Drop Bear

Drop bears are carnivorous, tree-dwelling marsupials found throughout Australia. Their preferred dwelling is eucalyptus trees or gum trees. They are related to koala bears, though larger and equipped with sharp teeth and razor-like claws. Sometimes people refer to them as the koala bear's evil twin.

Drop bears prefer to feed at night. They wait in trees and then drop down on top of their prey, usually instantly knocking it unconscious. They will then proceed to devour it. They will quite readily attack creatures larger than themselves, including humans.

The only known way to deter a drop bear is to spread toothpaste or vegemite behind your ears and on your neck. It also makes sense not to pitch your tent beneath a tree that contains a drop bear. A good way to find out if a drop bear is in a tree is to lie down beneath the tree and spit upwards. If a drop bear is sleeping up there, it will wake up and spit back.

Australians are known for going to great lengths to make sure that backpacking tourists are aware of the dangers posed by drop bears. Young children attending camp are also frequently warned of this threat to their safety.

More content from the Hoax Museum:


Hi Alex
I bought your book over the weekend and loved it! Very amusing tales of human gullibility, ignorance and intelligence.
I thought you might be interested in a tale that did the rounds in my youth. No doubt there are similar stories out there. I attended many camps, and a popular story to keep the kids in their beds at night was the threat of the 'drop bears'.
According to camp leaders (and I confess to perpetuating this in later years!), there lurked in Australian gum trees fierce koala bear type creatures called drop bears. They slept during the day, and only came out at night to feed. You could tell if there was a drop bear in a tree by upturning your face and spitting up into the tree. If there was a drop bear, it would spit back (think about it...). They were also said to be attracted to Vegemite, the staple Aussie condiment, which the kids then started to avoid at breakfast. To ward off an attack by drop bears, campers were advised to put toothpaste behind their ears. I am sure there were a few parents who wondered why they had to wash toothpaste out of pillowcases.
I am pretty sure there were more tall tales associated with this mysterious creature, but I can't remember more at present.
I have also attached a picture you might be interested in, similar to the photo on your Jackalope page. I work at quarantine, and occasionally these unusual creatures make their way into Australia in the luggage of tourists with a penchance for unusual souvenirs.
Keep up the great work!
Posted by Jen  on  Sun Feb 16, 2003  at  07:01 PM

Re: Drop Bears in Australia
In my experience, the drop bear story is related to girl guide and boy scout camps. I have not heard about the spitting idea to tell if there is a bear in the tree, but i was informed that they lived in eucalyptus trees and had very long arms and sharp claws (I always pictured them a bit loke a small sloth) and they would drop from the tree, land on your shoulders and rip out and eat your neck.
Posted by  on  Sun Aug 03, 2003  at  10:01 AM

is that a drop bear it is like cant be
Posted by  on  Wed Aug 06, 2003  at  11:01 PM

About the Australian Drop Bear, hah! That's funny! Cause if you lye down on your back and spit, the only spit you'll be getting in return is your's! :+P That's funny! Who ever thought of that? And if so, when?
Posted by  on  Tue Aug 12, 2003  at  02:07 AM
Apparently this story also works on foreign army groups. My father's army team managed to get some other group to sleep on top of their 4WD during the entire time they were out bush in Australia. The other story that goes with the drop-bears is the trip-snakes - you're walking along a track, and the snake will pull itsef across the track (coiling its tail/body around something on each side) and then, when you fall over, bite you so it can eat you.
Posted by Kellie  on  Sun Aug 24, 2003  at  11:01 PM

TO Mr.alex,
i enjoyed looking at your web page but i do not believe in drop bears
Posted by  on  Tue Oct 14, 2003  at  07:50 PM

That sounds like an urban legend around here, the "Johnson Monster"
Posted by Joe  on  Sun Nov 02, 2003  at  04:51 PM

The drop bear is just another term for the Yowie, which many people in Australia believe exists. The story of the Yowie has been retold in Aboriginal communities for generations.
Posted by Willow  on  Tue Feb 10, 2004  at  11:05 PM

The only way to get rid of a Drop Bear is to run around in a circle 3 times very quickly. This disorients the Drop Bear and it falls to the ground paralized. Otherwise, if you have a Trip-Snake handy it will sufice as it is the Drop Bears only natural preditor. This story is not just told to guides, scouts and foreign armies, but to all backpacking tourists upon arrival on a tour in Australia.
And if you happen to see a Trip-Snake lying crippled on a bush track, give its shoulders a gentle rub, it normally just has a pinched nerve and will slither away quickly once it recovers.
Posted by sykobanana  on  Sat Feb 21, 2004  at  02:49 AM

my friend got attacked by a drop bear a year ago
Posted by Justin  on  Sat Mar 06, 2004  at  09:01 PM
There is no such thing as a Drop Bear or a Trip Snake. Although I would stand under a tree because a snake or spider could fall on you and many of the snakes and spiders in Australia are poisonous. Some of them are very aggressive and there I think the Tiger snake would even chase after you to bite you, more than once. That could be fatal.
Posted by Micaela  in  New South Wales  on  Sun Mar 28, 2004  at  05:22 AM
The complement to the drop-bear is the upstone: bushwalkers must watch out from above and below when walking Down Under.
Posted by James  on  Tue Mar 30, 2004  at  03:49 PM
As a boyscout member of the 2nd Parramatta troop, I was introduced to the horrors of Drop Bears by the senior scouts and in turn, passed the same horror stories onto the kids below me as I advanced in rank. Drop Bears were described as a subspecies of Koala Bear (a marsupial) with two very long incisor teeth, that would wait on a branch for someone to pause underneath. It would then fall from the tree, driving the large teeth into the spinal chord at the base of the neck. This would paralyse the victim and allow the creature to eat. May of the smarter kids (including myself) were wise enough not to heed the stories of Drop Bears.

But there was another creature that lived in the Australian bush that likewise frightened younger Scouts: "Ombilie-Gombilies". According to the senior scouts, an Ombilie-Gombilie was a small non-descript creature known to attack enmasse and gnaw off any protruding toes and fingers that slipped from a tent or sleeping bag at night. One scout was found screaming and running around the forest covered with blood one night and when I backtracked his footsteps, it seems he had tripped over a fresh deer carcass and has landed in the chest cavity which had been opened by foxed or wild dogs. Of course, all the other kids thought the Obilie-Gombilie stories were true after that and refused to believe my explaination.

As for Yowies (an Aussie version of Bigfoot), I was present when a Park Ranger came by to ask us one night if we'd seen anything since he was investigating a legitimate sighting by elderly campers upriver. Of course, two scouts had been running about with one atop the other's shoulders and a ground-sheet over them so it was hard to take the report seriously. Until we discovered giant footprints and a forensic team had been taking moulds of them a week before we arrived.

Nowdays I'm one of the premier visual effects artist for the film industry and get to design and make my own mosters every week.
Posted by Marco Nero  in  Australia  on  Sun Apr 18, 2004  at  10:24 PM
who is dumb enough to
1. lie under a tree in australia
2. spit up into the air and not realise that gravity is against you and ur spit will fall back onto your face.........is anyone dumb enough to try it out???
Posted by me  on  Fri May 28, 2004  at  12:29 AM
I'm from NZ and as these damn aussies just LOVE teasing us new zealanders, my friend started talking to me about drop bears one day. the fool thing is, after a few minutes i was seriously saying 'no come on emma, honestly, drop bears arent real ... are they?'
Posted by Anji  in  Australia  on  Sat Jun 12, 2004  at  09:27 AM
I'm an Aussie, I've been a girl guide, a girl guide leader and I've bushwalked all over the place, but I've never heard about drop bears before. I feel deprived! I really could have used that to scare my charges and fellow guides on camps. The hilarity of the entire thing is that no one stops to think hard about the method of finding one! And we don't even have bears here. (If it's meant to be a cousin of the koala, I'm sorry to say the koala isn't part of the bear family either.)
Posted by Kiara  on  Fri Jul 16, 2004  at  02:24 AM
The version of drop bear I heard about is:
When a koala (-bear) up in the tree dies, it naturally falls out of the tree onto the ground. So one has to look out so as not to get hit on the head by a dead koala.
This version is usually believed by all non-Aussies. Try it out!
Posted by Susanne  on  Wed Aug 18, 2004  at  09:01 AM
My best friend was fooled by that one... but then again she also thought a shark was living in my pond. SO I wouldn't use her as a example!
Posted by Sherie  in  USA  on  Tue Nov 09, 2004  at  07:55 PM
Drop bears don't exist, to my knowledge, but they're plausible (except for the spitting thing). Koalas can become very fierce if severely provoked, and ancient Australia was home to many carnivorous marsupials. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine an arboreal, carnivorous relative of the koala that hunts by dropping out of trees onto its prey.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Fri Dec 31, 2004  at  05:39 PM

Drop bears actually refers to the Marsupial Lion-Thylacoleo carnifex, which dropped down onto its prey killing it by the sheer weight of the beast.
Posted by t.c  in  SYdney-AUstralia  on  Thu Feb 17, 2005  at  09:21 PM
I learnt about drop bears from Mum a coupla years back - pretty coolish, she sounded very serious about it, and I am pretty darn good at keeping a straight face too so I told all my friends when we went out to Reinke Scrub about drop bears - they were more than a little freaked :D I'm trying my hand at being a novelist and one of my stories has a mentioning of drop bears worked into it. It's pretty good, but anyways. Anyways, yeah. When I talk to friends over the net who are coming over to Australia for one reason or another I make sure to warn them of drop bears, and bunyips/yowies, and all the rest. Just so as to make them feel comforted XD
Posted by Nic The Crazy  on  Sun Apr 10, 2005  at  01:12 AM
Drop bears may not be real, but if the Marsupial Lion (Thylacoleo carnifex), turns out to have survived into the present day and not be extinct after-all, then you have a real life equivalent.

Another possibility of course is the Yowie or the Junjardee. The Yowie is a big hairy fella, kind of like the Sasquatch oe Wendigo. The Junjardee is a little hairy fella, kind of like the Sumatran Orang Pendek or Flores Ebu Gogo. They both have one thing in common, they like bunya nuts and thus tend to climb trees. You see a young Yowie or a Junjardee drop out of a Bunya pine and you'd think you'd seen a drop bear. With over 10,000 sightings through out Australia of these cryptids over the past 200 years, there's a good chance they exist.

Posted by Folcrom  in  Melbourne  on  Thu Jun 02, 2005  at  05:20 PM
Drop Bears are definately not Yowies, they are the evil cousin of the Koala Bear, only with very long and sharp claws and fangs. The main purpose of the Drop Bear is to scare tourists, foreigners, city slickers and small children on camps.
Posted by Abby  on  Tue Jun 28, 2005  at  09:04 PM
after perusing your site and wetting myself laughing at some of the hoaxes ... and correcting the mortgage buster one ... IT HAPPENED 1980 kingston qld. was one of our neighbours and we lived on top of the old gold mine. then i came across drop bears ... omg i had almost forgotten . I was 18 ..had lived in australia for 10 years and had never heard of them until the day a gang of us decided to go camping in the BUNYA mountains . this of course is the home of the drop bear as i was told . The shape of a koala .. the size and weight of a wombat (extremely hardy solid animals, will write off your car suspension if you run over one ) huge teeth and claws . they hide in trees and drop on unsuspecting passers by .. fanging and eating and tearing etc. hmmm wouldnt have been too bad except some of us were travelling on motorbikes. my so called friends kept this story going for 3 solid months until finally someone told me . needless to say i did not then believe in trip snakes ... i had never heard the lie under a tree and spit to find them ... although ... we do have family flying in from new zealand over the next few days .... MWAHAHAHAHA
Posted by head1ess_chicken  in  brisbane australia  on  Sat Aug 13, 2005  at  06:58 PM
Drop Bears are incredibly real! My brother was in the sugarloaf mountains about hour out from melbourne, and he heard moaning as dropbears are heard to do in their sleep. He looked up and saw a huge black lump of fur and claws attached to the tree. Tourists...Im tellin ya! Make sure you're protected by Aeroguard and a comment before said that they are attracted to vegemite...not true! They are definitely repelled by it! The Australian Government has been covering this up to keep the tourism... but i warn you...Australian DropBears are nothing to laugh at. Look at all the websites devoted to dropbears...and we know that everything on the net is true.
Posted by Emma  on  Tue Sep 06, 2005  at  08:31 PM
I have seen a drop bear. True story. We were canoeing once and heard a scrambling in a large redgum tree on the bank. As I looked across I saw abig male koala lose its grip on a branch and drop to the ground like a rock.

The stupid creature looked a bit groggy after the experience and only took a few seconds to come to.

But I can tell you.... you wouldn't have wanted the fat little bastard to land on your head!
Posted by Lord Voltara  in  Australia  on  Mon Oct 03, 2005  at  01:32 AM
hi there im aussie born and bred and was always told of drop bears whenever we went up bush,we were always only told that they were dead koala, or the fact that koalas eating too many gum leaves actually become quite drigged and can lose their grip. we used to tell tourists that snakes chase you here (scaryily its true)
and that red back spiders use heat seeking sensors to find you at night to bite you in your sleep.(i dont know how many sleepless nights he had) and he also asked what our equivelant of a cowboy was and we told him it was a phwar (it took him a while to realise we were crapping him(so i admitted that was the sound an aussie girl made when she saw a tight bunned cowboy).
we have so many yukky bitey creatures here that its easy to toy with people.
when i visited my uncle in the mountains here he told me of the mountain people that livet here that were hairy all over and had been seen hiding in peoples wood piles(i nearly shat meself)as he had a gleaming woodpile and i was a knowing 28 year old.
Posted by gayle  in  australia  on  Mon Nov 28, 2005  at  07:50 PM
I have been living in America for a year now and was suprised when my Husband (an American) mentioned Drop Bears and how the story is told to tourists entering Australia.
I was born and raised in Australia and was first told about Drop Bears during a Grade 2 sleepover.
Infact we were taken out into the school yard after dark with flash lights to search for the elussive little monsters. It was definately a fun, if somewhat terrifying experience at the time.
Even if Drop Bears are a hoax it is a great nodd to our love of a good lark. What other country would use a National pest (Cane Toads) as a way to improve their golf swing or offroad vechicle manuvering capabilities.
Posted by Cat Gray  in  Formerly Melb, Australia  on  Mon Dec 05, 2005  at  08:33 AM
Being from Australia and a tourist guide. I only see it fit to tell a good yarn about the infamous drop bears and trip snakes. Of course its all nonsence, but those dam tourist kids are to dam irisitible not to tell, with all the spitting and the mums getting angry at them for making there close dirty. One hope the drop bears stay in are culture forever, cose it kicks so much ass.

PS: what is the "johnson monster" ?
Posted by chaos0013  in  australia  on  Fri Jan 27, 2006  at  08:50 PM
we are doing a project on drop bears at school does anyone have any information about them that atleast 5 people can back you up on? please i need help rolleyes
Posted by tamara rettke  on  Mon May 08, 2006  at  02:22 AM
Comments: Page 1 of 3 pages  1 2 3 >