Malaysia Deadly 60


Malaysia

Naturalist Steve Backshall's search for deadly creatures takes him to Borneo's Gomantong caves where thousands of cockroaches and the scutigera centipede await.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall.

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You can call me Steve.

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I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60.

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That's 60 deadly creatures.

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I'm travelling all over the world.

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And you're coming with me every step of the way.

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Shark!

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There's nowhere in the world better to go looking for wildlife

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than the tropical rainforests. And we're in one of the best on earth...

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Borneo.

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And I'll give you three guesses why they call it the rainforest.

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It may well be wet but it's also hot.

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And that's what makes Borneo's tropical rainforest

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so amazing for wildlife.

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And I'm here with my crew. James, Johnny, Rosie, Nick

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and our guide Eric.

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And we're on the search for animals to add to our Deadly 60 list.

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Inland from here are some of the planet's creepiest creatures.

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And to find them we're headed deep into the forest using the rivers -

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the forest's natural highways.

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So, for us, taking a boat down these little rivers

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is the absolute best way to come into contact with animals.

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'Along the way we're hoping to see other contenders for the list.

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'We've not been journeying long when we see not a deadly,

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'but an iconic animal.'

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Ah, oh!

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The old man of the forest -

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the orang-utan.

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Despite the orang-utan being the most famous animal in Borneo,

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to actually see one like this totally genuinely in the wild

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is really very unusual.

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And particularly a big fully grown male like this.

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You can tell he's a male because the face is very broad and flattened.

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Looks almost like he's run full speed into a milk truck.

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And apparently females find that very attractive.

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Great stuff but things are about to get tougher

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as we leave the relative comfort of the boat

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and head into the forest on foot.

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My rucksack is so heavy, hey?

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We're travelling to a cave system we've been told is the home

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to some truly deadly predators.

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On the way we pick up some friends that want to have us for dinner.

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Only we're on the menu.

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It's a very common creature round here,

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which sucks the blood of just about anything it can get a hold of.

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And I absolutely hate them.

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'It's a tiger leach.

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'They'll wait in positions just like this

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'for something warm blooded to wander past.

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'And then they'll drop off and get stuck in to a nice blood meal.'

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They sense the warmth of our bodies

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and also the carbon dioxide we breathe out.

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Watch this.

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You can see him start to move towards the source

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of the carbon dioxide, which is me.

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And the blood meal I've got inside of me.

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They are absolutely hideous.

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Look, see him start to walk?

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Yup, there you go.

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Now, I want to do a little bit of a scientific experiment here.

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There's six of us here.

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We're going to wander through the forest for about ten minutes

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and see how many of these little beauties we can pick up.

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Come on, guys. I mean, at least...

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at least do a little bit. Roll your trousers up or something. Come on.

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Pale English legs here.

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-Come on, Nick.

-What about you?

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-Only joking.

-Right, let's go get them.

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'This is going to be a real test for the crew.

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'Are they tough enough for the jungle trek

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'and for what lies ahead?'

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I hate them. They're horrible.

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-Does it hurt?

-Ah, Steve's got one on his leg.

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I'm a little concerned about how far this one's going up.

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It's prowling around your neck at the moment.

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This one's pretty impressive.

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I'm getting quite attached to it.

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Oh, no.

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-That is just disgusting.

-This is a health warning.

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The following scene could seriously put you off your tea.

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I've got two on my nipple.

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Oh, they're horrible.

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He's drinking, man. He's properly drinking.

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THEY LAUGH

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I can hear it looking.

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So, me and the crew have all got a good covering

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of these disgusting leeches.

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But there's one question I know you're dying to ask.

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How do you get rid of them?

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The best way to get rid of them is to take a finger nail or a knife.

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And just scrape beneath the head.

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And they should just come off like that

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without leaving any of their mouth parts behind.

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The other alternative

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is just to leave them until they're full and they fall off.

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But not many people have got the guts to do that.

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OK, my crew have proved that they're tough enough.

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And they're going to need to be for what's coming next.

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'This is Gomantong Cave,

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'one of the world's largest cave systems.

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'In the daytime the skies around the caves are full of birds

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'called swifts. By night the birds give way

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'to a truly awesome predator.'

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The next animal we're looking for is one that people all over the world

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are absolutely terrified of,

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which is crazy because they don't do us any harm whatsoever.

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But they are one of the world's greatest predators of insects.

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They're bats.

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In this cave there's around two million of them.

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I'm going to go see if I can get a closer look.

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'Bats are nocturnal hunters, so right now they're roosting,

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'which means that I have to wait for nightfall.'

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Living in this part of the world, you would not want to be an insect.

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Every one of these bats is equipped with an echo location system.

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It's very much like a sonar on a submarine.

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You've probably seen it in movies.

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You hear a sound - bop!

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Which disappears off into the distance.

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And it bounces back off objects that are in front of it.

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In a bat that click can reverberate off the smallest of insects.

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Even something as small as a midge.

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And the sound pattern that comes back tells the bat

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exactly where it is and then bam!

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The bat catches the insect.

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Every one of the bats that lives in this cave

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can catch its entire bodyweight in insects in one night.

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'Now, that's so incredible I'm going to have to say that again.'

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Every one of the bats that lives in this cave

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can catch its entire bodyweight in insects in one night.

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Eating your own bodyweight in insects?

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That's like you eating thousands of burgers every night.

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So bats are fantastic insect predators

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but there's something else that's remarkable

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about the way bats are put together.

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'You see it all around you in this cave.

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'When they're not flying,

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'bats generally rest high up and hanging down.

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'When they want to fly again they simply let go and accelerate

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'quickly, allowing them to get into their flying position easily.'

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Now, I'm a mammal just like a bat.

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So, let's see how long I can hang on for.

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I can't quite believe I'm doing this.

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Right. OK.

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So I'm hanging on using muscle power.

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And beneath me at the moment...

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well, it's about 90 metres down to the floor of the cave,

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which is a long way.

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I've been hanging on for not long,

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probably 15, 20 seconds

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and already

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this steel wire's cutting into my fingers.

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Bit frightened

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by quite how far down it is at the moment.

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Now, bats can do this

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for a very, very long time.

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They don't use their muscles like I'm doing.

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Instead they switch on their talons

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or their claws.

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'Bats' ligaments and muscles work differently to ours.

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'If you relax your hand, it will fall open.

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'When a bat relaxes its claws it does the opposite, and clenches up.

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'So even when asleep they're in no danger of letting go

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'and they can hang on for hours.

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'Whilst, me, on the other hand...'

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I think I'm about to go... ah!

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Whoa.

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Phew!

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That is a very long way down.

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Being as we proved that I can't hang out for hours on end,

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I've got myself this contraption.

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It's called a port-a-ledge.

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So I'm just going to clamber into this and wait for the show to start.

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Ah! Now all I need to do is sit here and wait for the bats.

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As the sun goes down, the night shift is about to start.

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Look at this.

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It's just bat crazy.

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They're mostly wrinkle-lipped bats,

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which are a very peculiar-looking creature up close.

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There's absolutely thousands of them.

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And the noise in here is just raising by the second.

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You can probably hear it roaring behind us.

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Usually this time of the early evening is when you start to slap on

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the mozzy repellent because there are so many bugs around.

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But up here we haven't been bitten once.

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We are just surrounded by insect-eating machines.

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All these bats now are starting to gather in these caverns

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and pretty soon they're going to head out

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in great long spiralling flocks

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to go and feast on the insects around here.

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This is incredible!

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I have never seen so many bats in my entire life.

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'With well over two million ravenous bats,

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'it takes them a full hour to leave the cave.

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'Once in the open they make a defensive formation,

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'creating a huge black pulsating cloud.

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'And when they reach a critical size,

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'they head to the rain forest

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'to gorge themselves on billions and billions of insects.'

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Every flying insect for miles around here

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is going to be in big trouble tonight.

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And that's why wrinkle-lipped bats are going on the Deadly 60.

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Lightning fast and agile, as well as having incredible echo location,

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bats are some of the most fearsome aerial predators on the planet.

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Definitely on my Deadly 60.

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'So we know Gomantong Cave is home to millions and millions of bats

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'and swifts. But the cave floor is also teaming with wildlife.

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'The only problem is it's 100 metres below me.

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'I' d better get my climbing gear on.

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'Oh, and if you don't like heights

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'and creepy crawlies, you'd better look away...now.'

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'Good to go, Steve.

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'We're good to go. Over?'

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Wow, what a place!

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Look at that.

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The air is just thick with swifts.

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This would have to be one of the most beautiful places

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I've ever seen.

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This is incredible.

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They're tiny little swifts, just flying up into their nests.

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They seem totally unafraid of me.

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They're no more than a metre away from where I'm hanging.

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Yet they're just dropping into their nests

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right in front of me.

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Now, some of these nests have got eggs in them.

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Little eggs, about the size of a peanut.

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Look at that one there.

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'It's truly extraordinary seeing the bats

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'and swifts 100 metres up on a rope.

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'But I can't wait to see the cave floor.'

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Up in the roof of the cave

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with the bats and the birds circling around you,

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it's kind of like paradise.

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But all those birds and two million bats create an awful lot of poo.

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And that falls down here, on the cave floor.

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So, if up there's heaven then down is a kind of hell.

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But there are some deadly creatures that absolutely love it.

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It smells incredibly strong. And in fact anyone that

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works in this cave for too long has to wear protective clothing.

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Which explains why my crew

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are all dressed like weird Oompa-loompas.

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'The crew have been working down here much longer than me.

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'That's why they're wearing the suits and I'm not.'

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And this big hill

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that I'm walking up here isn't actually a hill at all.

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See, all those creatures up there

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obviously have to go to the toilet sometime.

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And over hundreds of years, it's built up into this gigantic

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pile of what's called guano.

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'Yup, if you haven't already guessed it,

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'I'm standing on the world's largest pile of poo.

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'And it stinks!'

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If you look over the other side,

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you can see the ground seems to be moving.

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It's almost like there's thousands of little jewels.

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The reason the floor appears to be moving

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is that it's absolutely covered with cockroaches.

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I have never seen anything so disgusting in my entire life.

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Every single square inch of ground is covered in these creatures.

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Now, cockroaches are absolutely amazing animals.

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They are some of the world's greatest survivors.

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Cockroaches it's said can live for over a week without their heads.

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They really are some of the greatest developed insects in the world.

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But at the same time they're also absolutely hideous.

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Here in this cave

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all of this wonderful dung is perfect food for them.

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And there's something else here

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that's even better food for cockroaches.

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Occasionally some of the bats and birds don't make it.

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And they fall down to the cave floor and become food for the cockroaches.

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These here are actually flesh eating bugs.

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This possibly is one of the nastiest places on the planet.

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But there's another creature here

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which actually eats these cockroaches for breakfast.

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And it's them that we're here to find.

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'But to find this cockroach killer,

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'I'm going to have to descend even further into the darkness

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'of the cave system below.

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'This place is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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'And it looks like my next critter has already had its breakfast.'

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Of all of the horrors that live

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in this absolutely nightmarish place,

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down here is perhaps the most frightening.

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And it's the animal that I'm suggesting for the Deadly 60.

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Oh, crumbs! I have to say I absolutely hate them.

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There you go. Ah! Ha! Ha!

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That one just ran over my hand.

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-OK, right. I'm going to be more gutsy this time.

-Careful.

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There's one other side of that rock.

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This is scutigera or the long-legged centipede.

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I think there's another one on the other side of the rock as well.

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So I'm being very careful about how I handle this.

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It is quite venomous.

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One of the guys living in the area was bitten

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by one of these centipedes not so long ago

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and spent a week in hospital

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so I'm taking care not to get bitten.

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They actually have like most centipedes...

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Ah! It just ran over my arm.

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Sounds obvious but one of the main challenges, of living in a cave,

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is the dark. And the fact that you can't actually see anything.

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Scutigera still manages to be an incredible hunter

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by using its long legs.

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You can see as it moves, it'll just stop

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and tap some of those legs over the rock's surface.

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What it's doing is using each and every one of those feet

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to feel everything about the surface it's moving on.

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Building up a real mental picture of its environment.

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And if there's anything there that it might be able to eat.

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'It can grow as long as my forearm, has a mightily venomous bite,

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'and with those long legs, there's nothing down here

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'that can escape it.'

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And nothing that's more guaranteed to give you nightmares.

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So scutigera is going on the Deadly 60.

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And I'm going somewhere else.

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A truly terrifying cave predator.

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Venomous, creepily quick and one of the most frightening creatures

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I've seen on the Deadly 60.

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'It's an unbelievable relief

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'for the team to be back in the fresh forest air

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'and searching for the next animal on my list.

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'I'm after a reticulated python, the world's longest snake,

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'and one that could probably kill me and then swallow me whole.'

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The reticulated python is an ambush predator.

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So it lies in wait for its prey to get too close and bang!

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Like a flying lasso, it ensnares its victim

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in enough coils to constrict it,

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stopping it breathing before it smothers them with its huge jaws

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and devours it whole.

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Grisly!

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It's a common misconception that in the jungle every single branch

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of every single tree is dripping with snakes.

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Much as I wish that was true, unfortunately it isn't.

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The particular snake we're looking for here is the largest

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in the world. But that doesn't mean it's any easier to find.

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In fact, its whole hunting strategy revolves around it staying hidden.

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We could be in for quite a tough time.

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'We've spotted our first snake. It's not a reticulated python

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'but it's an absolute beauty.

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'So I'll try and give you a closer look.

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'But that might not be as easy as it sounds.'

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And... Yeah, good catch, James.

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THEY LAUGH

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Look at the speed of that!

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'If at first you don't succeed, try...'

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I'm going to get this...

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'Try again.'

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Yes! Well done.

0:21:560:22:00

That is what I call a team effort.

0:22:000:22:03

Good job, James.

0:22:030:22:05

Just keep him down in the... See if I can pin the head.

0:22:050:22:08

Ah, this is the mangrove cat snake and it gets its name from the eyes.

0:22:130:22:21

There's a slit which runs right down the middle of the eye,

0:22:210:22:24

just exactly like you'd see on a cat.

0:22:240:22:26

Look at the tongue going absolutely berserk.

0:22:260:22:30

It's because in this situation there's so much going on

0:22:300:22:33

this snake wants to find out.

0:22:330:22:34

And it's primary method of doing that is its tongue.

0:22:340:22:36

It's tasting, smelling everything that's going on around us.

0:22:360:22:40

Probably smelling Johnny, smelling my sweat.

0:22:400:22:43

The snake's tongue is definitely its primary method of finding out

0:22:430:22:47

what's going on in the world around it.

0:22:470:22:49

And I think it should go back in its tree.

0:22:490:22:52

The mangrove cat snake is a truly beautiful snake,

0:22:520:22:55

but not in the same league as the reticulated python.

0:22:550:22:59

So it's back to the search and back in the boat.

0:22:590:23:02

'We search and we search.

0:23:090:23:12

'And in the end we ask the locals for some help.'

0:23:140:23:18

Excuse me, I was wondering if you could tell me

0:23:180:23:21

where I could find a big snake? Whoa!

0:23:210:23:24

Hello there, mate.

0:23:240:23:25

I think that means go away.

0:23:270:23:30

'So we head off again.

0:23:300:23:32

'And we look and we look. But we start to run out of time.

0:23:320:23:37

'And realise that maybe we're not going to see

0:23:370:23:39

'one of these incredible snakes in the wild.

0:23:390:23:42

'But we do have a trick up our sleeve.'

0:23:440:23:46

Right. Well, I know Deadly 60 is about wild animals.

0:23:460:23:49

But you cannot say we didn't try and find our big snake in the wild.

0:23:490:23:53

It just didn't happen. Luckily though, Eric, our guide,

0:23:530:23:56

knows someone who does have exactly the snake we've been looking for.

0:23:560:24:00

And I've heard that it's quite a big one. So let's have a look.

0:24:000:24:04

-Hi, Steve.

-Hi, hi, how you doing?

0:24:040:24:05

Hello, hello. Hey, Eric.

0:24:050:24:08

Can I, can I take it out?

0:24:080:24:11

OK, let's have a look.

0:24:110:24:13

Ah, yeah, that is a big snake.

0:24:150:24:18

That is a very big snake.

0:24:180:24:19

Is it OK for me to take out?

0:24:190:24:22

So, this is a big reticulated python

0:24:230:24:27

and he really is big.

0:24:270:24:34

Crumbs, that's heavy!

0:24:340:24:36

That's really heavy.

0:24:360:24:38

OK, right.

0:24:380:24:40

Reticulated python is the longest snake in the world.

0:24:400:24:43

Believe it or not, the anaconda

0:24:430:24:45

from South America can get larger and heavier...

0:24:450:24:48

A heavier body than this.

0:24:480:24:50

But in terms of pure length, the reticulated python has it.

0:24:500:24:54

I have to say,

0:24:540:24:56

this is the thickest heaviest-bodied retic' I've ever seen.

0:24:560:24:59

'So what does "reticulated" actually mean?

0:24:590:25:02

'Well, reticulated means netted

0:25:020:25:05

'and it refers to the snake's blocky diamond-shaped pattern.

0:25:050:25:08

'Which is part of its camouflage.'

0:25:080:25:10

Crikey!

0:25:100:25:12

I tell you what, it's a good job it's quite tame, isn't it?

0:25:120:25:15

If this was snappy, I wouldn't be quite so keen

0:25:150:25:17

to be handling it like this. Do I need to worry

0:25:170:25:19

-when its head starts heading towards me like that.

-No.

-No?

0:25:190:25:23

-He's getting used to you.

-Yeah.

0:25:230:25:24

So this snake's been held in captivity for about 15 years.

0:25:240:25:28

So it's not very aggressive. Believe me,

0:25:280:25:31

I would not be handling it like this if this was wild snake.

0:25:310:25:34

This is a reticulated python

0:25:340:25:36

I found a few years ago, living under a bridge in a village.

0:25:360:25:39

The locals asked me to take it back to the forest,

0:25:390:25:42

as it had been eating their chickens.

0:25:420:25:44

This one was only about eight feet long, but was incredibly aggressive.

0:25:440:25:49

Normally they eat wild boar, pigs and birds.

0:25:540:25:58

But they are confirmed people killers. So, naturally,

0:25:580:26:01

the locals were worried that it could eat their children.

0:26:010:26:04

This one was killed several years ago by villagers

0:26:040:26:08

who thought it had done exactly that.

0:26:080:26:10

But when they looked inside it was fortunately a wild boar.

0:26:100:26:16

The reticulated python can get to be actually much bigger than this.

0:26:160:26:21

The longest recorded specimen was about 28 feet. This one's about 20.

0:26:210:26:26

So it would be an extra me plus a bit more.

0:26:260:26:30

And I have to say this isn't even constricting me.

0:26:300:26:34

But just the pure weight and power of it. Look at that on my leg.

0:26:340:26:38

This is how the reticulated python kills its prey,

0:26:380:26:41

by wrapping some coils around the animal

0:26:410:26:43

and as it breathes out the retic' just clenches a little bit more.

0:26:430:26:47

And every time the animal breathes out it clenches more and more

0:26:470:26:51

until eventually there is just no lung space left

0:26:510:26:54

and the animal suffocates.

0:26:540:26:55

Looking at this wondrous, monstrous snake,

0:26:570:27:02

the longest snake in the world, there is absolutely no doubt

0:27:020:27:07

that the reticulated python has got to go on the Deadly 60.

0:27:070:27:11

Awesome!

0:27:130:27:15

Huge they may be but it's the super fast lasso attack

0:27:180:27:23

and its lethal squeeze that gets it on the Deadly 60.

0:27:230:27:28

Now, that's a big snake.

0:27:360:27:39

Deadly 60!

0:27:410:27:43

Join me next time when I continue my quest

0:27:450:27:48

to find the Deadly 60.

0:27:480:27:51

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:010:28:04

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:040:28:07

Steve Backshall abseils into the darkness of the incredible Gomantong cave system.

Here, he encounters thousands of cockroaches and one of the scariest creepy-crawlies to go on the Deadly 60 list, the scutigera centipede. Thousands of wrinkle-lipped bats call this cave their home. In order to show how amazing they are, Steve hangs like a bat from the cave ceiling. It is a truly awesome sight as the bats leave the cave in their thousands to hunt for bugs in the night sky.

Steve also scours the waterways of the Borneo jungle for a reticulated python, and the team get munched on by tiger leeches. Not an episode for the faint-hearted.


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