When you’re out hiking or swimming in nature, what creatures do you dread encountering? Many of us automatically think of creatures with gnashing teeth or razor sharp claws. Animals like lions, tigers, jaguars, sharks, and grizzly bears inspire plenty of fear. Many of the deadliest animals in the world however are quite small and sometimes even innocuous looking. Here are some of the most deadly animals from around the world (large and small).
Found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Cape Buffalo is also nicknamed ‘Black Death’. It’s a really big beast, weighing up to 900 kg, and their thick horns often measure 100 cm across. The Cape Buffalo isn’t tall and its legs are short, it almost looks harmless but trust us, you don’t want to attack one.
It’s estimated that around 200 people a year are gored, trampled and killed by the beast… Hunters often consider the big bovines to present no great challenge, but it’s a mistake they make at their own peril. The Cape Buffalo is one of the most dangerous animals to hunt, and more big game hunters lives are lost to Cape Buffalo than to lions, tigers and other fearsome predators.
The animal has the reputation to ambush its attackers… circling back on their pursuers and counter attacking. The males will do anything to protect the herd, even chase a lion and they can get extremely aggressive.
The Siafu ant, also called driver ant, and dorylus is commonly found in Central and East Africa. When food supplies are short, the siafu ant colony is on the move, a real army comprising 20 million individual ants, devouring everything in their path.
Their scissor-like jaws slice through their unfortunate prey, whilst the powerful dissolving acid that oozes from their mouths ensures that meals can be digested quickly, without ever halting the column’s relentless progress. Large numbers of ants can kill small or immobilized animals and eat the flesh. You can easily avoid them as the colony don’t move very fast, but if they decide to pass through your house it could be a highly dangerous zone, and they’ll definitely attack you if you’re not moving.
These ants bite is severely painful, leaving two puncture wounds when removed. Moreover, removal is very difficult, as the jaws are extremely strong and can lift 5000 times the ant’s body weight (BBC). Such is the strength of their jaws that, in East Africa, they are used as natural, emergency sutures by indigenous tribal peoples to stitch the wound by getting the ants to bite on both sides of the gash, then breaking off the body.
The Saw-scaled Viper is quite a small snake, but don’t be fooled. This irritable reptile packs quite a punch. Thought to be responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined, this is a creature you don’t want to meet.
The Viper’s venom contains a blend of four deadly toxins and, although death isn’t instantaneous, the devastating effects are soon felt. Those unfortunate enough to be bitten experience uncontrollable bleeding, with the body’s tissues dissolving, limbs being lost and the ultimate price soon being paid. The worst part? There is no antidote.
Found in the dry regions of Africa, Pakistan, India and the Middle East, the Saw-scaled Viper warns potential victims that it’s about to strike, rubbing sections of its body together to produce a sound that is perhaps best described as ‘sizzling’. Called stridulation, this is your best chance of avoiding an unfortunate end. Happened upon a sizzling snake? Be sure to take heed.
It might look harmless enough, but the Cone Snail is both dangerous and deadly. Packed with poison, those unfortunate enough to come into contact risk paying the ultimate price. Thinking about picking one up from the ocean floor? Take our best advice — don’t.
The Cone Snail possesses toxic harpoons that can fire in any direction without warning. The venom within contains countless compounds and varies from species to species. Given that there are more than 800 varieties and some measuring up to 23cm in length, finding an effective antidote is a tall order indeed.
Those stung can suffer muscular paralysis, blurred vision and breathing difficulties, whilst in severe cases, fatalities can occur. Lurking amongst coral reefs and rocks, Cone Snails tend to make their homes in tropical and sub-tropical waters. For anyone entering their immediate environment, the risks are significant and the dangers grave.
Swimming just beneath the surface, the Indonesian needlefish isn’t known as an aggressive creature. Yet this is a dangerous species that can and does kill. Inflicting injuries fatal or otherwise is, in most cases, accidental. Yet this makes the needlefish no less dangerous.
Measuring up to three feet, this dagger-shaped ocean dweller has a long beak that is packed with razor-sharp teeth. From time to time, needlefish launch themselves out of the water at speeds of almost 40 miles per hour. Those in their path can be stabbed by these fast-flying spears. The injuries inflicted can be severe, the wounds deep, and the consequences sometimes grave.
Needlefish are often drawn to artificial light putting those who engage in night fishing at the greatest risk of all. They’ve been known to leap into boats, impaling unfortunate anglers and ensuring that their reputation for danger remains intact. For many traditional Pacific Islander communities, who commonly fish on reefs from low boats, the species represent an greater risk of injury than sharks.
The Pufferfish is a remarkable creature which live mostly in the warm waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Sluggish and slow, they can’t escape an approaching predator. However, this surprising fish has a deadly defense mechanism: it ingests huge quantities of water, blowing itself up to several times its size and in the process becoming inedible.
The creature is also packed with poison. Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, and there’s enough in a Pufferfish to kill around 30 adult humans. Even worse, there’s no known antidote – making a grim death inevitable.
Remarkably, given its immense toxicity, Pufferfish is a delicacy in Japan, where it appears on fine dining menus as fugu. Be warned, however, that even in death, this remains a dangerous creature. Fugu chefs must be incredibly skilled to prepare it, as 30 to 50 people in Japan are hospitalized every year due to fugu poisoning.
Found in the deserts and scrublands of North Africa and the Middle East, the Deathstalker’s name says it all. Considered one of the most dangerous scorpions on Earth, this is a creature to avoid at all costs. Spotted one scuttling along the desert floor? Take our advice and take evasive action.
Measuring up to three inches long, this is one sizeable scorpion although it can be difficult to spot as it lurks amongst the rocks or blends into the sandy surface. Heading into the Deathstalker’s environment? Keep your eyes peeled as a sting can be extremely painful and in some instances, even fatal. Its venom packed with a powerful mix of crippling neurotoxins, the aggressive Deathstalker is fast to attack and always means business.
There is an antivenom but out in the deserts and the scrublands, an effective treatment isn’t always readily available. Fun fact: The scorpion’s venom have been found helpful in treating brain tumors and other diseases, and treatments using the venom are currently being investigated in medical trials.
Gray Wolves prefer to steer clear of people, choosing remote areas in which to live and avoiding human contact as much as possible. The bad news? If paths should cross, fatal attacks can and do occur.
Native to North America and Eurasia, the Gray Wolf is a merciless and powerful beast that becomes aggressive during times of confrontation. In countries such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, encounters are not uncommon.
Gray Wolves are natural hunters that travel in large packs, their senses sharp and their skills honed. Weighing up to 45 kg, tackling larger prey — people included — holds no fears for these natural-born killers. The head and face are targeted first, with savage bites designed to debilitate and inflict maximum damage. Their victims limp and lifeless, Gray Wolves drag the kill away, ready to enjoy the spoils and consume a well-earned meal.
A worldwide 2002 study by the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research showed that 90% of victims of predatory attacks were children under the age of 18, especially under the age of 10. In the rare cases where adults were killed, the victims were almost always women (wikipedia).
Historically, children are more vulnerable to wolves as they were more likely to enter forests unattended to pick berries and mushrooms, as well as sometimes mistaking wolves for dogs. While these practices have largely died out in Europe, they are still the case in India, where numerous attacks have been recorded in recent decades.
You might think that, as renowned scavengers, hyenas pose little threat to the living. You’d be mistaken. The striped hyena does tend to feast on animal corpses and carcasses, but its spotted counterpart is a predator that is to be avoided at all costs.
Spotted hyenas kill as much as 95% of all their food, preying on creatures large and small across their wild African homelands. Humans are not safe from these ruthless nocturnal carnivores, with night-time attacks not uncommon. Be under no illusions about this: Spotted hyenas are cunning man-eaters, plain and simple.
Hyenas are perhaps best known for their distinctive calls, but to come face to face with one is no laughing matter. Large claws, sharp teeth and bone-crushing jaws make this a dangerous beast indeed. Fearsome and fast, outrunning a hungry hyena isn’t an option.
The Assassin Bug is a strange creature. Feasting on insects, it impales its prey using its long proboscis, sucks it dry and then wears the creature’s lifeless corpse on its back as a kind of camouflage and impromptu armour.
It doesn’t appear to pose much danger to humans at first glance, although that piercing proboscis can inflict a painful stab, with toxic venom and digestive juices sometimes being injected into the wound. Not pleasant, perhaps, but far from deadly. But consider the following.
There are more than 7,000 varieties of Assassin Bug to be found worldwide and one of them, the blood-sucking Kissing Bug, found in U.S and Mexico, is a dangerous adversary. This is a species that waits until a person is asleep, before inflicting a series of painless bites around the mouth area.
The Kissing Bug then defecates into the miniscule puncture holes causing chagas disease, an infection that can take decades to manifest. The problems caused include chronic heart problems and sometimes worse.
Make sure to watch out for the most venomous snake on the planet, the ever-dangerous Inland Taipan, a species you’ll certainly want to avoid at all costs. So lethal is this reclusive reptile that experts estimate a single bite contains sufficient venom to kill 100 men.
For those unfortunate enough to cross paths, death tends to come quickly, in as little as half-an-hour. Been bitten? You’re unlikely to live to tell the tale.
So far so bad, but the good news is that chance encounters are far from common. Inland Taipan prefer to keep themselves to themselves, making their homes in Australia’s semi-arid central eastern regions, locations that are remote, with humans few and far between.
Fast and agile, this is a snake that strives to avoid others and will do its utmost to remain hidden in the shadows. But make no mistake: if cornered, the Inland Taipan will defend itself, so walk away if you ever see one.
Measuring up to 20 feet from nose to tail and weighing in at around 1,000 kg, the Saltwater Crocodile is a monstrous beast. Mostly found in India, Australia and Micronesia, this is an opportunistic predator that shows its victims no mercy.
Find yourself locked in its powerful jaws and you might as well say your prayers. For those unfortunate enough to be attacked, there is no second chance.
One of the largest crocs around, the Saltwater Crocodile can boast the strongest bite of any animal on Earth today. Its victims are often ambushed before being drowned and devoured – or sometimes swallowed whole. This is, according to experts, the creature most likely to eat a human, and the number of those whose days come to an abrupt end in a crocodile’s jaws are not insignificant. Take care around brackish waterholes and out on the ocean, where cunning crocs are prone to lurk beneath the surface, waiting to strike with devastating consequences.
The saltwater crocodile has a strong tendency to treat humans as prey and has a long history of attacking humans who travel into its territory. The only recommended policy for dealing with saltwater crocodiles is to completely avoid their habitat whenever possible, as they get extremely aggressive when their territory is trespassed and it’s unlikely you’ll survive their attack. One study estimated 30 attacks per year by saltwater crocodiles, of which 50% were fatal (wikipedia). Though exact data on attacks are limited outside Australia, as humans and saltwater crocodiles co-exist in relatively undeveloped, low-economy and rural regions, where attacks are likely to go unreported.
The most dangerous sea urchin on Earth is to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple, with Flower Urchins often partially buried in the soft sand or lurking amongst coral reefs and rocks, hidden from sight and poised to inflict great pain.
Found in the warm waters around Indonesia, Australia and Japan, this is a common species in the Indo-West Pacific. It might appear pretty, but don’t be fooled. The Flower Urchin is both dangerous and deadly.
Growing up to 20 cm, the Flower Urchin delivers devastating stings from its fang-like tips, causing debilitating pain, muscular paralysis, breathing problems and disorientation. Those unfortunate enough to suffer a sting are in significant peril, with drowning a real danger as the effects take hold. Divers preparing to explore coral reefs are briefed to give Flower Urchins a wide berth.
The Blue Ringed Octopus looks like a magical creature but appearances can be deceptive. Yes, it’s colourful and pretty. But it’s also one of the most venomous marine animals on the planet and a close encounter can have fatal consequences.
Found in the tide pools and coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, this is a common creature from Japan to Australia, and all ports in between. Spotted one lurking in the water? Watch out and keep your distance.
Dangerous and deadly, the Blue Ringed Octopus’ highly-toxic venom contains tetrodotoxin, and a dose can have dire results for anyone on the receiving end. Nausea, respiratory arrest, heart failure, paralysis and blindness can all be experienced, whilst in severe cases, those bitten can die within minutes. Encountered an Octopus? The creature’s distinctive blue rings will start to change colour if it feels threatened.
Mosquitos are tiny. Yet the dangers these miniscule blood suckers pose could not be bigger. The most dangerous creature on the planet? Few present greater risks to human health.
In itself, the Mosquito’s bite is little more than an annoyance, causing swelling, irritation and mild symptoms that pose few real problems. But this is an insect that can and does transmit fatal diseases. Health experts estimate that, each year, millions of people worldwide die as a result of Mosquito-borne maladies.
Those diseases? Most people know about Malaria, which is believed to be responsible for more than 400,000 global deaths on an annual basis. Factor in Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and the Zika and West Nile Viruses and it’s clear that the Mosquito’s devastating impact on human health is, in the main, grossly underestimated. Repellents and nets are available, yet this annoying insect sometimes inexplicably manages to defeat the protection.
Often found floating (or moving at speeds close to five miles per hour) in the Indo-Pacific waters north of Australia, these transparent, nearly invisible invertebrates are considered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to be the most venomous marine animal in the world.
Their namesake cubic frames contain up to 15 tentacles at the corners, with each growing as long as 10ft, all lined with thousands of stinging cells – known as nematocysts – which contain toxins that simultaneously attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. While antivenins do exist, the poison is so powerful that many of the hundreds of reported victims each year go into shock, drowning or dying of heart failure before reaching shore.
Even if you are lucky enough to make it to the hospital and receive the antidote, survivors can sometimes experience considerable pain for weeks afterwards and bear nasty scars from the creature’s tentacles.
Ungainly as it is, the hippopotamus is the world's deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa. Hippos are aggressive creatures, and they have very sharp teeth. And you would not want to get stuck under one; at up to 2,750kg they can crush a human to death.
Hippos have gored and trampled people and dragged them into the water, overturned boats and even bitten off humans’ heads.
Often regarded as the world’s most dangerous fly, the tsetse – a small speck of an insect that measures up to 0.7 inches, or about the same size as the average house fly – is commonly found in sub-Saharan countries, especially those in the center of the continent including the Sudans, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola. While the flies themselves are nasty bloodsucking bugs that usually feed during the peak warm hours, their true terror lies in the protozoan parasites they spread known as trypanosomes.
These microscopic pathogens are the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, a disease marked by neurological and meningoencephalitic symptoms including behavioural changes and poor coordination, as well as the disturbances to the sleep cycle that give the illness its name. If left untreated, it can lead to death. While there are no vaccines or medications available to prevent infection, methods of protection include opting for neutral-coloured clothing (the tsetse is attracted to bright and dark shades, especially blue), avoiding bushes during the day and wearing permethrin-treated gear in more remote areas.
Though species like the boomslang or the king cobra are dangerous thanks to their respective poisons, the black mamba is especially deadly due to its speed. The species (which can grow up to 14 feet long) is the fastest of all snakes, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour, which makes escaping one in remote areas that much more difficult.
Thankfully, black mambas usually only strike when threatened—but when they do, they’ll bite repeatedly, delivering enough venom (a blend of neuro- and cardiotoxins) in a single bite to kill ten people. And if one doesn’t receive the correlative antivenin within 20 minutes, the bites are almost 100 percent fatal.
Thanks to Jaws, there’s perhaps no predator on Earth more feared than the Great White Shark. Responsible for more recorded bites and fatal attacks on humans than all other sharks species, the Great White Shark is a marine monster, weighing up to 1900 kg and often 20 feet in length from nose to tail.
It’s one of the most dangerous predators because it’s fast and able to swim at speeds up to 35 miles per hour, it can detect a drop of blood in 94 litres of water. The reason why sharks bite humans is they are being curious when they encounter something unusual in their territories and the only way they can explore an object or organism is to bite it. The animal will then swim away, but, a single bite can grievously injure a human.
Many of the attacks occur in coastal waters around Australia, Florida and the Reunion Island. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there were 2,785 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks around the world between 1958 and 2016, 439 were fatal. If fatalities are low, it’s because sharks usually make one swift attack and then retreat to wait for the victim to die or weaken before returning to feed. This protects the shark from getting injured. It also gives humans time to get out of the water and survive!
In 2019, 64 unprovoked and 41 provoked bites were recorded; a provoked bite occurs when a human initiates physical contact with a shark (a diver getting bitten when trying to grab one or bites that happen while removing sharks from fishing hooks and nets). Despite these reports, the actual number of fatal shark attacks worldwide remains uncertain as in most third world coastal nations, there is no existing method of reporting suspected shark attacks.
This Portuguese Man O’War seem like a pretty jellyfish lying on the beach but it is, in actual fact, a siphonophore isn ot a single creature at all, but a colony of organisms, all working together. Siphonophores are predators that feed, like jellyfish, by dangling tentacles in the water that sting and paralyze small crustaceans and fish.
Great lengths should be taken to avoid the Portuguese Man O’War, with dire consequences a real risk should an unplanned encounter occur. This floating monster delivers painful stings with its long tentacles, its venomous attacks vicious, and its victims left stricken. Those on the receiving end experience symptoms similar to a severe allergic reaction — including swelling of the larynx, cardiac distress, fever, shock and sometimes even death.
Inflicting agonising red welts, the carnivorous Man O’War floats away, leaving chaos and carnage in its wake. Some 10,000 people are stung each summer in Australia alone, with the report of a siphonophore in the water enough to close beaches down and prompt widespread panic.
It measures one inch and weighs one ounce, but don’t be fooled by the diminutive Golden Poison Dart Frog. This ranks amongst the most toxic creatures on the planet. It might only be as big as a paperclip, but it packs quite a punch.
Native to the rainforests of Colombia’s Pacific Coast, the Golden Poison Dart Frog varies in colour, it can be yellow, orange or green but no matter its attractive appearance, this is an amphibian to avoid.
The deadly frog’s skin is coated with a toxin that is extraordinarily potent. Each creature can boast sufficient poison to kill up to 20 men or two African bull elephants. Muscular paralysis and heart failure ensure that those unfortunate enough to come into close contract experience a grim end. Small it might be, but the Golden Poison Dart Frog poses a danger that couldn’t be greater.
The Brazilian Wandering Spider is one to avoid at all costs. It’s fat and it’s hairy. It’s also deadly. The Guinness Book of Records classified this South American stalker as the world’s most-venomous spider.
Also known as the Banana Spider, this creature prowls the forest floor after dark, always on the hunt for food, with insects, amphibians, reptiles and mice in danger from this natural born killer. Humans are at risk also, a venomous bite often proving fatal, with children at the greatest risk.
There is a recognised antivenom for a Brazilian Wandering Spider bite although receiving the appropriate treatment in time can prove to be quite a challenge for those deep in the jungle. Afraid of spiders? With plump bodies that can measure up to two inches in length, you’ll pray to not come across the Brazilian Wandering Spider.
Stonefish are the world’s most venomous fish. They fool their prey (humans included) by camouflage as they blend in with reefs and the bottom of the ocean floor. They have 13 spines along their back, and each spine has a gland that holds venom.
If a person steps on or kicks a stonefish, the venom is released, and the person (or other aquatic enemies) is up for a painful and sometimes fatal ride. Stonefish are particularly dangerous to divers and swimmers in Australia. These days, there is a stonefish anti-venom, so there haven’t been many deaths per se by stonefish in recent years.
King cobra, the world's largest venomous snake. The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the longest venomous snake in the world. Its bite delivers a tremendous amount of paralysis-inducing neurotoxins.
The snake's venom is so strong and so voluminous that it can kill an elephant in just a few hours.
Top of the list are Humans! Surprised? We’re animals, too, after all. And seeing as we’ve been killing each other for 10,000 years, with the total deaths resulting from war alone estimated at between 150 million and one billion, it’s a no-brainer that we top the list. Though we are said to be living in the most peaceful period now than at any other time in our history, we still assault each other with incredibly high rates of senseless brutality, from gun violence in cities such as Munich and Florida’s Fort Lauderdale to terrorist attacks around the globe. We're dangerous to other animals, too – think global warming and the destruction of forests and coral reefs. Given the threat we pose to countless other creatures – and the fact that we often act irrationally and have the capacity to annihilate our entire planet with a host of horrifying weapons – we are easily number one on the list of the most dangerous animals in the world.