Australia Deadly 60


Australia

Naturalist Steve Backshall's global search for deadly creatures takes him to meet the saltwater crocodile and search for huge-fanged ghost bats.


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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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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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-HISSES

-Shark!

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We're in Australia's Northern Territories.

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About here.

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There's so many possible animals here

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for the Deadly 60, I don't know where to start!

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This freshwater pool is one of the few places around here

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where I won't run into our first contender for the Deadly 60.

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And it's a good job too, because have a look at this!

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The saltwater crocodile.

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The locals call them "salties".

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Now, I'm going to hold my hand up here

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and say that these things genuinely scare me.

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GROWLS

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They're the world's largest crocodilian,

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growing to more than six metres and weighing over a ton.

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They live in rivers, lakes, and even the sea.

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It's one of the few animals in the world that can, on occasion,

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hunt, kill and eat a human being.

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And if they attack people, they rarely leave survivors.

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This is the skull of an average-sized salty,

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not huge by any standards.

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It's such a hefty mass of bone

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that it takes two hands just to lift it,

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and if I raise the upper jaw,

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and just rest it on my arm using nothing but gravity alone,

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it's thoroughly uncomfortable

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and already putting some pretty nasty dents in my arm.

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The muscles, though, that drive this jaw are so strong

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that they can exert over a ton of pressure

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even for a croc of this size.

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So if my arm was in here,

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it would be as if you had the Deadly 60 truck parked on top of it.

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To get close to one, I've come to visit croc guru Dr Adam Britton.

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He loves them so much that he's got one in his back garden.

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He's been studying them for years and has a specially constructed pool

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so you can study and film their behaviour underwater

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safely, inside a cage.

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And night-time is the time to do it.

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Saltwater crocodiles do the majority of their hunting at night

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so it should be the absolute worst time

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to be going anywhere near them.

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Unless, of course, you want to see them feeding.

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In which case, it's the perfect time.

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'I have to say, I'd rather get in the water with a great white shark

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'than a saltwater crocodile,

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'so I'm very glad that this wire

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'is going to be between me and the croc.'

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I really want more than anything to see it having its dinner,

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so Adam is going to give it a dead chicken right in front of me.

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Oh! That was... That was unbelievable!

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That was one of the most awe-inspiring,

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terrifying things I've ever seen.

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Just out of nowhere,

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kind of green murky water,

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and then just BAM!

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It hit the chicken just like a dinosaur coming out of the dark.

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It was like something out of Jaws.

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Oof.

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Did you all hear me scream underwater? From up here?

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I was just going "Aaaah!"

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Just the size and the power

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and the strength and the speed that that animal moved,

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for a creature that size...

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That is quite something.

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I think we'd better go and try and find one in the wild, boys. Ha!

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So, can wild salties really be deadly?

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This isn't a good sign.

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Crocodiles today, is it?

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In the Northern Territories the rivers are full of big crocodiles.

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The people have learned how to deal with it so it's rarely a problem.

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Every once in a while, though,

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a crocodile starts to associate people with food

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and then that is a problem and it needs to be moved.

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I'm here with local rangers to help them out and also

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to get as close as you can in the wild to a saltwater crocodile.

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'Tonight, we're hunting a particular croc

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'that the rangers know has been taking a bit too much of an interest

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'in some fishermen on the riverbank.

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'But first, a quick lesson in how to catch a crocodile.'

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OK, the snout rope goes through the top jaw.

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Basically, use the end of the...

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The pole, just get it on there,

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and then just nice and firm over the top of the jaw.

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Then we can cut the harpoon line and pull it in with the snout rope.

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Sounds simple in theory, doesn't it?

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We have to find this crocodile,

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because if he's hanging around people for whatever reason,

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there can be no second chances. If he goes for someone,

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it'll be too late.

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Jonathan's going to be in charge of getting hold of the croc

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once we get close, using these prongs,

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which are going to go into the really hard scales

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at the back of the neck of the crocodile.

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That might seem a little bit cruel, but to be honest,

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these creatures are so strong, so hardy,

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that's going to be little more than a pinprick would be to us.

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But it should be enough to draw the croc in close to the boat.

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So we've got one now about 20m across to our left.

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Just there, look.

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Wow.

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And under.

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Not our croc, for sure.

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'After several hours of searching,

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'one of the rangers thinks he's spotted our croc.'

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OK, up here, look. Just go to your right.

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-He's mid-stream there.

-Yeah.

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Can just see him there.

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OK, we'll go back up, mid-stream.

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I think we've got him! I think the harpoon's in.

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He certainly was very close to the boat

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and the line's run out. Yeah.

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He's been snagged.

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-There's line here.

-Yeah, careful.

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Someone grab me a hook down there - Steve?

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Thank you.

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Now the prongs are in the croc

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it's a case of reeling him in almost like he's a big fish.

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Er...try and get him as close as possible.

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Unfortunately there's lots of submerged logs and things here,

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and it looks like he's wrapped the line round one of them.

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So getting him out is going to be tricky.

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OK, Charlie, come up with the light?

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What I'm thinking is that maybe James, our director, should get in

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and unravel the rope from the branch underwater.

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HE LAUGHS

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OK, left a bit.

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'Now, at this point, I have to be honest,

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'I didn't really think this was a very big crocodile.

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'The eyes that I'd seen seemed to be quite close together.

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'But as we brought it in closer,

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'we found out we'd caught our monster.'

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Whoa, he's a good size!

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Bigger than I thought.

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OK, you got a snout rope there?

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Starting to roll...here he comes!

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The croc's rolling.

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This is, er... part of the way it feeds.

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Using...clamping down those massive jaws

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and using its bulk to tear its prey apart,

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but it's also using that now to try and escape the noose.

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You can feel the power of it, it's lifting the boat up and down.

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He's underneath us. He's underneath the boat.

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As if to prove a point, he tries to eat the boat!

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Watch what you're doing with the camera.

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Do you want to get the snout rope on?

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OK, Charlie. Yep.

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-Good job.

-That's it.

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-He's got two on him.

-OK, pull him up.

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GROWLS

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'Trust me, the croc will be absolutely fine tied up here,

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'although he is a bit cross.

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'The important thing is that with his mouth taped up,

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'he can't bite anyone.'

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So this is the problem croc we were hoping to find.

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They've actually been calling him Mr Stinky because you can smell him.

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He's not in amazingly good condition,

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and he has been hanging out in an area with a lot of people

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and picking up scraps,

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and a croc this size could do an awful lot of damage.

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This croc's probably too big to get on to the boat,

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so I think they'll drag him back to the ramp and get him on to dry land,

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and suss out his condition, then work out a plan

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about what we're going to do with this monster.

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'A crocodile that's playing dead takes quite some shifting.'

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Right. So now that he's out of the water,

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even though he has had his major weapon, his jaws,

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taken out of the equation with that hard sticky tape,

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you can really appreciate what it is

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that makes this such an incredibly powerful animal.

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Look at the size of the tail down there!

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Next to Mark the cameraman.

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I mean, that is just packed with muscle,

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and all the way up here there's nothing spare,

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even though this animal really isn't in the best of condition.

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It really is a terrifying-looking creature.

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He's absolutely magnificent.

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As close to a living dragon as you'll ever get.

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When you've got the animal here you can see why it is

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that this croc could become a potential danger.

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I mean, he's been in a fair few fights

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with some other, larger crocs.

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Some of his feet are a bit mangled, he's got some nasty scarring,

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and he's looking a bit thin.

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Obviously not a croc in absolute peak condition,

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and that's why he's turned from his usual prey,

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fish which swim quite fast,

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to picking up scraps and getting too close to people.

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And it's not that much of a leap from where he is now

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to actually taking a person.

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So he's going to be taken now

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and probably live out the rest of his days very happy in captivity.

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But...the size, the strength of this animal here

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is just the tip of the iceberg

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and that's why the saltwater croc has to go on the Deadly 60.

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It does pong as well.

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You might debate some of my choices for the list

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but NOT this one - the salty!

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It has power, speed

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and a bite like a dinosaur.

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An awesome predator and one that can hunt humans.

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Say no more.

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Australia is a HUGE place so to find the wildlife I'll hit the road.

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My next encounter took me completely by surprise.

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I just... I cannot see where I'm going at all.

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You may not expect to find birds of prey attracted to a bushfire

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but that's exactly what was happening in front of our eyes.

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I was going to have to take a closer look at this.

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BUSHFIRE CRACKLES

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Magnificent.

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WOW!

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Check out all these birds!

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INDISTINCT RESPONSE

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That is full on!

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Now don't try this at home.

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One of the most lethal forces in nature is fire.

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Here in the Northern Territories

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where the ground is so dry and all the trees are so dry,

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a wildfire can sweep through an area

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and kill just about everything in its path.

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The air though around here is thick with birds of prey.

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Wow, look at this going up.

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FIRE CRACKLES

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There's... kites and other birds of prey

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swooping around here hoping to find small mammals,

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lizards and insects that have been flushed out by the flames.

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Bushfires have two sides to them, they destroy

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but they also provide an opportunity to daredevil predators -

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in this case whistling kites.

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Insects fleeing the inferno

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were flying straight into the sights

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of these magnificent birds right in front of us.

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There's an even stranger predator that can benefit from bushfires.

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These are frilled lizards -

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dragon-like reptiles that are actually attracted to the aftermath

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of a fire front.

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As the fire cuts through the plants,

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it also cuts through hiding places for the insects.

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And that's what the frilled lizards are here for.

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Right, enough playing with fire - it's time to get back on the road.

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Before my night-time appointment with my next deadly animal

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there's something I want to show you.

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This part of Northern Australia

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has some of the most extraordinary scenery of anywhere in the world.

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And in some places

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it's a bit like wandering through a natural cemetery.

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All these tombstones are not actually rock...

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they have been created by a very remarkable insect.

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This is the work of the magnetic termite.

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There's hundreds of thousands, possible even millions of them

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inside this structure

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and it's been created basically as a way of keeping their colony

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at constant temperatures.

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And if you look this way, along the lines of the termites,

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they're all aligned north to south.

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I'll prove that to you because I've got a compass on my watch.

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And...

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if you look at that -

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that's the line of the termite mound...

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and that is perfectly north to south.

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And what that means is that

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this face of the termite mound is east facing.

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When the sun comes up in the morning

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and when it comes down in the afternoon

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there's not much heat here - it's warming up the mound.

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But when it's directly overhead,

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it's looking straight down on the top of the blade of the mound

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which means that none of the searing heat of midday

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gets into the colony

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and all the insects inside are kept at a nice warm, constant temperature

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throughout the day.

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And all of that is done by an insect

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with a brain the size of a pinprick.

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Mind-blowing!

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The sun's just gone down

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and the creatures of the night are out to hunt.

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And I'm sat outside an old abandoned gold mine

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cos tonight we're on a ghost hunt.

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SCREAMING

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THUNDERCLAP

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The ghost I've come here to find

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makes calls and sounds that are way too high for the human ear to hear.

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CLICKING

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This piece of ghost-busting technology

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can actually hear the ultrasonic frequencies they make.

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So, hopefully, I should be able to hear them before I can see them.

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CLICKING CONTINUES

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GRATING CLICKS

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That's their noise. The first ones are just about to come out now.

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GRATING SQUEAKING CLICKS

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Woah!

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That was our first ghost.

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They're ghost bats...

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one of the most astounding bat predators in the whole world.

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Woah!

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They're starting to come out in larger numbers now.

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Oh, here they go. Oh... Woah!

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I'm not just here because...

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ghost bats look like little spirits in the torchlight -

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these are truly terrifying hunters.

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These are some of the largest carnivorous bats in the world

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but they don't just eat insects.

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Using their fearsome incisor teeth

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they'll bite down through the head and the neck

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of birds, other bats, reptiles, frogs.

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This really is one of the most awesome predators of all bats

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but to see them at their best

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I'm going to have to come back here tomorrow when they're fast asleep.

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Ghost bats hunt at night. It's hard to get close when they're flying.

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Your best chance is during the day when they are resting.

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And Damian here...

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..has assured me there's a colony of ghost bats inside this disused mine.

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I have got a camera which is going to be following me all the way.

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Where the big camera can't go, you will be able to see what I'm doing.

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-Shall we head in, Damian?

-Yep.

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I am a little bit scared of the dark. Sssh!

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This is an abandoned goldmine

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and as if the bats themselves weren't spooky enough.

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This place is just...well, freaky.

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Oh, yuk!

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Oh, this is hideous and it smells horrendous.

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Oh, I hate cockroaches.

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They are here because of the bats.

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They will be feeding on bat droppings

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which already is starting to make up a good proportion of the floor.

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Steve, you can hear the bats down the mine shaft they are flying around.

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So from this point on, we'll have absolute quiet.

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If we must speak, we'll just have an absolute whisper.

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OK, fine but Mark is a bit loud!

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(He's got very big feet!)

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THEY WHISPER

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We have just turned our lights out for a second.

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Let the bats settle down so they're not freaked out.

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I'm a bit less worried about them being freaked out than me.

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This place is "Spook Central"!

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When you are ready, shine your light up there.

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We have just come into a small chamber and

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the smell of bat is very strong in here.

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Now, we really don't want to disturb this colony too much.

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So we are just going to turn the lights on for a short time

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-and get our first proper glimpse of the ghost bat. Are you ready?

-Yeah.

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Whoa!

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Whoa! Through there.

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Here they come.

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'It's impossible to keep your nerve

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'when you're being dive-bombed by bats.'

0:22:570:23:01

(They are absolutely huge!)

0:23:010:23:04

When they hit the torchlight, you can see where they get their name.

0:23:100:23:14

The membrane of the wings is really thin. It's almost transparent.

0:23:140:23:19

The body is very light - almost white on the underside.

0:23:190:23:24

They really do look like your idea of a vampire bat.

0:23:240:23:29

Oh, wow!

0:23:300:23:33

'I really want to get a close look at one.

0:23:330:23:36

'Damian, takes us to a spot in the cave where the tunnel narrows

0:23:360:23:40

'and I may have a chance to net one.

0:23:400:23:42

'The crew aren't so keen though.'

0:23:420:23:45

(Out of all the places Steve has brought us to, this is the scariest

0:23:460:23:54

(I have ever been. I don't like bats!)

0:23:540:24:00

SHOUTING AND GROANING

0:24:020:24:08

Ah!

0:24:090:24:10

-What happened there?

-A bat flew straight into us.

0:24:100:24:15

Down this way here is a huge hole in the floor beneath us,

0:24:150:24:19

so we have to be careful walking over this bit here.

0:24:190:24:23

It's really dangerous.

0:24:230:24:25

Here they come!

0:24:330:24:35

-Got it! Got one.

-Got one?

-Yeah, I got one.

0:24:360:24:41

Oh, no.

0:24:440:24:46

That is THE most remarkable-looking bat I have ever seen.

0:24:460:24:52

We are going to get bombarded by his cousins while we are doing this.

0:24:560:25:00

I just need to unpick him from the net very carefully.

0:25:000:25:04

The membranes of the wings can be quite fragile.

0:25:040:25:08

I mean, quite a lot of bats

0:25:080:25:11

of this size, I'd expect to be trying to eat through my arm.

0:25:110:25:15

The first thing I have to say is that I have a unique opportunity to

0:25:170:25:22

get this close to a ghost bat.

0:25:220:25:24

This isn't something anyone should go around doing.

0:25:240:25:28

When you are up close to it, you can see where it gets its name from.

0:25:280:25:32

He does look like a little phantom.

0:25:320:25:35

That abnormally pale grey, almost white fur there on the body is

0:25:350:25:42

what makes him appear so ghost-like.

0:25:420:25:44

Look at that, it's incredibly thin, isn't it?

0:25:470:25:50

Almost like some kind of weird skin kite.

0:25:500:25:54

That is another thing which lends to his ghostly image is

0:25:540:25:59

the fact that that membrane just looks like a ghostly cloak.

0:25:590:26:04

And these - the struts in between the membrane,

0:26:070:26:12

those are fingers and hand bones.

0:26:120:26:16

I want to show you these teeth because they are really mean.

0:26:160:26:20

Look at those incisors there!

0:26:200:26:23

If I can show you the bottom jaw as well, look at those.

0:26:230:26:29

-I can't believe you're not getting bitten when you do that.

-I know.

0:26:290:26:33

That is a set of gnashers!

0:26:330:26:36

Teeth like that are what allow this remarkable creature to feed

0:26:360:26:40

not only on insects but on lizards, frogs, other bats,

0:26:400:26:45

birds, small mammals.

0:26:450:26:48

He really is a flying nightmare.

0:26:480:26:51

And that is why the ghost bat is going on my Deadly 60.

0:26:510:26:57

Ghost bats - they hunt with the stealth of ghosts

0:26:590:27:02

and kill like storybook vampires.

0:27:020:27:05

If you are a mouse, a frog or a lizard or another bat,

0:27:050:27:08

they are a living nightmare.

0:27:080:27:11

-There he goes.

-Great stuff.

0:27:160:27:20

-Can we get out of here now, please?

-Yes, definitely.

0:27:210:27:26

Whoa-hoo-ho!

0:27:290:27:31

-GROWLING

-I'm glad I'm not in there.

0:27:310:27:34

'Join me next time, as I continue my search for the Deadly 60.'

0:27:340:27:38

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:410:27:44

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:440:27:47

Wildlife expert Steve Backshall meets one of the planet's ultimate killers, the saltwater crocodile, as the Deadly 60 team land in Australia's Northern Territories. A rogue croc is terrorising local fisherman, so it is time to lend the park rangers a hand in catching and relocating this prehistoric monster. Steve heads deep into an abandoned mine on a ghost hunt. He is on the search for ghost bats, awesome creatures with huge fangs, that drop on to their prey out of the night sky. Scary stuff, and a first for the Deadly team as these bats have never been filmed in the wild before.


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