Eek! The Australian Huntsman.
Over the last few months, I have managed to convince myself that there really aren’t an abundance of spiders and snakes here. Having heard from abroad about the proliferance (proliferance [proh-li-fer-ants]: derivative of prolific, meaning in abundance – I really wish that were a word; it makes sense to me) of creepy crawlies in Australia, the vast majority of which are poisonous, they have remained in the back of my mind constantly. I used to check under the toilet seat (a common hang-out for spiders) every time. Going for hikes, I would stomp loudly to scare away the snakes. And I would never, ever grab on to a tree for support before scouring it for creatures that have it in for me.
But having been here for almost four full months now, and having seen only one snake (from a distance), and only a few spiders, all of which were small and far away enough to ignore, I have become complacent.
Sure – the winter season in the southern half of Australia means the snakes are hiding and the spiders are sluggish. But that didn’t matter. Between seeing native Australians’ general nonchalance towards sharing their homes with poisonous creatures, and the lack of seeing any myself, I had truly convinced myself that they wouldn’t actually be IN our home, if they even exist at all.
Apparently there are two things that tend to happen when rain is coming: 1) the kookaburras sing – a delight guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and 2) the huntsmen come out.
And by “huntsmen”, I’m not talking about guys dressed in cammo looking for wildlife to shoot.
A few years ago, a friend relayed a personal experience to me of his own travels through Australia and his first encounter with a huntsman. It climaxed in a face-off between my friend with a cleaver in his hand, and the dinner-plate sized spider sitting a mere inches from his face. The spider won.
And now, I get it.
Although the Australian huntsman we encountered sitting placidly on our microwave clock is apparently small in comparison to some of his larger brethren, I am truly hoping not to meet them. The mere fact that this creature likely lives (sorry, lived) in some dark corner of our home is unsettling enough to cause me to lose some sleep. The fact that the huntsman is harmless and that there are other spiders – spiders which can pack a punch – is enough to make me not want to sleep again. Ever.
I simply have to continue to remind myself that people live here. They have lived here for ages. And I don’t know anybody (or even know anybody who knows anybody) who has been killed by them.