How Deadly is a series of short videos featuring ABC’s resident ‘nature nerd’, Ann Jones, available on iView. Ann answers all the pressing questions: how realistic are the crocodile scenes in movies like Lake Placid and Crocodile Dundee? Are snakes cannibals? How do kangaroos feel about parachutes? How many people have been murdered by emus? And how did they train Skippy to perform all those stunts?
How Deadly is worth watching to hear Ann refer to snakes as ‘bush tinsel’, and for the revelation that swooping ‘maggies’ have particular proclivities: some hate bike riders, some go after posties because of their hi-vis gear, and – because they can recognise faces – some target specific individuals. So if you’re getting swooped, remember – it might be personal.*
Ann says that emus have never murdered anyone, but emu expert Stephen Schmidt disagrees. According to him, ‘people have been killed by them.’
In a recent ABC article about emus being banned from a western Queensland pub after ‘toileting’ all over the place, Schmidt said, ‘I’ve had them chase me up onto the top of the truck.’ Meaning, presumably, that if he hadn’t managed to get up there, the oversized birds would have murdered him.
Schmidt doesn’t mention how many days he had to wait atop his truck before the homicidal birds finally scuttled off to find someone else to terrorise.
Nor does he offer any evidence of emu murders. But he must know what he’s talking about, since he works with the birds daily. His farm name, Try It Emu, seems like a direct taunt (this might explain the truck scenario). So maybe magpies aren’t the only Australian birds with a personal beef.
These sorts of Australiana facts are among my favourite things to discuss, and soon I’ll be doing just that on Zoom with author Cass Moriarty. Join us!
Ashley Kalagian Blunt in conversation with Cass Moriarty
Thursday 6 August, 6:30-7:30pm AEST, online
Free, RSVP here >>
*This was first published by Writing NSW.