When a suspicious looking box labeled “two pair shoes” arrived in Australia from Northern Europe recently, the Australian Border Force sent it through an x-ray. They didn’t find shoes, of course. Instead, the box contained a terrifying assortment of venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions—as if the country needed more of those.
The box included everything from two enormous Brazilian salmon pink tarantulas (which are famous for eating birds) to six venomous “temple vipers.” All of the animals were euthanized when they were discovered in Australia, though some of the spiders died in transit.
“Anyone who claims to be an animal lover and conceals reptiles or arachnids in small packages and sends them through the mail does not have the best interests of the animals—or Australia—at heart,” a spokesperson responsible for biosecurity in the country said in a statement.
As anyone who’s seen the classic 1995 Simpsons episode “Bart vs Australia” or the classic 2016 Johnny Depp episode “Pistol and Boo vs Australia” knows, they take biosecurity pretty seriously down under.
Well, pretty seriously until they see an opportunity for puns.
“No spider is a match for our biosecurity web, we get our tails up when there are scorpions in the mail and if you try send exotic snakes—beware if we find intentional non-compliance, we bite back with the full force of the law,” Deputy Secretary of biosecurity Lyn O’Connell said in a statement.
But the list of invasive animals is no joke. The inventory list of animals that had to be put down by Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources after arriving in Melbourne includes:
- Three ball pythons, also known as royal pythons
- Two hognose snakes
- Six vipers, identified as Wagler’s temple vipers— a venomous pitviper species native to South-East Asia
- Two Colombian giant tarantulas
- Five Mexican redknee tarantulas
- Two Brazilian salmon pink tarantulas— considered to be the third-largest tarantula in the world
- Four Asian forest scorpions
It’s unclear who sent the box of snakes and spiders to Australia and the intended recipient has not yet been named. Sometimes these types of animals are used for questionable medicinal purposes and strange skin creams, though at this point we can only speculate as to why they were headed for Australia.
Since Australia already has more than its fair share of animals that are capable of killing humans, we might humbly suggest that any smugglers try to send Australia something it actually needs next time. Like, for instance, a decent internet connection. That would be nice.
With an average internet speed of just 10.1 Mbps, Australia doesn’t even crack the top 50 countries in the world, which is pretty embarrassing for a developed nation. But I suppose it’s a bit harder to ship a box of Fast Internet™ than it is a box full of deadly snakes.