"I'm used to jumping on top of crocodiles and holding them down to put trackers on them," Irwin tells PEOPLE

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When it comes to things that scare Bindi Irwin, competing on Dancing with the Stars ranks higher than spending time with sharp-toothed wildlife.

“This is going to be more terrifying than jumping on top of a crocodile,” Irwin, the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. “Crocodiles, they are very special because they are modern-day dinosaurs. But I’ve kind of worked with them my whole life, whereas I’ve never danced before in my life.”

In fact, just days before it was announced that the 17-year-old was joining season 21 of the ABC reality dance competition, Irwin had been out in the wilderness working with those “modern-day dinosaurs.”

“I just got back from the the Steve Irwin Wildlife Preserve,” she says. “We were there on our annual crocodile research trip. We go there for about a month very year studying crocodiles to see where they go and what they get up to.”

The contrast between the last month of her life and the sequins and spray tans that are likely in her future is not lost on Irwin.

“I took a shower last night, and the amount of dirt and mud that came off of me was phenomenal, so it will be quite different,” she says of hitting the dance floor in season 21 of DWTS. “I’m used to jumping on top of crocodiles and holding them down to put trackers on them. Now, I’m about to be on a dance floor in the middle of a concrete jungle trying my luck and doing the best I possibly can. I’m excited.”

For more on Bindi Irwin’s next steps, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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Dancing with the Stars

‘ 21st season premieres Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.