Creepy crawlies are all those stinging and biting creatures that give most of us the shivers. This group includes snakes, lizards, spiders, scorpions, ants, bees, ticks and leeches. It is important to know something about these creatures and how to travel safely through their world.
As nasty as creatures like the tarantula may seem, creepy crawlies abide by the same guidelines as their kin in the animal world: Except in the case of rare exceptions like leeches and ticks, they want nothing to do with you and are not on the lookout for you. Solid pre-trip research will tell you what you need to watch out for.
A man in Africa once had a black mamba, arguably the most aggressive and dangerous snake in the world, slither down into his sleeping bag to get warm for the night. The man was nearly hysterical when he realized this and was convinced the snake would bite him. His camping mates decided that in one swift motion, two of them would yank him out by his shoulders while two others whipped the sleeping bag off his feet. They did just that, and in the few seconds it took to complete the task, the snake bit the man 13 times, killing him. Chances are the snake eventually would have left if the man had lain still and waited it out.
When it comes to avoiding creepy crawlies, a little local knowledge goes a long way. Learn before you head out what you need to watch for and where it lives. Generally, you should follow these rules to minimize contact with creepy crawlies:
- Keep your hands and feet out of dark places such as rock crevices, heavy brush or hollow logs. If you need to get into such places for supplies or shelter, first use a long stick to probe the area and scare out any problem critters. Indeed, any time you slam your foot down beside a crevice, crack or hole, you’re risking taking a bite, because these are the places where snakes like to curl up. Bringing your foot down right beside one might be enough to get you bitten. The only ways you will get bitten or stung by creepy crawlies is if you abruptly enter their space and scare them, if they enter your space and get scared (usually in camp or at night), or if you provoke them. For that reason, slow, deliberate movement is essential at all times.
This story is an excerpt from the book Survive! by survival expert Les Stroud, best known for his hit show “Survivorman” on the Discovery Channel.
Feature image by Laura Bombier.