By Samantha Errico
Zoologist Jack Randall is taking viewers for a walk on the wild side as he explores the exotic and endangered species of the Australian outback in his new Nat Geo WILD series "Out There with Jack Randall."
But the fun doesn't end there. Randall brought some of his animal friends to Cheddar studios for a meet-and-greet during "Between the Bells" on Thursday — and these weren't the average pet puppies or cats. Anchors Nora Ali and Baker Machado got up-close with several animals that might give people pause.
However, Randall says, "The more you understand an animal, the more you don't fear them."
Randall's fascination for the wildlife stems from none other than the late animal expert legend, Steve Irwin, who taught him how to handle animals, to have fearless attitude, and to drive conservation. Randall says he's making sure Irwin's legacy lives on by keeping his promise to the 'Crocodile Hunter' and protecting the wild.
He hopes that exposing more people to these exotic creatures will ease some of the apprehension. For instance, Randall held a large jungle carpet python from Australia in his arms. Its size could be intimidating, but the wildlife expert stressed that snakes like this generally respond well to strangers that interact gently with them.
"The snakes are defensive, and they will react if they think they are going to get killed, but actually they are smart too; and when they realize you aren't going to kill it, they calm down," he said.
Next came an American alligator, one of North America's largest reptiles (although this one was on the small side). Randall explained it had been an illegal pet before it was placed in the custody of Wildlife Encounters.
A cane toad was another guest of the show, and despite the lore that licking the amphibian can provide a hallucinogenic effect, Randall stressed that people should not do that ー they are highly toxic and can kill a human.
The four-toed hedgehog was up next. Randall explained that hedgehogs have evolved to tolerate some snake venom, and although they are small, sharp spines offer some protection from predators.
From cute to creepy crawler, the last exotic animal Randall showed was a rose-haired tarantula. The venom of the eight-legged creature isn't deadly to humans, but one bite could cause an individual to vomit for about eight hours.
'Out There with Jack Randall' airs Sundays, at 10 p.m. Eastern time, 9 p.m. Central, on Nat Geo WILD.