Let’s Get Enriched: Damon Ramsey Dishes on Australian Reptiles

In Silversea’s “Let’s Get Enriched” series, you don’t have to be onboard to feel your mind expanding into fascinating new territories as expedition and enrichment team members offer short takes on their favorite topics. Tune in as our experts share as much great info about their specialties as they do about the passions that fuel them.

What most fascinates Damon Ramsey, a lecturer on Silversea Cruises’ expedition voyages, about Australian reptiles? How much time do you have? Still, when pressed, Ramsey tells us that “the closing power of a saltwater crocodile is extremely strong”.

And there’s more.

“They have been calculated to have a more forceful grip than any other animal that ever lived.”

What’s intriguing about attending one of Ramsey’s lectures, regardless of the topic, is that he injects personal advice and experience, along with humorous tidbits into the experiences he shares. For instance, geckos, a species adept at clinging to smooth surfaces (like walls and ceilings of homes in places like Northern Australia and the Kimberly) are mostly harmless, Ramsey says of the tiny Australian reptiles. Still, beware: When they fight, he tells us, they tend to lose their grip. “When you are asleep, it’s probably not a good idea to lie on your back with your snoring mouth open or you might end up with a gecko in your gob.”

Damon Ramsey’s lecture saves lives…

Ramsey counts the Reptiles of Northern Australia as among the prettiest, rarest and most dangerous animals in the country. And he reassures us that only the saltwater crocodile can actually eat a human being. Fortunately in this presentation he offers techniques for saving oneself should you by chance find yourself in danger of being devoured — important information to learn about reptiles.

Other key takeaways about Australian reptiles

The dragon is not the stuff of fantasy fiction. There are 62 varieties of dragon lizards in Australia. They are a diverse lot who can run “like circus clowns in long floppy shoes,” Ramsey tells us. In Australia they’re called ‘Goannas’. These dragon lizards range in size from just 50 mm (2 inches) to close to a meter (3 feet) in length. Their most unusual feature is that their teeth are on the outer rim of their mouths rather than on the inner side of their jaws.

Did you know that the world’s snakes all evolved from lizards? Australia is home to 221 species of snakes. The largest of these is the python. It can grow to a length of 5 meters (16 feet). Thankfully, the python is non-venomous and rumors of it swallowing a human are greatly and happily exaggerated. More good news: Venomous snakes are few and far between in Northern Australia and the Kimberly.

Finally, about those crocodiles. There are both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles in Northern Australia and the Kimberly. The good news is that the freshwater species eats fish and not mammals. On the other hand, the saltwater crocodile is the largest predator in Australia. Ramsey’s advice on avoiding them: If you see one, stay out of the water.

Ramsey’s life of discovery

Biologist Damon Ramsey has written over 130 lectures, all illustrated with his photographs. The Australian native’s life obsession is to see and photograph as many types of plants and animals as he can. His field studies have taken him to 50 countries on all seven continents.

Ready to discover Down Under and learn more about Australian reptiles? Silversea’s Australia & New Zealand itineraries offer a variety of ways to explore.