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Are Australian drop bears real?

Uncovering the truth behind the Australian drop bear and other Aussie pranks.
By · February 23, 2024
Are Australian drop bears real?

If there's one thing Aussies love, it's a good prank - especially when it comes at the expense of a tourist or expat. Whether it’s terrifying stories of drop bears or tales of mythical hoop snakes, you’d be forgiven if you’re left scratching your head over what’s real and what's not.

Luckily we're giving you the heads up on these classic Australian set-ups.

Are Drop Bears real?

You could ask almost any Australian about drop bears and their response would be the same:

‘Be careful of those dangerous creatures. Drop Bears are terrifying predators that wait in the trees, and specifically target tourists.’

They’d probably tell you that drop bears are ferocious creatures that drop from high trees onto unsuspecting tourists. They may also tell you that these carnivorous marsupials are related to koalas but have razor sharp teeth and claws.

As the story goes, drop bears become particularly aggravated by foreign accents and many a visitor to Australia has become a victim to these deadly attackers. Those telling the tale will often have a personal story of how a friend or family member fell victim to a drop bear or narrowly escaped an attack.

We’re here to tell you that all of the above is untrue.

A nationwide set-up

Now, in most circumstances, stories such as that of the drop bear would raise a few eyebrows and invoke a healthy dose of scepticism.

The difficulty with this particular story is that the entire country is in on the prank. And we’re not just talking about chatter down the pub or conversations with friends. A simple Google of ‘drop bears’ will deliver results from the likes of the Australian Museum and Australian Geographic - each detailing the origins and ‘real’ dangers of these mythical creatures.

The creature is described as a heavily built animal with powerful forearms for climbing and holding on to prey. It lacks canines, using broad powerful premolars as biting tools instead... Most attacks are considered accidental and there are no stories of incidents being fatal. - Australian Museum

Drop bears are less likely to attack people with Australian accents, according to experts at the University of Tasmania. - Australian Geographic

A Scottish ITV News Asia correspondent famously fell for the prank as part of a special news report. As part of the joke she was tricked into wearing 'drop bear' protective armour and holding a ‘Drop Bear’ (aka a koala) on camera.

Aussie celebs are in on it too. Film star Chris Helmsworth advised CNN Travel to ‘bring an umbrella’ to avoid drop bears.

While there is an extremely high level of seemingly trustworthy reports, references and expert testimonials around drop bears, these arboreal attackers are completely mythical.

So, don’t be fooled by this age-old Aussie set-up. Drop bears are not real.

Other Aussie pranks - The Hoop Snake

Just in case the drop bear prank wasn’t enough to terrify you, Aussies have another legendary tale to trick you with - the Hoop Snake.

While Australia is home to many of the world’s most deadliest snakes - the Hoop Snake is not one of them.

This fictitious serpent creature is said to form a rigid hoop by clasping its tail in its mouth. It then travels at high speed to chase any human that dares disturb it - no person has ever escaped.

As always, Australians are absolutely dedicated to their jokes. So, if you Google ‘Hoop Snakes’ you’re sure to find a library of references and personal accounts detailing this deadly creature.

Don’t worry, none of them are true.

A word on Australian humour

Australians have a rather unique and quirky sense of humour. It’s a dry mix of sarcasm and lighthearted teasing - often at your expense or their own.

When it comes to tourists and expats, Aussies tend to use humour as a way to build rapport. So, while their wild tales of drop bears and hoop snakes may seem elaborate, you can rest easy that after reading this article you’re officially ‘in’ on the joke.

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