Snakes or bears: which are more dangerous?

by Gabriel Miller / Sep 24, 2013 / 0 comments

People around the world have local knowledge that can save their lives. As a Canadian and an American, I know how to deal with bears, wolves, skunks, and other animals. Don’t leave food out when camping, pick up trash, don’t wander around near their territory, don’t touch them or their cubs - and all the other little rules that you get taught as you grow up. But when we go to another location with different dangerous animals (or reptiles), we are totally not in our element and we have to watch every step so that we don’t step on a snake, anger a komodo dragon (unlikely), or trod on a bull ant den.


In Australia, locals know how to deal with their dangerous animals (or reptiles). Don’t go off the paths, don’t dig under rocks, don’t go down into places you can’t see, keep your shoes on, and all those other things that we don’t know in eastern America and Canada. We don’t really have that many dangerous snakes in the places I have lived in North America, and so I am used to going without shoes. I am also used to digging around under rocks because there are no snakes about to leap out and kill me. Bears don’t live under small rocks - and usually the bear will leave you alone more often than not!


Snakes or bears: which are more dangerous?


What I find really strange, but totally obvious, is that people come to Australia and are constantly looking out for snakes and other dangerous things like that. But when we are home, we go walking around barefoot, or wading into rivers with practically nothing on, but Australians have told me that if they went to America they wouldn’t touch the water or go off the paths for fear of things like cotton heads, bears, or wolves. I think it is important that we know that we are just used to the things that we grow up with, it is important that we are aware of these things, because some people aren’t.


I was talking to a friend I made here in Australia, and I was telling him how my friends and I would go running in the woods daily, to find worms to use to fish, and how we would play stick fights at night because then we could not see each other very well and we would have to surprise each other to win. He looked at me incredulously and asked me in a very surprised voice, “But aren’t you afraid that the bears or wolves might find you and kill you? Aren’t you afraid that you will die or get lost in those huge forests you have there?”


I looked at him calmly and replied, “Aren’t you afraid of being bitten by snakes and killed? Aren’t you afraid of being lost in these open areas you have? We find little things where we live that lead us home, such as a scratch in the wood of a tree or a rock sticking out of the ground, where we live and you find them here; we are used to the bears and wolves and know they will not kill us almost ever and wolves are almost nonexistent. We don’t get lost easy in the woods but we would be hopelessly lost here, and we know what to watch for where we live, but we would die here if it wasn’t for the locals here trying to make it safer for tourists.” He agreed with me, and so that was that on that front. Locals know the dangerous animals best.


Snakes or bears: which are more dangerous?


Just the other day I was in a park here in Australia playing Capture-The-Flag with some friends of ours. It was cool, but the smell of the trees was overpowering. It was such a beautiful smell that I spent at least a full ten minutes sitting there, under the trees, just breathing. The sun threaded through the leaves above to fall brokenly along the ground, casting shadows over things, making it easier to hide from the others. The enemy’s flag was stuck in my belt as I waited for them to go away so that I could make a break for the hills in which I would hide until I could find a way to my base. I could feel the grass and leaves below me, and the bush behind my back, and everything was perfect. Well, everything but the fact that I was worrying about snakes.


Here I was, in the perfect hiding place, on the perfect day, and there they were, the rest of the teams, leaping and bounding through bushes and under branches to get to one another. None of them seemed the least bit worried about snakes, and I was trying hard not to move to look behind my back to see if there were snakes behind me. I had been told that there were no snakes in the park, but I wasn’t sure of that, really. This seemed to be yet more proof that Australians and Americans are used to different things, but when they are in the other’s country they know nothing about dangerous wildlife and are afraid of what might happen. And I am not ashamed to admit that I still look for snakes and poisonous lizards with every step.


It proves to me one thing, though. I like it a lot more underwater because hardly anything bothers you there. And to explain the title and which is more dangerous, I think that the snake is more dangerous than anything I can imagine, because it hides under things and then leaps out at you if you come to near. Bears, on the other hand, are slightly harder to miss.





Gabriel Miller is a student in the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program