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Welcome to my Nightmares of Nature.
I'm Naomi Wilkinson,
and I'm coming face to face with the nightmares of the animal world.
The ones that make your spine tingle.
Your heart beat faster.
And your blood run cold.
What's that noise?
Are they truly terrifying?
Or is there a twist in the tail?
Come with me as I shine a light on wildlife's deepest, darkest secrets.
And see if you can guess which will be my worst nightmare.
We're in Australia!
In the red centre.
It's a classic desert landscape.
Sand, sun, soaring temperatures,
and wherever you get extreme environments,
you get extreme animals,
which means this is the perfect place for me
to go looking for some nightmares of nature!
Our Aussie adventure will take us from the remote town
of Alice Springs out into the blistering heat of the desert.
Along the way, we'll be checking out the nightmare credentials
of the nation's most famous resident...
..hunting down a prehistoric monster...
..and braving the deep desert for a scary sleepover!
But first I have a date with an unwanted urban invader.
The desert surrounding Alice Springs is home to some of the most venomous
and dangerous creatures on earth.
I'm talking about snakes!
And during the summer, some of those snakes head into town
in search of shelter.
So the people who live round here need to be on the lookout
for nightmare house guests!
But what do you do if you find a snake in your back garden?
Well, you call for help. You call for this man.
This is Justin. Hi, Justin.
Justin is a member of the emergency snake call-out team.
You're going to introduce me to some of the snakes
that you've caught right here in town.
Yeah, so this guy here is one of our Stimson's pythons,
a very common little snake.
-And is he safe?
-He's very safe.
These guys are nice and relaxed.
So pythons, on the whole, aren't dangerous?
No, no venom in pythons at all.
We're not on their menu, so you're quite safe.
And is this the sort of size that they grow?
No, that's a small one.
We do get these.
A couple of metres of python.
This is one of our Centralian carpet pythons.
Is this as big as they can grow?
-They'll get a little bit bigger than this. This is a healthy size.
But as you can imagine, going out to the back porch
and this thing's hanging off your veranda.
Yeah! That would give you a fright.
There's not a spot in the house that they don't get.
Lounge rooms, bathrooms.
We've had them curled up in shower recesses,
we've pulled out about 20 of those out of toilets!
So people would go to sit on the toilet and find one of these?
Yeah, so it's rather funny watching them run out
with their pants down sort of thing, so...
So, pythons aren't generally dangerous to humans.
No, not at all.
But you do come across other ones that are.
Yeah, oh, absolutely.
We get plenty of highly venomous snakes in Alice, as well.
'And that means I won't be getting too close
'to Justin's next garden guest.'
Righty-oh. This is one of our common brown snakes,
so this is the second most venomous snake in the world.
A couple of milligrams of his venom is enough to kill an adult.
So this is a really dangerous snake.
They're actually a little bit nervous, more than anything else.
I don't think he's as nervous as I am.
Why do these snakes come into town?
Generally, its because of food, so like during summer,
if we have a long, hot, dry summer where there's obviously
no rainfall around, the food's going to start coming into town
following the water source.
So, of course, our snakes here, they're following the food.
And if you find a snake what should you do?
The most important thing is just to leave the snake alone
and all you need to do is give us a buzz and we'll come and do the rest.
From his base in centre of town,
Justin is on standby 24 hours a day, ready to remove any unwanted guests.
And as soon as the next call comes, it's action stations.
Call! Call! Call, call. Let's go, let's go, there's a call.
Is it far away?
Just out of town a little bit.
'A rapid response requires a high-tech, high-speed,
Pop in, Scott.
'It could do with a little more leg room in the back, though.'
Get in and see what we've got to deal with.
I'm staying so close to you!
'Today's lucky customers are the Armistead family.'
Hey guys, what have we got here? Look at that. There we go.
Where, where, where?
One of my real mates.
'All snakes can swim and this highly venomous Western Brown
'has decided to take a cooling dip in the Armisteads' pool.'
Did you find him?
No, my dad did.
So what's it like living in a neighbourhood
-where there are venomous snakes?
-It's exciting, it's good!
-You don't mind it?
-No, not at all.
Justin's been out here several times, picking up similar sort of snakes.
So you're pretty used to seeing big snakes.
It's not a problem for you at all?
Not really. Nah.
Where am I best to stand?
You can stand there, you can come in.
Well, I just want to be where I'm safe.
-You can hold the bag if you want.
-No, I don't want to.
-You don't want to hold the bag?
-Is it safe?
-Yes, it's safe. You hold the bag like that.
-Are you sure?
It's not going to leap up and bite?
Nah, he shouldn't, he shouldn't do today.
He's been in the pool, so he's had a bit of a cool off.
You can see how fluently they go through the water.
Lift that bag up for me, yup, just keep it off the ground.
That's it, beautiful. Just hold him there for two secs.
He can't come slithering out of there, can he?
No, he shouldn't do.
Can he bite through that bag?
Yeah, he can come through that, so I need to be always a bit cautious
when I'm doing this just to make sure
I can see where his head's going.
Cos if he comes up the bag I'll just let the bag go.
So that's all tied and secure.
What's the plan for him now?
So what I'm going to do is, we've got some selected areas out of town,
so we'll just drive out of town,
we put him down and let him go and give him a second chance.
All in a day's work for Justin.
Well, it seems that the people here in Alice Springs are OK
living in snake central, but for me, the thought of finding
one of the most venomous snakes on the planet in my own back garden...
Sorry, that's got to be a contender for my worst nightmare of nature!
We can't come all the way to Australia without meeting
one particularly bouncy resident.
Yes, it is the most famous Australian animal of all -
'There are over 25 million kangaroos of all shapes and sizes
'found across this vast country.'
'But the one I really want to see is the largest, the red kangaroo,
'because this massive marsupial has a mysterious nightmare quality.'
'But before I get to grips with a fully-grown red roo in the wild,
'I'm meeting up with kangaroo carer Jemma.'
'Jemma is part of Wildcare,
'a local organisation helping to look after orphaned baby roos.'
This one's about eight months old.
Oh! My word, how cute is this!
That one's about seven to eight months.
Seven to eight months. Oh, you're beautiful!
It's like unwrapping a Christmas present!
Oh, yours looks ever so cosy.
It's like we've wrapped it up to make it feel like
-it's in its mother's pouch, then.
So how, Jemma, do you look after a baby kangaroo?
We give them powdered milk that we stir up in a bottle
and you have to shake it until there's no lumps.
-Hmmm. Who likes lumpy milk?
And how many bottles do you have to feed them everyday?
Well, these ones have three bottles a day, one just when we get up,
one at around noon and one before we go to bed.
And do they sleep when you sleep?
Yes, they sleep when we sleep and they sleep most of the day.
They don't wake you up in the middle of the night?
-Oh, that's good.
So what is the worst part of having to care for a kangaroo?
The worst part is probably if they have diarrhoea.
Oh! Yeah, that would be gross. That would be gross.
During the night, Wingelena here wears a nappy.
Oh, does she?
-Ah, so she's just like a human baby in some ways!
Drinking milk from a bottle and wearing a nappy.
There you go. Are you hungry?
You are absolutely adorable.
Oh, I'd like to take you home.
You'd fit in my suitcase.
Yes, you would.
'After a quick bite to eat it's time for a little exercise.'
Oh, there's one.
Are you ready to watch, Acacia? This is what you do.
She can definitely move faster than me.
Can she? She can outrun you?
Oh, oh, and she's off.
Of course, Wingelena is not going to stay
this cute and adorable forever.
When she's old enough, she'll be released out into the world
to fend for herself, so to get the full picture, I'm going to have to
head out myself and see if I can find some adult red kangaroos.
'We're leaving Alice Springs behind
'and heading into the dry and dusty outback.'
Everyone keeping your eyes peeled for kangaroos, then.
There's one over there. Over there, there, stop.
Over there. By those trees, just the ears.
There it is! Quick, get out.
Slowly, slowly, slowly.
'I'm hoping on foot I'll be able to get in for a closer look.'
Hopping might look like a bizarre way of getting around,
but it's actually a very efficient method of travel.
Adult kangaroos can travel at speeds of up to 43 miles an hour,
and they can cover ten metres in one single bound.
That's the length of about two cars.
The adult males, the bucks can be extremely powerful.
They stand about six foot tall, that's about two metres,
and they weigh about 90 kilos.
That over one and a half times my weight.
'And all that bulk makes an angry adult a frightening prospect.'
Red kangaroos aren't generally dangerous to humans,
but the adult males do possess one nightmarish quality.
They love a good punch up!
Kangaroos are champion boxers of the animal world!
During the mating season, the males will often fight over
potential mates, jabbing at their opponents with their muscular
forearms and launching brutal kicks their powerful legs.
And from here, seeing the size of those legs, I would not
want to be on the receiving end of a kick from one of those.
I'm actually feeling quite nervous now getting this close to such
a large wild animal.
Not knowing whether it's going to come straight for me,
or hop away nervous of me.
'Thankfully, it seems like these roos aren't in fighting mood.'
Well, having seen them as gorgeous little babies,
I didn't think there was any way I could ever think that kangaroos
are scary creatures, but now having seen them in the wild,
I think an adult, fully grown male, bouncing, punching,
kick-boxing red kangaroo, could be my worst nightmare of nature.
'Australia has over one-and-a-half million square miles of desert,
'including some of the harshest,
'most unforgiving environments on the planet.'
'But there are plenty of animals here that have learned to cope with
'the nightmare of desert life,
'and to find out just how they do that,
'I'm going to go out into the sand
'and the blistering heat, to experience it for myself,
'so I've got my sun hat, my sun-screen, my water and my camel!'
'Camels are an ideal form of desert transport.
'Their heavy padded feet move easily over soft sand.
'They can march for several weeks without a single drink of water
'and they conserve energy on their long desert treks
'by storing it as fat in their humps.'
So the camel is a classic example with how to deal with
the nightmare of desert life,
but there are lots of species that are native here in Australia
that have also learnt to cope with life out here,
and I've got my sights set on a decidedly devilish desert dweller!
'Hidden away in the scorching sands of the outback
'lurks a terrifying monster from a lost world.'
'Covered from head to toe in evil-looking spikes and horns,
'it stalks the dunes in search of its prey.'
'This is the Thorny Devil.'
'Is anyone safe from this prehistoric nightmare?
'Reptile expert Rex is brave enough to show me this desert devil.
'But how will he handle such a ferocious fiend?
'Oh, not quite as big as I expected!
Isn't he a funny looking thing!
So he looks a bit like a prehistoric dinosaur,
but a very, very small one.
Why has he got all these spikes and horns all over him?
A couple of reasons. It makes him camouflage a little bit easier.
It's also for protection.
Yeah, I can't imagine many things would want to have that
in their mouth, cos that's so sharp.
So what would try and eat this little guy?
'So those points and prongs are actually the devil's main form
'of defence, but that's not all.'
What's this unusual lump here on the back of its neck?
That happens to be a second head.
Basically what happens is that if a bird comes to attack him,
he gets his real head, he sticks it between his legs, that lump
obviously stands up and you can see it's got two horns coming out of it.
-They match the horns on the head.
Now, if it gets ripped off it'll heal over.
It never grows back, but it gives them a second chance of life.
-That's so clever.
'Spikes and two heads!
'This lizard just gets stranger and stranger.
'Even its walk is rather odd.'
When they're walking, they walk like little wind-up toys.
They sort of stop and start, stop and start
and they generally walk with their tail up in the air.
If you've got a bird up in the sky,
the bird's looking for running movement,
so when these guys walk they actually break their movement up
so they look like a leaf being blown in the wind instead.
So it seems that this lizard's nightmarish look
is all to do with defence.
Its spikes help to make it an unappetising mouthful.
Its false head is a decoy to confuse attacking birds.
And its strange walk helps to make it look like
a leaf blowing in the wind. What does he eat?
His main food source is little black ants.
We have hundreds of species of ants here in central Australia
and they only eat a few of them, so they're actually quite fussy.
But they eat bucketloads of them.
Some of these can eat thousands of ants a day.
'And this devil in disguise has one more amazing secret survival skill.'
So he's got a fascinating way of drinking water.
Nice little puddle of water there.
And I'll just plonk him in there and we'll see what happens.
Let's see if he has a little bit of a drink for us.
See the colour stripe has now changed colour.
That's actually water, just gone straight up his back leg.
Oh, no way!
So the water has gone up his feet, onto his back
and then it's going to gradually come down to his mouth.
Yeah, he's turning all sort of orangey brown around the sides.
So he's using his whole body a bit like a giant straw,
just sucking all that water up?
'The water is transported by the skin to the devil's mouth,
'providing him with the fluid he needs to survive.'
So I guess it's a bit like if your skin was made of tissue paper.
And you can see just how the tissue paper just draws that water upwards
because it's got thousands, millions of tiny little channels on
the surface of the paper, so that's just like the thorny devil's skin.
Exactly the same.
'This means the devil can literally suck moisture out of the earth -
'a handy ability when you live in the dry heat of the desert.'
The thorny devil.
He may look like a prehistoric dinosaur,
but actually, I think he's pretty cool.
I don't think he's going to be my worst nightmare!
'Well, the thorny devil may not be half as scary as it looks,
'but there are plenty of things waiting out in the desert that are!
'To find them, we're heading even further away from the safety
'and comfort of civilisation.'
So we've driven way out into the desert,
the nearest major town, Alice Springs, is around 300 miles
in that direction, it's going to be getting dark soon,
the temperature is rapidly dropping,
so I'm just starting to wonder where I'm going to be sleeping tonight.
What, right here?
You are kidding!
'We're going to camping out in true Outback style.'
'That means no tent, just a sleeping bag
'and a couple of plastic sheets to protect us from the weather.'
It's a beautiful sunset, but I don't actually want the sun to set
because then it will get dark and then it will be frightening.
'This far into the desert, we could easily end up sharing our campsite
'with any number of nocturnal nasties,
'including dingoes, spiders, centipedes and giant ants.
'And as if that little lot isn't scary enough,
'Rex has some more bad news for me.'
We just went for a quick walk and found some firewood,
but not only did we find some firewood,
we found some lovely scorpion holes.
So there'll be scorpions all round here.
And I would say they're fairly active.
'Scorpions are another desert specialist.
'They're eight-legged arachnids, just like spiders,
'and they're built for the kill with not one,
'but two potent weapons, a pair of sharpened pincers at the front
'and a super-charged stinger, laced with venom, on their tail.'
'Just the thought of what's out there
'is enough to make my blood run cold, but there's worse to come!
'Local guide and arachnid enthusiast Danny is actually going to show us
'what's lurking around our campsite!
'He's brought some special UV lights to help spot the locals.'
Now, remember, they can be big and they can be tiny.
'Scorpions are one of the only animals that glow under UV light.
'No-one's entirely sure why,
'but it certainly makes these scary stingers stand out.'
And he packs a wallop.
So even that tiny little one would give you quite a bite?
Yep, quite painful.
Because their pincers are so small, they pack a bigger punch,
simply because they don't have the strength to hold their prey,
so their venom's got to be a lot stronger.
So their tail's their...
Their tail's their real weapon.
They're quite common around here.
This particular one,
I think is one of the most common species in Australia.
So he'll have brothers and sisters knocking around here somewhere?
He certainly will.
That's made me more worried that these are so tiny.
That could easily go into my sleeping bag!
That's number two.
There's number three.
There's number four, that's number six, how many was that,
was that eight, eight?
-Was it eight?
Eight. Don't leave me on my own.
OK, just be on the lookout for death adders, as well.
Oh, are you joking?
'In just half an hour, we find over 20 scorpions
'within crawling distance of our camp,
'and some are bigger than others.'
What's this? So what sort of scorpion is this?
That's a Urodacus. Urodacus scorpion.
-Have to pick him up see.
Oh, he was on guard, then.
-See now he's pinching me.
How does this guy compare to the tiny little one
in regards to how venomous he is?
Because he's got the stronger pincers,
he doesn't need to immobilise his prey.
Cos they're so much bigger and so much more powerful,
he can just start to eat his prey live.
So that teeny little one would do you so much more damage?
Yes, yes for sure.
If you get that, see his mouthpiece, his mouth bits there.
Two little claws.
Please don't come and visit me in my sleeping bag tonight.
'And just when I thought scorpions were all I had to worry about...'
Oh, I've got eye shine.
What does that mean?
What is it?
I think it could be a spider.
Oh, no. Oh! He's big!
That's a wolf spider.
They do get bigger than this.
How much bigger?
Round about twice that size.
That is a good-looking animal.
Not when it's in your tent.
Do they move really fast?
They are pretty quick.
'Armed with impressive fangs,
'wolf spiders deliver a painful venomous bite causing swelling,
'irritation and nausea.'
Ah! I'm actually going to have nightmares tonight!
'Now that I know the area is absolutely crawling
'with scorpions and spiders, I head back to camp for a very
'careful inspection of my sleeping bag.'
This is like a thorough check.
I know these guys are going to be asleep in two seconds
and I'm just going to be wide awake for the rest of the night,
thinking things are crawling all over my face.
This is going to be a long night!
Might put that completely over my head.
What was that?
I'm going to keep hearing things
and seeing things that probably aren't there.
How do I turn it off?
'After one of the longest nights of my life,
'the sun finally peeks over the horizon.'
Right, time to get up!
But I did it!
I think I got about four minutes' sleep, if that!
I slept all night, very tense, just thinking something was going
to run over my head all night or bite my leg off.
Can't be too careful.
'I'm tired but elated to have survived my scorpion sleepover,
'but will it be my worst nightmare?'
Thankfully it is time to pack up and head home,
but not before I pick my worst nightmare, so was it -
a killer snake in your house?
A kickboxing kangaroo?
Or a thorny desert devil?
But even after meeting all of those beasties,
I'm afraid I'm going to have to give my Australian outback
worst nightmare of nature to...
The scorpion sleepover!
How do we make it sit down?
Gotta say hoosh down.
Hoosh down! Jimbo, hoosh down.
Hoosh, Jimbo, hoosh!
Hoosh, Jimbo, hoosh!
Go on, down, hoosh!
Hoosh, come on, Jimbo, lie down, hoosh, hoosh.
Yes, so the camel is a classic example of how to... Oh.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd