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The deadly creatures lurking in your backyard

Eric Holland/Border Mail
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Australia is home to a huge number of strange and deadly animals and, like it or not, sometimes the most dangerous can be found a little too close to home.

That’s exactly what happened to Thurgoona resident Eric Holland, who was surprised to discover a huge goanna running around his backyard on Thursday.

“I was just doing a repair job in my shed when I opened the door and I saw this huge thing run across the ground and out of sight,” Mr Holland told the Border Mail

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“I went inside after I saw it in the backyard and heard a banging noise coming from the side of the house.

Goannas can cause severe injuries if provoked. Photo: AAP
Never provoke a goanna. Photo: AAP

“When I went outside I saw him on the side of the house with his tail hitting the drain pipe.”

Mr Holland said he had never seen anything like it before.

Mike Taylor, the Senior Reptile Keeper at Melbourne’s Healesville Sanctuary, said while it’s uncommon to find a goanna in your backyard, it’s not unheard of either.

“Goannas live in semi-rural areas and can be quite common. But they generally steer clear of people unless there’s an attraction in the vicinity, particularly people who keep birds, because they love eggs.

“But having one clinging to the side of your house like that is not a regular occurrence.”

While goannas aren’t usually a problem for humans, they have been known to eat chickens, rabbits and small dogs.

Mr Taylor said if you do find one on your property, call the experts – a local zoo or department of wildlife – and don’t ever approach the animal.

“An adult male goanna of that size is a very powerful animal, with a very powerful set of jaws with razor sharp teeth, and they’ve got claws which can rip you apart. They’ve got some serious weapons.”

“Having said that, they won’t attack people, and they should never be seen as a threat.”

So while you may not have to worry about finding a goanna in your backyard, here are some weird and deadly native animals you might find instead.

Snakes

Imagine spotting these in your backyard. Photo: AAP
Imagine spotting these in your backyard. Photo: AAP

Australia has more venomous snakes than any other country in the world, and Mr Taylor said he’s removed “dozens and dozens” from people’s properties.

He also said there are many more out there.

“For every time a snake gets sighted, there’s dozens of other occasions where a snake has probably been in your backyard, and you didn’t even know it.”

But there’s no need to panic.

“They’re not there to cause you any harm. Most of the time they’re just coming and going. It’s just it happens so frequently that you’re bound to see one, one day,” Mr Taylor said.

“My advice is always to get professional help. There’s nothing to be gained by going after the animal yourself.

“If there’s going to be a bite, that’s when it occurs.”

Crocodiles

Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles in the world. Some can reach six or seven metres in length.

They’re known for their powerful jaws and their aggressiveness. Four people died from crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory in 2014.

Saltwater crocodiles can be found all over the north of Australia, including, occasionally, in the lounge rooms of terrified Territorians.

Imagine trying to keep your lunch from this guy. Photo: AAP
Imagine trying to keep your lunch from this guy. Photo: AAP

Cassowaries

Cassowaries are the heaviest birds in Australia, and are native to the north-east of the country. The birds have been known to attack humans when threatened, but there’s only one reported death by cassowary.

The birds naturally very shy but the lure of easy food has drawn some of them to Queensland towns, where they have been known to steal lunch straight out of people’s hands.

Dingoes

Australia’s wild dog has a bad reputation. Attacks on humans are rare, but they are a bane to farmers as they often attack and eat livestock.

Dingoes can be found all over the Australian mainland. This includes some households in NSW, Victoria, the ACT and Western Australia, where it is legal to keep the animals as pets.

Spiders

Despite the widespread fear of these (mostly) little arachnids, there have been no reported spider-related deaths in Australia since 1979.

However, Sydneysiders should always be wary of the funnel web holes in their gardens. A Sydney funnel web spider bite is said to be excruciatingly painful and can lead to death in 28 minutes.

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