Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we’re asking what’s the craic about dangerous animals. So we’re gonna look at what dangerous animals live in the UK, we’re both from that area originally, so we’re gonna find out about that.
What live in Europe and Russia, we’re now at this moment in Russia, so we’ll speak about that. Any experiences we may have had with dangerous animals or someone we know. What are we afraid of? Cause I think we’re afraid of something, right?
Most people are afraid of some animal, or at least afraid of being bitten or stung. Would we go surfing in certain places? Would we go hiking in other places? We’re gonna look at that kinda stuff, and about pets, and what we think is the most dangerous animal.
So, we’re gonna look and get into all of that as we go along. So, what are the dangerous animals living in the UK?
I’m not talking about zoos of course.
That’s right. I think most English, British people tend to think there aren’t many dangerous animals in the UK, but actually there are. Especially in Scotland, dangerous animals like not so much wolves, but dangerous stags, deer, that kind of thing.
And occasionally you’ll see a sign if you’re driving along, showing a deer in a big red triangle, isn’t it? That shows a deer, or sometimes it can be cows, but I guess they’re not as uncontrolled as deers might be.
Cows can be quite dangerous, it’s often forgotten that cows corner, especially when you get behind them, and horses.
Horses too. I mean, they’re not wild animals that are gonna purposefully kill you. Or, you know, aggressively kill you, but then again, most animals aren’t purposefully killing humans either. I would say the wasp.
It’s not to be compare to bears or tigers or anything, but wasp, especially if you’re allergic, could kill.
And unfortunately some people don’t find out they’re allergic until… Or could become allergic just later in life without any warning, so I guess…
What about hornets, aren’t they… Aren’t there hornets in the UK? I know that we have them in France, but…
I haven’t seen or heard of them in Northern Ireland. I think not. But wasps are bad enough. You’re drinking your juice in the summer, or eating bread and jam, and they’re attracted to the sugar or whatever.
And they’re kind of more difficult than bees cause they come for the sweet stuff, the sugar, and if you kind of try to attack they can get aggressive I think. Defend themselves.
I think wasps are more aggressive than bees, because a bee would die if it stung you. Whether wasps will attack you just for no reason I think.
On guard. And it’s at bottom, they’ve got the sting around, and back in again. It’s not pleasant, I’ve been stung. Actually I was walking about in a theme park in England, and something landed on my head.
And I just swatted it, and it turned out it was a wasp. And I found out when it stung me on the neck. But thankfully, so far, touch wood, I’m not allergic, so, yeah. But we don’t have anything that is gonna… Are there wolves in Scotland?
There used to be wolves in Scotland, and I know there was some… They died out about 1700 until some geographer reintroduced them in some parts. But I don’t think there are now.
Cause I know in Ireland, North ad South, there are no wolves. And there are no snakes, not even a grass snake in Ireland, except in the zoos of course, or as people’s pets.
It was St Patrick who banished the snakes from…
According to the legend, they chased them all out. Right. So that’s the UK. I don’t think people are too scared yet.
Hearing about wasps and bees and deer.
No, it’s not. Most people would think it’s a pretty tame-placed.
I think so. So, looking at Europe and specifically Russia – there are a few more dangerous animals I think.
But you might not see them every day, I know I haven’t. But what dangerous animal are in Russia?
Well, I think the stereotype that British people think of is that every where you go in Russia you are going to be met by a wolf or bear. I remember when I was a boy, there was a book of stereotypes, and there was a picture of a man in Siberia, standing with a bear.
And a wolf was standing in the street. And it said – in Siberia men walk in the street with bears, and wolves stand on the corner. But I think It’s not quite as bad, is it?
Not in my experience, no. It’s not been so bad. So definitely there are bears, and I’m sure there are wolves. I’ve never seen any.
I’ve seen in the zoo in Novosibirsk zoo.
But then I’ve seen them in Belfast zoo too. Tigers? Although specific to the Amur region if I’m right.
Амурский тигр, yeah. But they’re over in the Far East of Russia. Just above, region just above Vladivostok, if I’m right.
People will forgive me if I make a mistake. Yes, so you got bears, you got tigers, you got wolves. There are some other animals like pumas, I think, lynx.
But they live way out in the wild, I think generally away from people, don’t they?
There can be dangerous dogs as well. I think they may have rabies or something.
So, wild dogs and things. Are there many snakes in Russia?
I was talking about this only yesterday, and it appears there are more snakes than I thought. Some quite dangerous, ones in the forests. I think the most common is the one we have in Britain, the adder or viper. But there are some more dangerous snakes. Yes, poisonous. I can’t remember the name of them.
So, thankfully, never experienced that. Ticks?
Ticks, yeah. Not the ticks of the clock. Клещ, I think.
Something like that. Forgive our pronunciation, please.
I know they’re quite dangerous in Russia, because they carry.
Carry a kind of disease which can, potentially, carry a disease that can cause you a long-term health problem. It’s something that people are aware of and watching out. So if you’re coming as a tourist, especially summer. Is it throughout the summer?
I think it begins in the spring, it’s worse in the summer. And then it sort of dies off. And it’s Lyme disease, isn’t it? That’s carried.
We have them in Britain, but they’re not dangerous.
They’re not carrying that disease, right. And some mosquitoes here, but they’re not carrying diseases. In Russia, thankfully, they don’t carry diseases. At least, we have that, it’s great. But yeah, watch out for the ticks if you’re in a forest.
Actually, I was… I felt something on my ear yesterday, I was with my wife, and I flicked something off my ear. I thought something was crawling. And at first it looked like a spider, but honestly, I killed it quite quickly, but I think it might have been a tick.
It was kind of big body, black, with little… But I killed it quite quickly, so…
A raving lunatic, I hope not. So, yeah. But yeah, there was nothing, no bites on me or anything, so I hope.
I think they’re more dangerous to animals like dogs and pets, and if you’re walking your dog, you have to make sure that there are no ticks on it after, especially in the early part of the summer.
Right, right. So watch out for those, yeah. Have you ever had, or know anyone who has had, an experience with a dangerous animal?
Well, yes. I know, in France, for example, where I live, a friend of mine was attacked by hornets in his garden only this summer. They swamped at him when he was in the garden, and he had to have a week in hospital.
That was very unpleasant, because they stung him very badly.
So, yeah, in numbers especially, something like that is very dangerous.
I’ve had an experience with a snake once.
Yes, it was in France again. There was a neighbor’s dog barking, and I went out and the dog was playing with this viper. A young one. And the old woman who owned the dog was shouting at it, and so I went into my house and fetched a poker from the fire, and killed it.
Right. So you weren’t bitten?
No no, but the dog was… It would’ve maybe killed the dog.
Wow, okay. It’s a risk I guess. Well, the worst experience for me or anyone in my family was a dog bite. My mom was once bitten by a dog. The dog that we had, they were walking – my mom was walking the dog, and there was a little bit bigger dog who…
They got into a bit of a fight and my mom tried to intervene there. It often happens I suppose. Not, I mean, not exactly what we think when we think of dangerous animals, but dogs can do damage. But she’s fine now, but it wasn’t a nice experience.
And I can say I’ve never… I’ve had little bites from dogs. I’ve always been around dogs, most of my life, even early childhood, but only little bites, nothing severe, nothing worth talking about.
I was frightened of dogs when I was a little boy, I never knew why, until my mother told me that when I was quit small, I was bitten by one of their friend’s dogs. I don’t remember it, but I think that’s probably what made me…
It’s in your subconscious somewhere. So, well, we talked about France, but apart from France, have you even been anywhere where there’ve been dangerous animals? Like, tigers or cheetahs or lions? Crocodiles or anything like that?
No, I’ve been to Canada, where there’re quite… Where bears are quite common, they’re even coming into the cities.
In parts of the Northern Canada, can cause quite a problem. But I’ve never seen anything like that. I have been in Northern Canada, Saskatchewan I think it’s called. And I know they have them.
Right. Well I’ve been… I think most people know if they’ve listened to the podcast – I’ve been to Australia. But it was during the winter for them. Honestly, people might think I’m strange, I was disappointed that I didn’t see crocodiles. But then I was sort of in the south and the west, I think they’re mostly north and east.
But anyway, I didn’t see crocodiles. And it’s now that I wanted to be close to them, right. But I would’ve liked to see one in real life, in the wild, from the distance.
You didn’t see any kangaroos?
But they didn’t come up box you, cause they can be quite dangerous.
They could be, they’re huge, those animals! They could be, but no, they stayed away from me. They knew us from Northern Ireland.
I don’t know. But yeah, and my friend who I was staying with, he’s terrified of snakes, and young lads who we’re friends with, thought it would be funny to throw a dead snake at him. He wasn’t impressed at all. I saw, in the airport when I was leaving, I saw, I think it’s called a redback spider.
Which is actually very dangerous. But I think I saw the female one, which is actually not so dangerous. But there was a child playing not too far from it, I just decided that I would be kind of a humanitarian, and I decided to step on it.
Please forgive me. Anyone who is loving spiders, I just thought that wee child was more important. So, yeah, I’ve been to Australia, I’ve been to the Middle East, Jerusalem and so on. But I never really saw… I guess there were dangerous animals there, but I never experienced…
Could be scorpions and things.
Scorpions, there would be snakes and stuff. We were on a tour group and we’d never come across anything terrible, so that was good. But we were at Eilat, which is in the South, and there is Red Sea there.
And actually I was watching a tv program not too long ago, and there had been, at one stage, I don’t think they are so common, but there had been some shark attacks. But I think…
You were swimming in the sea?
I wasn’t swimming. It wouldn’t have got me. I didn’t have to be told that there might be sharks, I just decided not to swim. I don’t think I was prepared to swim anyway, but, yeah, I didn’t bother. I didn’t bother swimming.
Which leads a little bit on to the next couple of questions that I have for you. Are you afraid of snakes, spiders, crocodile or alligators, sharks? I mean, what are you afraid of? Animal wise?
Well, I think if I was going to be seeing these snakes, crocodiles, I would be frightened of them.
I’m not very keen on rats.
Where I live in France, we often have them, especially in the cellar. And I don’t like going down there and seeing these big rats.
Well they could be as long as your hand and a bit more.
Right. They’re big animals.
Very big. They’re not dangerous, but they’re unpleasant.
Are they afraid of you? Do they run away when they see you?
Oh my goodness. It sounds a bit creepy.
The problem wasn’t so bad until recently, because our neighbors had two cats, and they kept them away. But now the cats are gone…
Well, I would if I was there any length of time.
You’re not there so often to be able to do that, yeah. I am not afraid of snakes. Not that I wouldn’t be afraid of poisonous, but you know, if you gave me a snake that I knew wouldn’t bite me, I wouldn’t be afraid. I think some people are really terrified and they wouldn’t hold it. Would you hold a snake?
I wouldn’t be very keen on it, I know that… I was talking to one of the pupils that I teach – his friend keeps a pet snake.
And it sleeps on his bed.
And it’s …, it’s not poisonous of course. There’s a name for it in Russian.
You could wake up dead. Pardon the joke.
I wouldn’t be going with a snake around my neck, like you see…
I don’t think I’m too keen on snakes. I think, I saw it in Novosibirsk zoo. I looked at the snakes and I must say their skin, their scales, is fascinating. I mean, the detail, colors, the texture – it’s really really fascinating.
I would even go as far as to say beautiful in its own way. But yeah, I wouldn’t want to have one in my bed.
I think they’ll charge you 300 rubles at the zoo to drape the snake around your neck and have a photograph taken.
I didn’t try that. So, crocodiles and alligators – not something that I would mess with. Or sharks, definitely not. In fact, I would go as far as to say I’m terrified of sharks. Terrified of the idea.
I have a recurring nightmare about being trapped in a swimming pool. I think that came from James Bond films. Trapped in a swimming pool and there’s a shark in there – you know, James Bond used to do that.
But in my nightmare I’m not James Bond, unfortunately. I used to be so afraid of spiders as a little boy. Now not so much, but if you ask me to hold a big big spider, I would probably run.
I’m not too keen on them. I pick them up and get rid of them if they… I’m not keen on…
Would you have a tarantula in your house?
Categorically нет. No tense. So, I’m gonna test your bravery, or maybe stupidity, pardon me. Would you…. It depends on your point of view. Would you swim or surf in a hot country where there might be sharks?
Well I think, if you could see it’s a shark in the distance coming to you, you could run out and not come to the beach.
But maybe they could be quite quick. And is it knee high or something that a lot of shark attacks happen?
It’s probably come from Jaws or something.
Yeah. So, yeah, you wouldn’t catch me. As I said when I went to the Red Sea, I didn’t go in the water. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… No, I wouldn’t do it. I mean, if I were brought up in the culture alongside people, maybe in Australia for example,
who surf regularly and you know, you’re brought up in that culture, and you understand better I think. You might be less afraid. Or maybe not. I don’t know. For me, coming from a culture in a country where there aren’t so many sharks, very very rare, I’m extra careful. I’ve watched too many films with sharks, jaws and everything.
I don’t like those sort of films.
No. Would you go hiking in crocodile country?
No chance. I don’t think I would want to do it…
Not for a million pounds?
Nit hiking. I mean, you could bring a shotgun.
I could, but I’m not quite sure whether I aim straight.
Maybe it would be nice open country, and there’s not many streams or rivers -would you feel more comfortable?
Well, if it was known to be a safe place, but you could never be sure… I mean, I may be not frightened, but when I go in my garden in France in the hot weather, I always put on boots, because in case I tread on a snake.
You’ve got that risk, yeah.
There’s always… It’s quite dangerous to tread on them.
I think they don’t like that.
If I ask myself this question – would I go hiking in a crocodile country, yeah, I wouldn’t do it unless I felt safe. I felt like I could see. Visibility – if there was good visibility, you know, you weren’t gonna get caught a crocodile sneaking on you or something.
But I’ve also watched Crocodile Dundee. Too many films have scared me. And the thing about films is they’re not realistic often. You know, the animals are not the real animal, and it’s not the real behavior and stuff.
I remember the episode of Thunderbirds, do you remember? Thunderbirds on go.
Yeah, I remember it, yeah.
It was about alligators in the river in… I don’t know where it was, Africa or somewhere. And somebody had out some chemical into the river, and the alligators turned ten times the size. Ad they were attacking… That gave me nightmares when I was watching that.
Yeah I think so. Oh you know why I think they did that? Because the models suited the size of a…. Yeah cause the models were very small that they used for a tv program, and I guess the alligators – they found some small alligators that suited the models.
I think so. And now it gave you nightmares. So you told me you won’t keep a pet tarantula.
No, I wouldn’t want a pet snake. I wouldn’t mind anything that’s, you know, normal.
What is normal? A dog? Would you have a dog?
You’re not afraid of dogs?
No, I’m not afraid of dogs.
You know, fair play, as we say in Ireland and Northern Ireland – fair play to ya if you want to have a pet tarantula or a snake or a scorpion. Hopefully, you have taken away, defunded, or got rid of the poison or whatever, in case someone touches it, but as much as I think they’re interesting, I don’t want one as a pet.
Maybe…. Well, I could stretch with a snake, I could see myself having a snake, except you have to feed them with maybe mice or locusts, and that would be uncomfortable I think. I wouldn’t be against a pet snake except for the fact that you have to feed it with these other animals, and it wouldn’t be so comfortable.
The smell as well of a snake.
I guess it’s a bit like pet rabbits don’t do much, right? They sit in their cage, and they kinda just go to the toilet, and that’s about it. And I think a snake probably does something similar.
Whereas dogs are more lively, and sociable, and interactive, and I think dogs or cats are probably better for pets.
I think so, yes. Well, they are more designed… Not designed, they are more sociable animals, dogs. Cats are not too…
Well, yeah. What’s the most dangerous animal in the world?
I would think it would be some sort of those big wild white bears or something like that.
Well I wouldn’t want to mess with one, that’s for sure. How tall can they get? I mean, if you look at the zoo…
Is it 3-4 meters? Or is it…?
Well they wouldn’t be very useful, very comfortable to meet.
I wouldn’t like to fight one for sure, even if I had a stick or weapon or something.
I think they are hunters, they would come after you.
Yeah. There was a guy I think in a bbc program who was attacked, wasn’t he? And thankfully he was in some kind of container and caged to protect him, cause he was filming. And I think the bear tried to get him out.
I remember that, yes. Yes, it would certainly go for the attack, the bear.
Well, based on what I’ve read, and that’s kind of a disclaimer I suppose, based on what I’ve read – mosquitoes. The most dangerous animal. Well, it’s not because of course, you know, tear you throat or something, but it’s because they carry that disease.
Actually, mosquitoes. And sharks kill much less people than, say, some farm animals and so on. Well, because we’re interacting more with farm animals, even a cow or a horse is actually… Kills more people per year than a shark might.
Purely because, well, we’re interacting more. And I think aren’t that interested in eating us.
No, I don’t think they actually come after people so much.
They have a bit of curiosity. And I think that leads them to bite people that can be fatal of course. It’s not something to be trialed with. But I don’t think they do it on purpose - they’re just getting confused. And maybe curious as well.
But they’re pretty powerful animal. But a mosquito beats them. Yeah. Why do snakes scare people?
Well, I think becomes it comes from the bible, doesn’t it? Because it was Lucifer that was… appeared in the form of a serpent…
Serpent is a synonym for snake.
And when there was a curse on Adam and Eve. Lucifer, serpent crawled on its belly, he was a snake. And I think in biblical sort of analogy – it’s a symbol of the devil.
Right. But is there more to it than that? Cause I mean even people who may be not focusing on that, maybe not even know about that, could be terrified of snakes. Is it because they’re not furry?
They don’t have the traditional, you know, big lovely brown eyes, and furry skin.
But people aren’t, I mean there are worms and things like that, and people aren’t sort of frightened of that. I think it’s something in our psyche.
Yeah, maybe it is, psyche.
Passing from generation to generation.
Maybe it’s the fact they bite. So I guess, yeah, we learn a lot too from our parents and grandparents maybe as well. And we kinda hold the tradition. I mean, my dad is scared of snakes. But I mean, saying that, my dad is scared of snakes, and I’m not. Not so much. So yeah. It’s interesting. What would you do if you met a bear?
I would probably try to walk away very slowly. I think there’s lots of animals – they will not attack you if you show that you’re not afraid of them.
Yeah. Or if you’re not aggressive.
Not aggressive, just I know that dangerous dogs – I was told by a farmer, and it always works – that you should always point a stick at a dog, and it will not come close to the stick.
Right. It doesn’t like that. It doesn’t like being hit with sticks. And I think dogs’ nose is very sensitive.
Like the bull, the ring on the… How they lead the bull – they put the ring in their nose.
Yeah. I must say I don’t like being hit on nose either. It’s not so nice. Well, there’s different advice. I’m a bit confused about bears – the thing is we don’t see them. We live in Russia, we don’t see them.
But there’s some advice for black bear, and some advice for brown bear, and it seems, some people would say you treat them differently. I mean, it’s confusing. Some people say you have to stand up tall and shout, but I think it’s more to keep yourself safe from them coming in the first place.
Because they tend not to go to noise, they tend to avoid trouble, the bears. And they don’t purposefully come to hunt you down. I’ve heard they love toothpaste. So if you’re camping in the wild and it’s bear country – I don’t know if I recommend it first of all.
But if you are, keep your toothpaste, even all your food, keep it away from where you’re sleeping. Keep it away. I think the best thing is to avoid them.
I guess, I’m not an expert, but maybe back away slowly. Depending on…
Depending on how aggressive it is. Which comes to the next thing – so about all animals, well you’ve given some advice already, but have you heard other good advice for dealing with any kind of animals?
Well the only thing is I think if it’s cows for example, you wouldn’t want to go behind them
You don’t want to go behind them.
And you would walk past them very slowly, and they won’t harm you.
They’re placid, aren’t they?
They’re not gonna hurt you.
A bull might. If there’s a bull in the field…
Don’t go in the field. I’ve learned… Actually funny thing was when I was a boy, I was walking in a field, and I’d never had problems with cows, but my friend and I, cousin actually, we were good friends, about the same age. I think we were about 12, so a little immature let’s say, if not still immature, I don’t know.
Certainly immature then. And we had a dog, my dog, who was a medium sized dog, black and white blue roan cocker spaniel, and we’re walking about, and the cows… I think they didn’t like the dog in there and they chased us.
And I mean there was nothing we could do except run out of the field, and take the dog with us and make sure… I mean, I was worried about the dog. I wasn’t so worried about me – not that I was gonna fight with the cow, but I was worried about the dog.
Cause I think they were chasing the dog actually. So, don’t go in the field, especially if you’re a dog, cause they may take a notion that they don’t like dogs. And if it’s a bull… If you have any doubt- do not go in the field.
And if it is horns of any kind, I don’t recommend going too close. I advise that. I was given some advice about dogs. And I think it was a dog, it was barking. It was aggressive, an aggressive dog. I was told to kind of…
I think I was told to keep eye contact, and don’t test this advice too carefully, but I think I was told to avoid eye contact, I was told to avoid eye contact. And keep my hands out of my pockets, but not make any sudden movements. I kinda walked slowly but steadily away.
Not turning my back to the animal, but walking past it. And so I walked slowly, not quickly. Don’t make sudden movements. Don’t really make eye contact. I think it was more to avoid an aggressive dog.
I mean, if you’re gonna stand up to a dog that’s not aggressive, you might do that stick trick, or you might look it in the eyes. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to challenge a dog. Cause if it takes you up on your challenge, unfortunately, they’re quite quick.
And humans I think are not ready for it generally speaking. Nd they’re pretty quick. Even though they’ve only one weapon, they’ve only got their teeth. And we have four – we have hands and feet. They can take us by surprise and I think it’s not a good idea to challenge a dog, even a small dog.
You get the shark of your life I think. But anyway. I think we really, we talked quite a bit about dangerous animals, but for us a dog is just as dangerous in our lives anyway, in our experiences it’s just as dangerous. But there are many animals out there, and…
I know a lot of people who’ve been entertained by the queen been bitten by her corgis.
Are they naughty, those dogs?
Yes. They can keep quite a nib. But I think some president was nibbled…
I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that. But there you go. I guess we’ll finish it there. So that was the craic about dangerous animals. We talked about what lives in the UK – it’s not very intimidating, but it’s dangerous. We talked about Europe and specifically Russia.
We’ve got some dangerous animals there. We talked a bit about dogs and being bitten and hornets as well. We’ve been to a couple of dangerous places with snakes, crocodiles. We wouldn’t keep pets, and not gonna surf in shark-infested waters.
And we’re not gonna have the more unusual pets, it’s not for us. But fair play to ya, if you have them. And yeah, the most dangerous animal is a mosquito purely because of the diseases. So guys, that was the craic about dangerous animals.