, making them the spider equivalent of your average OPRAH WINFREY SHOW viewer. *Male* funnel-webs however, are aggressive when frightened, pack a bite than can kill an adult human in under an hour, and go wandering during the warmer months (note that in Australia, this translates to "all the fucking time") looking for spidery sex, which means they frequently end up in houses—homeless, horny and homicidal.

They laugh at insecticides, can survive immersion in a pool for several hours (always check to see if your floatie has eight legs, children) and have fangs so strong they can bite straight through light shoes or, in a pinch, through your fingernail. The one thing they can't do is jump, so I advise visitors to Sydney to get around the city on a pair of stout circus-approved stilts at all times.


– a huge,flightless bird that looks like something you'd expect to emerge screaming from the telepod to eat Jeff Goldblum if you sent a turkey, an ostrich and a velociraptor through a matter transporter, the Cassowary is a shy, retiring, human-sized bird that is quite happy to munch on wind-fall nuts and fruits in what's left of the Queensland rainforests.

Unfortunately, the middle toe of each of its feet bears a razor-sharp claw of 5-8 inches length with which it can attack either a predator or a tourist from Pepperell, Massachusetts and switch their internal organs over to the less popular "external" setting in the time it takes you to think "Holy shit, that's one angry mammerjammin' turkey."

Also, it was not at the front of the queue when Mother Nature handed out the brains to the animal kingdom. Cassowaries are dangerously stupid in more than one sense of the word, as they are liable to assume that *any* noise in their general vicinity is a dingo looking for a super-sized drumstick, meaning that this feathered combine harvester will usually disembowel first, ask questions later.



– This jellyfish is notable for being the deadliest creature on the face of the earth (except for humans, of course- though if a Chironex ever evolves an opposable thumb and a pair of feet, we're fucked). A sting from a large one can kill you *instantaneously*, due to the shock and pain just stopping your heart (I hear that's going to be a major selling point on the next bunch of international ads for Australian Tourism).

Not only are Chironex lethal, they're transparent to the point of invisibility, and are the jellyfish equivalent of Einstein- they have structures that act like eyes, a dense collection of neural fibres in their bell that functions as a primitive brain (much in the same way as Christian Fundamentalists, although *their* neural fibres are in their asses), and they can control both their stinging cells and the direction they float in, unlike other jellies that reflexively sting anything they brush against (strangely enough, *also* like Christian Fundamentalists) and are pretty much at the mercy of the great and glorious Poseidon. This means that the near-invisible Chironex can see you, swim over to you and decide whether or not to fuck up your day- it's basically a ninja made of snot.


Yes, even our cuter, national-emblem type critters are not above getting their sweet widdle paws dirty with spurting human arterial blood when they're not appearing on our currency (the twenty cent coin, which is currently worth approximately $60,000 US or $50 Mexican Pesos plus a bootleg copy of TWILIGHT in which Edward Cullen is played by Tommy Chong). 

Platypi (yes, that is the plural, you grammar nazis. Um…nazies? Nazzi?!) have a leathery bill with electrophoric sensors that detect their invertebrate prey underwater, shuttable ear holes, webbed claws, a beaver-like tail, they lay eggs, sweat milk—oh yes, and the males have a venomous spur behind each of their rear legs which they will drive into your favourite limb the moment you pick them up for a photo-op, and inject you with a poison that, whilst not lethal, will make you swell up like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Float (only one that cusses and screams a lot more) and, bizarrely, reverses your tongue's ability to sense hot and cold, meaning that for the next few months your grandma's chili will mock you and you will scald yourself every time you have a nice cold glass of water. We're not the topsy-turvey continent for nothing!


-This one is usually the deal-breaker for your more determined tourist. They can deal with the baby-devouring dingoes, the deadly snakes in their sleeping bags and the dinner-plate sized spiders that make off with their spouses if they stay in one place too long, but tell them about the Blue-Ring and it's always: "You guys have the world's only lethally-venomous octopus? Fuck you sideways, I'm holidaying somewhere safer, like Baghdad or Camp Crystal Lake".

Blue-rings are tiny (matchbox-sized) octopi that hunt crabs and fish in rock-pools at night, and spend their days napping in those same rock-pools.Their bite releases a deadly venom which contains tetradotoxin, the same poison that makes zombies in Haiti and fugu sushi in Japan. (Australia: home of the undead, deadly calamari!)

The octopus' poison paralyzes your lungs (and you) but leaves you conscious, meaning you're awake and aware but unable to alert the hunky lifeguard giving you CPR, the doctor pronouncing you dead at the hospital or the guy about to embalm and cremate you at the morgue—which most of you would be aghast at due to the thought of being possibly buried alive, but makes me more terrified of missing out on the chance for a reciprocal pash with a hunky lifeguard.

The octopus advertises its "I'm lethal don't fuck with me youse wankers" status by flashing electric-blue circles on its body when it is angry—which tends to make it *more* pretty and interesting and liable to be picked up by inquisitive children—it is for this reason that the Blue-Ring Octopus is frequently farmed out to Australian Family Planning Centres.



The most venomous fish on the planet is, of course, found frolicking in the glorious, sapphire blue waters of my gorgeous but fucking hardcore continent. I say "frolicking", but what I really mean is "sitting there like a great lump". The Stonefish's great talent is looking like a rock to avoid predators- although if there's something out there in the deep mad enough to include a regular does of vitamin stonefish as part of its balanced diet, I certainly wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alley- or even a well lit football stadium. Stonefish look like a rock, act like a rock and even feel like a rock- but not many rocks have an array of 13 spines running along their backs that will kill you dead in under a half hour if you step on them.