The Worst of Australia’s Wildlife

Can we talk about cockroaches for a second? I realize this is not the first time I’ve talked about them, though hopefully it will be the last.

There was once a time when I thought cockroaches meant a house was dirty. They were sort of like a disgusting tooth fairy that would only visit your home if you gave them good reason to. In turn, that made you a gross human being who wasn’t fit to live as an independent adult.

Then I came to Australia.

There are no cockroaches in paradise - NOT SO FAST.
At least there are no cockroaches at the beach…or are there?

As the hostel’s morning cleaner, I used to see a few cockroaches. It was a hostel, though, so it sort of made sense. If people didn’t leave out their dirty dishes, there would be no cockroaches but there would also be no job (and no free accommodation) for me. Plus, these cockroaches were small, usually no bigger than the first two joints of my pinky finger.

Then I went to New Zealand.

That’s when they thought it would be cool to turn up in my house. Specifically, in my cutlery drawer. I lived on the seventh floor of an apartment building in Auckland, so that kind of made sense too. According to my understanding of cockroaches, they sometimes visited dwellings that weren’t filthy, but only if these were apartment buildings in major cities.

Then I moved to Newcastle.

A more aesthetically pleasing common sight in Newcastle.
A more aesthetically pleasing common sight in Newcastle.

That’s when I saw real cockroaches. Ones that were at least the size of my middle finger and either had gross, threatening stripes or the unnerving ability to fly. I saw these in my mother-in-law’s house, which is the cleanest house in all of Newcastle, and that’s when I realized that my original theory was wrong. (As an aside, please don’t ever tell me that these ‘are nothing compared to what you saw in fill-in-the-blank country.’ The roaches in question are in my house and therefore the worst type of all.)

“Oh yeah,” people said. “The cockroaches in Newcastle are pretty bad.”

How can an entire town have a cockroach problem? It astounds and horrifies me. Where do they go during the day? I end up imagining millions of them moving as one in the walls and under the floorboards and it is very hard to un-see that vision in your head once it’s there. Jared doesn’t understand why I go into attack mode whenever I see one.

“It’s just a cockroach,” he says. “It’s not going to hurt you.”

No, but it is going to disgust me and that lasts longer. The entire reason I’m writing this right now is because a giant one just skittered across my wooden floor on its hideous legs and made my skin crawl. Fortunately I keep magazines strategically placed around the house for these exact moments and whacked it so hard it went flying across the room.

Magazines are good in these situations because you can just tear off the gut-smeared page and use it for an easy cleanup. Jared suggests that we put fresh baits out, but I’m hesitant because the immediate effect is to bring out the cockroaches, and I’m not really prepared to deal with that at the moment. I’ve started keeping a covered sports bottle of water next to the nightstand because I am convinced that they cavort in my exposed water glass while I sleep.

The cockroaches annoy me so much that when I spotted a fat hairy fanged spider huddled in the fence yesterday I just went about my business. Blue-tongued lizards crawl across the backyard and I think to myself, I hope they eat some of those cockroaches. Every night when the fruit bats migrate through the skies above Carrington, I wonder if they might eat insects when desperate. When the Newy Shark was making headlines, I still went to the beach, but I won’t enter a dark room in my own house until I’ve deemed it to be cockroach-free.

Bat migration time.
Bat migration time.

I don’t know if all that stuff they say about Australia having a disproportionate number of scary creatures is true, but I can say for sure that these cockroaches are getting to be a real hassle.

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  1. Haha! I’m from South Florida, home to two large species of cockroaches. Now I live in Melbourne and I rarely see a cockroach. If I do, it’s small and outside. Thank goodness. I totally sympathise with you.

    1. I work with a girl from Melbourne and she is absolutely horrified by the cockroach situation in Newcastle. Haven’t spent much time in South FL but next time I will be prepared!

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