The venomous 10 – Australia’s most painful creatures, rated by the guy who knows [ONE] Box jellyfish | Sting description: Fry describes a box jellyfish sting as “like being wiped with acid”. The burning pain is so intense that it can put people into shock. There is a risk that the shock can cause death, rather than the venom. “You can be in so much pain the the body just goes ‘so long and thanks for the fish’,” Fry says. Survivors can experience considerable pain for weeks. Range: Box jellyfish are found in the warm coastal waters off northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific.
[TWO] Stonefish | Sting description: The pain reaches extreme levels within seconds and can be so intense it makes you want to vomit, Fry says. The pain can put the body into shock, while the venom can lead to cardiovascular collapse.Range: Northern Australia and parts of the Indo-Pacific.
[THREE] Stingray | Sting description: The jagged tear of the puncture wound is the least of your worries. That’s “just a flesh wound”, according to Fry’s first hand experience. It’s the venom that causes the mind blowing pain. “It should be called a ‘give-me-a-gun-and-I’ll-shoot-myself-ray’,” he says.Range: There are about 50 species of rays in Australian waters. Most species are found on the seabed or on sandy or muddy substrate. A few live higher in the water column, in open waters.
[FOUR] Jack Jumper ants and bull ants | Sting description: Intense, localised pain. Fry says it feels like being stung by 200 bees simultaneously. Though he does point out that when he was bitten, it was on his left nipple – a super-sensitive spot. Range: Jack Jumper ants are most commonly found in Tasmania and southeast Australia, while bull ants are found throughout Australia.
[FIVE] Platypus | Sting description: A rare sting for humans to encounter but it is known to be immediate and long-lasting. The hollow spurs that deliver the venom are plunged so deep, a human would have to remove them by hand. The venom can paralyse the limbs of another platypus and seriously drop the victim’s blood pressure. Males use their spurs when fighting in the lead-up to mating season. “It’s an excellent example of male stupidity,” Fry says. “Two males go at each other and stab each other with this intensely painful spur spiked with venom. The female is probably watching form the sidelines and thinking ‘great, we’re going to go extinct’.” Range: The platypus is found in the rivers, streams and bodies of freshwater in eastern Queensland and New South Wales, eastern, central and southwestern Victoria and throughout Tasmania.
[SIX] Irukandji jellyfish | Sting description: Delayed, creeping pain builds to full-body agony with accompanying headaches, nausea, vomiting and sweating. There is an unusual psychological effect too: victims report experiencing an acute sense of impending doom. Range: Once thought only found in the northern waters of Australia, Irukandji have been found in waters as far north as the British Isles, Japan, Malaysia and the Florida coast of the United States.
[SEVEN] Redback spider | Bite description: You know that joke about ‘how do you know if there is a red back in the outdoor dunny? Because of the screams’? There is a reason why people scream so loud. The pain from this spider bite can become severe and lead to sweats, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting. The venom acts directly on the nerves. But only the female bite is dangerous. Range: Redback spiders are found throughout Australia and are common in disturbed and urban areas.
[EIGHT] Yellow-faced whip snake | Bite description: Unusually painful for an Australian snake, the whip snake bite can be agonisingly painful and produces localised swelling, which isn’t typical of Australian snakes. Range: The yellow-faced whip snake is common throughout most of Australia, from coastal areas to the arid interior.
[NINE] Crown of thorns starfish | Sting description: Fry describes the crown of thorns starfish sting as “just straightforward pain”. But pain nonetheless. Range: Native to coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, this starfish is on the move, expanding its range and population as sea temperatures rise.
[TEN] Fire urchin | Sting description: The burning sensation at the site of the sting makes you catch your breath. Range: The fire urchin is found in the sand, shingle or coral rubble of lagoons and bays of the tropical Indo-Pacific. Photo: National Geographic
TweetFacebook FLICK THROUGH THE GALLERY for the venomous 10The stingray? Yep,Bryan Fryknows it well. He’s been stung multiple times. Though, speaking from experience, he suggests its name underplays the extreme pain a sting can cause.
“It should be called a ‘give-me-a-gun-and-I’ll-shoot-myself-ray’,” the veteran venom researcher says.
Not so the Australian death adder. Its venom leads to an almost out-of-body experience with a sense of euphoria overpowering any fear from the fact that the death adder’s bite can leave you paralysed.In Fry’s case, full-body paralysis put him in hospitalised and on a respirator for eight hours.
Bryan Fry rates the sting of the box jellyfish as the worst Australian wildlife has to offer. Photo: Supplied
So if you want the bites and stings of Australian wildlife rated on a pain scale, Bryan Fry’s your guy.
TheQueensland University venomologisthas been bitten more times than he can count. All in the name of science. He estimates 27 venomous snakes have plunged their fangs into his flesh.
His exposure to snake venom in the laboratory has been so high that he has developed allergies and now has to avoid it. Even breathing fumes from venom that has been freeze-dried and powdered for long-term storage will bring on the sneezes. Being bitten could bring on full-scale anaphylactic shock.