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Dangerous Rainforest Animals and Plants
Scrub-Itch Mites & Ticks
- Small creatures in the rainforest can cause just as many problems if not more than their bigger rivals.
- Ticks live on the ground in dry logs. It is therefore advisable to use a groundsheet if planning on sitting down in the rainforest.
- Juvenile scrub-itch mites like to attach themselves in skin folds and areas that are constricted by clothing, such as waistbands.
- They are easy to remove using head lice treatment and by washing all clothing.
- Adult scrub ticks are a more serious matter though.
- The feeding female's toxin can cause fatal paralysis in humans.
- By avoiding walking and camping in areas with thick undergrowth the chances of getting bitten are greatly reduced.
- Symptoms of a bite include-
- an itchy, raised crater like swelling.
- followed by a headache and numbness or pain in the affected area.
- To kill the tick apply insecticide or alcohol.
- Small animals such as spiders, scorpions, centipedes, wasps, hairy caterpillars and ants can inflicts painful bites or stings.
- As most species are harmless though the simplest thing to do is leave them alone and they will do the same to you.
- Found throughout the rainforest, leeches are a great annoyance to bushwalkers.
- After climbing the victims leg or dropping onto them from foliage they will attach themselves to the first bare bit of flesh, usually above the socks.
- Applying insect repellant over your shoes and socks should deter leeches.
- They are easily detached by exposing them to a flame or sprinkling them with salt or alcohol.
- Although snakes have one of the worst reputations, the majority of snakes are harmless and prefer to flee from humans if they're given the chance.
- To avoid unexpected encounters with snakes, look before stepping over logs and don't poke around rock crevices, hollow logs or burrows.
- Wearing sturdy boots, thick socks and long trousers will also decrease your chances of getting bitten.
- If you are bitten immediately apply a tight, broad pressure bandage. Keep the limb immobile and seek medical attention. If possible to gain a positive identification of the snake without endangering other people, this will assist the medical officers to provide appropriate treatment.
- The Cassowary with its formidable size and large toenails is quite capable of causing serious damage to humans.
- The male Cassowary is an extremely dedicated parent and won't hesitate to use its powerful legs to defend itself or young.
- If you encounter one try to slip behind a tree or rock.
- If you don't run it will normally walk away from you.
- Don't feed them either, they are a wild animal and feeding them encourages human contact. This can lead to problems in the future if they become dependant on humans for food.
- There are a few plants in the rainforest and the stinging tree (Gympie-Gympie) is definitely one of them.
- It is normally found along tracks and clearings, especially on red soil.
- It has fine poisonous hairs on its heart-shaped leaves that penetrate the skin and cause severe irritation.
- The fine hairs can cause renewed pain up to two months after the initial sting.
- The easiest way to remove the hairs is by using depilatory wax, adhesive tape, or shaving.
- You can also try flooding the area with diluted acid, then washing.
- Sap from some plants can cause skin irritations. It is therefore important not to pull foliage off plants. As well as being damaging to the environment you may get sap on you skin.
- Also known as 'wait-a-while', the lawyer vine is a prickly climbing plant with hook-like spines that attach themselves to anything.
- If you do become caught simply remove to barbs in the opposite direction to which they attached themselves.
- Although they may look tempting, you should resist the temptation to eat rainforest fruits.
- Fruits and seed that are eaten by native birds and animals may be dangerous to humans.
- Probably the most dangerous thing to your health and safety in the rainforest is you.
- By keeping to tracks, avoiding slippery surfaces and fast flowing water you should be able to minimise the danger to yourself.
- Using common sense will also help you to remain safe and enjoy your visit.