The Only Animal Steve Irwin Was Afraid Of

Steve Irwin, by all accounts, lived his life as a totem to fearlessness. He grappled with creatures that most of us will never find the courage to face in our most lucid dreams: he wrestled crocodiles, wrangled black mambas, and fed tigers with a bottle years before Joe Exotic was anything more than a footnote in a ketamine binger's vacation diary.

That said, for all of his passion, the man wasn't stupid. There were some animals that he just preferred not to tango with, on account of a perfectly natural fear of pain and death. Animals like parrots. Very specifically like parrots. Steve Irwin was terrified of parrots, and rightfully so.

It came up a couple of times. In an interview with Larry King, Irwin was singing praises to the Hyacinth Macaw when King stated "I thought you were afraid of parrots." "I am," replied Irwin. When Larry asked for clarification, Irwin stated plainly "Have a look at that beak." Fair enough, man.

Polly want a finger

Irwin went on to say that, at the time, his Australia Zoo wildlife hospital was caring for 27 parrots, and that of those, 13 had bitten him. In another interview with Scientific American, Irwin described the problem: "...for some reason parrots have to bite me. That's their job. I don't know why that is. They've nearly torn my nose off. I've had some really bad parrot bites."

You know the situation is grim when you get that kind of a review from a guy who made his living seeing how many varieties of animal teeth he could have embedded in his skin. It only makes sense. According to Pet Central, a Macaw has an estimated bite force of 500 to 700 pounds per square inch, all packed into a mouth designed to crack open a brazil nut like it's a Cadbury Creme Egg. They're also notoriously difficult to read, with captive varieties frequently skipping the tell-tale warning signs and going straight for the attack.