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Koalas, Snakes And Spiders: The Weirdest Wild Animals Found In Christmas Trees

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Rachael Funnell

author

Rachael Funnell

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Writer & Senior Digital Producer

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... A koala bear inside my tree. Image by Amanda McCormick, shared with permission from 1300Koalaz

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... A koala bear inside my tree. Image by Amanda McCormick, shared with permission from 1300Koalaz

The lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas reference a range of species, from humans to swans, turtle doves, and French hens. Across the globe, however, there have been far more bizarre animals found in Christmas trees than a partridge in a pear tree. From the delightful to the slightly terrifying, here are some of the weirdest wild animals found in Christmas trees.

A koala in a Christmas tree

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It’s always best in life to avoid stereotyping, but sometimes Australia turfs out a news story that is just so quintessentially Australian. One family in Adelaide this week was surprised when they returned home to find a juvenile koala clutching onto their artificial Christmas tree. Unsure of what to do (an entirely reasonable response) they called the Adelaide and Hills Koala Rescue (AHKR) Service 1300Koalaz for advice.

The koala apparently chewed on a few artificial leaves before realizing its mistake. Image by Amanda McCormick, shared with permission from 1300Koalaz

“This evening our hotline operator took a call. At first she thought she was the victim of a prank call,” wrote the AHKR in a Facebook post. “But no, a koala desperate to get in the Christmas spirit had wandered into Amanda McCormick’s house and decided it wanted to be the fairy on the Christmas tree. Amanda was not so sure and rang 1300Koalaz for help. Thanks Amanda for the great pictures and making sure this little koala got its wish, even if it was just for a short while.”

An owl in a Christmas tree

In what might be the most famous Christmas tree reveal of the year, New York's Rockefeller Center had a surprise special guest when they unleashed their iconic tree in November. Tucked inside the branches, having traveled 322 kilometers (200 miles) without food, was a tiny male Saw-whet owl.

The tiny owl was named "Rockefeller" in tribute to his epic journey. Ravensbeard Wildlife Center

The slightly ruffled and very hungry owl was taken in by the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center who gladly reported he was in good health despite his traumatic journey. He was treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet of mice at the center and was successful returned to the wild after he'd got his strength back. Read the full story here.

40+ spiders in a Christmas tree

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Technology reporter for the Washington Post and San Francisco resident Heather Kelly had perhaps what might be considered a less charming surprise in her tree this year. In a Twitter thread this week she described the emerging situation inside her Christmas tree as what she first suspected to be one or two spiders turned out to be a veritable festival of arachnids.

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In an effort to keep the terror at bay she has been documenting those released while urging others to make use of the “tree shaker” available at some pick-your-own tree centers. Kelly however doubts even this would’ve been enough to dislodge the spidey utopia within her tree, so, when all else fails, bury the fear with some delightful, tiny Christmas hats.

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A tiger snake in a Christmas tree

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Back in 2016, there was another unexpected guest discovered in a Christmas tree as a woman in Melbourne – yes, we're back in Australia – came home to find a tiger snake blending in with the decorations. Tiger snakes are not to be taken lightly as they pack a potent venom and are infamously aggressive. The homeowner snapped a photo and sent it to Snake Catcher Victoria Australia who quickly came over to relieve the tree of its deadly garland. The photo shows the snake looking directly at the camera for its photo op, which hopefully made for a delightful round-robin front cover for its reptilian relatives.


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