The Most Dangerous Animals on Earth
Have you ever wondered which animals are the biggest threat to humans? Surprisingly, there are a lot more of them than you think. Some live in far-off lands, but some are shockingly close to home — you could even have one under your very own roof!
Frightened? Take a look at our list of the deadliest creatures on Earth to make sure you know exactly what danger looks like. After all, you never know when you might come face to face with a deadly creature.
What? But pigs are too fat and lazy to be dangerous, right? Truthfully, most pigs aren't dangerous at all, but some domesticated pigs — not wild ones, which are always menacing — are downright deadly. They won’t hunt you down to attack you, but if you’re vulnerable in their presence, they are capable of anything.
A pufferfish is an unlikely threat to the average Joe, but some people in Japan consider it a delicacy to eat. As a result, the daring diners occasionally die from incorrectly catching or preparing the pufferfish. If the final product isn’t perfect, it becomes a fatal appetizer.
These freshwater beasts certainly look like a frightening sight, but they are actually one of the least deadly animals on our list. That doesn't mean you want to get too close to one. In states like Florida and Louisiana, they are responsible for a few human deaths every year.
Similar to alligators, wolves may appear frightening, but they are only responsible for a few human fatalities per year. Additionally, some of the fatalities are attributed to rabies, so don't think of these big predators as vicious human-eating machines — they aren’t.
Great White Sharks
Ah, yes, the great white shark, an animal that terrifies beach lovers everywhere. These fears aren't entirely unfounded. There are about 150 shark attacks annually, but only six to 10 are fatal, and few — if any — are committed by great whites. Those are still some scary odds if sharks have been seen recently in an area.
Bears kill about 12 people per year, so they earned a spot on our list of deadliest animals. They don't seek out humans, however. Most fatalities occur when humans stumble upon bears in the wild, especially bears with cubs. In North America, brown bears are particularly aggressive.
Brazilian Wandering Spiders
The Brazilian wandering spider belongs to a family of spiders named Phoneutria ("murderess" in Greek). They look similar to tarantulas but are much, much deadlier. A bite contains enough venom to be lethal if medical help isn't available. It causes burning pain, nausea, hypothermia and more.
One animal you never want to encounter is the bulldog ant. These tiny creatures are venomous and aggressive, and they won't shy away from a big lumbering human. They will clamp onto your skin and inject their stinger multiple times — like a bee, only 100 times worse.
What? These beautiful, kind animals can be even deadlier than bears? Unfortunately, yes, but not in the way that you think. About 20 people a year die because of horses in the U.S., but most of those deaths are from falling off while riding one.
Another surprising contender on our list of deadliest animals is the cow. They kill about the same number of people as horses do, and, yes, it’s usually by accident. Sometimes cows get spooked and attack in defense, especially if dogs are involved.
You might have had one of these as a stuffed animal once, but they're far from soft and cuddly. Tigers kill around 100 people a year, and they can be a real threat in India and other native countries. Imagine knowing tigers live in the jungle surrounding your house?
Another big cat that kills about 100 people a year is the lion and for similar reasons. Sometimes humans happen upon them or get too close on their African safaris. Other times, lions hunt humans because their normal food source isn't as plentiful as it used to be.
These enormous grassland dwellers are even more lethal than lions, if you can believe it. Part of the reason for this is that Cape buffalo are widely hunted in Africa, and the hunters become the hunted if their shot doesn't take down this huge moving target.
Like tigers, leopards are mostly a danger in India, where their numbers are highest and their habitats are near human populations. As with almost every animal on our list, they only pose a threat if you happen to cross their path at the wrong time.
We love to spot deer grazing on the roadside, but do you know they are the reason for more than 200 human deaths a year? That's right, these easily spooked animals kill more people than bears and lions combined. How can that be?
Elephants cause roughly 500 human deaths each year, and that number is increasing. There are a couple of theories for why this is true. Elephant habitats are getting smaller, so the huge beasts are around humans more often, which can lead to more incidents of aggression.
Asian Giant Hornets
These hornets are scary for more than just their painful sting — they are the largest hornet in the world and five times bigger than an average honey bee. You can find these monstrosities flying around the skies of tropical eastern habitats, although you should cross your fingers you don't find them.
These "river horses" — the Greek meaning for their name — probably make you think of the adorable Hungry Hungry Hippos game instead of deadly water creatures. That might change when you learn that hippos kill about 500 people a year. They have even tipped over boats and bitten people's heads off. Holy river horse!
When you think of deadly animals you probably don't think of this tiny worm, but they wreak havoc worldwide and end up killing about 700 people annually. They are most prevalent in areas with questionable hygiene practices, as they get passed along in excrement.
Saltwater crocodiles are deadlier than their freshwater cousins, the alligator, by a long shot. Most of them reside in Africa, and they manage to kill a whopping 1,000 people every year. Many believe that number is actually a low estimate.
A sting from a box jellyfish isn't always fatal — if you're lucky. Many people, however, perish from the venomous sting or drown from the shock of the pain. From afar, they may look pretty and innocuous, but don't be fooled. You don't want to come across one on your ocean swim.
You've probably picked up snails along a beach at some point, but they weren't cone snails — at least, we certainly hope not. Cone snails have venomous teeth that they shoot from their bodies at passing fish, paralyzing them, so the slow snail can take his time catching up and eating it.
Horrifyingly, there are 25 different scorpion species that have venom lethal enough to kill humans. The deathstalker is merely the one with the scariest name. According to researchers’ estimates, 0.25 mg of a deathstalker's poison is enough to render two pounds of mice lifeless. That's a lot of dead mice.
Similar to the tapeworm, tsetse flies are lethal for the disease they often carry. Victims of a tsetse fly bite are exposed to sleeping sickness, a treatable illness that can be fatal if medical help isn't available. This illness resembles the flu in its beginning stages, but after a few weeks, it can leave the carrier in a coma and lead to death.
Golden Poison Dart Frogs
These bright yellow frogs look kind of cute — until you learn that each one has enough poison to kill 10 adult humans. They are tiny — usually not any bigger than a paperclip — and reside primarily in the coastal regions of Colombia.
Okay, now we’re just being ridiculous, right? Nope! This "deadly" animal tends to surprise people the most. Obviously, most dogs are friendly, fun-loving pets and protectors of the home. The fact that they're so prevalent, however, is part of what makes them so deadly, statistically speaking. Dogs kill between 25,000 to 35,000 people a year.
The number of people killed by snakes varies but is believed to be anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 a year. Many consider the black mamba to be the most dangerous snake of all. Not only are these snakes highly venomous, but they are fast and big as well.
The name pretty much says it all for this deadly insect. Also known as "kissing bugs," they tend to bite the faces of sleeping people, making their "kiss" the kiss of death. Assassin bugs carry a deadly disease called Chagas, and it spreads through the excrement they leave in the bite. Gross!
Who would have thought that insects are some of the deadliest animals on Earth? Again, mosquitos are dangerous because of the many diseases they carry with them. It doesn’t help that there are 3,000 different species with uncountable numbers all over the world. That makes it incredibly difficult to guard against them.
Are you all that surprised? No other animal comes close to being as lethal and dangerous as humans. We murder each other in the hundreds of thousands each year, not including casualties from war, and we murder large numbers of animals around us.