Ask an expert
Dr Ronelle Welton at the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit
Why does Australia have so many deadly animals?
Australia has an international reputation for being the epicentre of all things venomous and bitey (see page 26). There are various theories as to why. Some suggest that strong venom increases the chance of getting a meal while minimising energy consumption in Australia’s harsh environments; others say it’s purely coincidence or they question whether it’s instead a problem with perception, and say we don’t really have an unusual abundance of venomous creatures. Injuries and deaths caused by snakes and jellyfish are often sensationalised in the media, but a recent review found that there are very few deaths from ‘deadly’ Australian animals.This is confusing, but Australia also has one of the best healthcare systems – and this may also be a contributing factor to the low numbers of deaths. In short, there is no clear answer at this time.