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No, they aren't real animals. Here's a wiki link for it. Its one of those things people like to tell tourists to watch out for so they'll look stupid.
The answer depends on your sccenario, if you have access to an ice bath/cold shower within minutes of your activity that is your best bet as Liam has stated above. However, if you are unable to have an ice bath/cold shower directly following your activity there is an alternative. Some of us may have to take a bus home after the gym, drive our car, or ...
I'm a fan of a cold bath (ice bath if you can stand it). My understanding is that the contraction of the muscles that happens as they get cold forces out things like lactic acid thus improving your recovery and preventing injury. It's not everyone's cup of tea I admit though. Done a quick google on the actual benefit of this and it does seem to have some ...
There was a TV show called SAS Survival Secrets a few years back and one of the guys carried a regular condom in his emergency pack and showed how he could use it as an emergency hydration pack/bottle. I think he was able to put about 2L of water in it.
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