Many animals put our lives in danger, and unfortunately, it's a reality we have to face. It's the circle of life and something we've come to understand and accept. But the most dangerous animals in the world may not be what you expect.
Alligators are frightening creatures, particularly because of their wide jaws and rows of small, sharp teeth. They have a bad reputation, so it may surprise you that these snappy reptiles have the lowest body count on this list.
On average, they kill about three people per year in the US. That's right, Alligators actually kill fewer people per year than lightning does! Most Alligator males grow between eight to ten feet, with some growing as long as fifteen. At that size, it's a shock that they aren't more deadly!
Just like alligators, wolves have also been frightening their human neighbors for centuries. But while wolves often wreak devastation on livestock, they don’t kill many people. There are only a small handful of deaths from wolf attacks per year, and some are reportedly from rabid wolves.
Contrast these numbers with the hundreds of wolves that are killed per year by humans in the US. Often this is as retaliation for killing livestock, but this often backfires. Disruption to a pack structure (which occurs when a member dies) often leads to wolves killing more livestock than usual.
Jaws was a hit movie for a reason! Virtually everyone can relate to the fear of seeing a dark shadow and grey fin moving towards us in the water. But the truth is that shark attacks aren’t very common, and deaths from attacks even less so. Around 150 people are attacked by sharks per year, and between six to ten actually die from it.
And it should be noted that not all of those attacks are unprovoked. Sharks are killed by humans at a rate of over 11,000 per hour, primarily because of the shark-fin soup market or by catch (creatures caught when fishermen and trawlers are looking for a different species). When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to blame them.
36. The Deadliest Sharks
As it turns out, sharks that actually kill those few humans per year are from particular shark species'. Great white sharks are a great example, as they are technically the deadliest shark species because they are responsible for the most attacks in history.
The other deadliest shark species' are tiger sharks and bull sharks. Both are often willing to eat anything, hence why they occasionally take a chance on humans. All other "deadly" species' are recorded as having only 30 or fewer attacks on humans. Of the 400+ shark species', most have never attacked a human.
Although we’ve come to view bears as cuddly, child-friendly creatures that we like to turn into soft toys and cartoon characters for children, real bears are a very different animal. They are responsible for mauling 12 people to death per year around the world.
The most aggressive breed of bear is likely the sloth bear, despite being a herbivore. This may be because of the bears' proximity to tigers, who will often attempt to eat them. In general, bears only kill humans during accidental encounters, particularly if they have cubs.
Spiders may be the most feared species of insects globally, but they definitely aren’t the deadliest. Most spiders aren’t capable of killing humans, and only approximately seven people die each year after being bitten by black widows or brown recluses. The majority of lethal types of spiders reside strictly in Australia.
Since antivenom was invented for the funnel-web and redback spiders, Australians face less risk when being bitten. In 2016, the first Australian in 37 years died from spider venom, but many of the poisonous pests' bites aren’t severe enough to kill a person. However, plenty of people still are hospitalized because of them.
33. The Most Venomous Spider
Though Australia has some of the most dangerous spider species' globally, the most venomous and deadly spider belongs to Brazil and is aptly named the Brazilian wandering spider. There are different species of these spiders, and they all live in Brazil and Latin America.
Brazilian wandering spiders don’t build webs to catch food; Instead, they wander forest floors stalking reptiles, mice, and other spiders. Their bites are incredibly painful and can induce nausea, hypothermia, and a variety of other symptoms. Though enough of their venom is lethal, antivenin can be taken to avoid this.
Many of us tend to view ants as annoying more than anything - we wash them out of our kitchens and destroy their nests if they get in the way. So would you believe that around 30 people a year are killed by ants? As it turns out, there are more than 10,000 species of this insect, and not all of them are harmless.
For example, fire ants are well known for their aggressive nature and can kill humans with their sting as it can induce an allergic reaction. Driver ants, on the other hand, can eat an immobile person whole! In the US alone, approximately nine people each year die from ants stings and bites.
31. The Deadliest Ant
But the title of most dangerous ant in the world goes to the bulldog ant due to its aggressive sting and toxic venom. Bulldog ants use their mandibles to clamp onto the skin before injecting their venom. They bite several times to inject even more venom.
It’s probably not a shock to hear that this dangerous insect also lives in Australia. What’s even scarier is that despite their minuscule size, particularly in comparison to humans, they reportedly have no fear of people. Thankfully only three fatalities from bulldog ant bites have been recorded since 1936.
Yes, you read that right. The common barnyard cow is on this list, but let us explain why. While we tend to see cows as slow and harmless creatures, they can be aggressive animals in some situations, and humans have been killed by cows on a few unfortunate occasions.
They have charged people off cliffs, attacked farmers and dogs, and have even ganged up on humans! Perhaps they wanted revenge on all of the cows that passed away at the hands of humans. Whatever it is, around 20 Americans lose their lives to cows each year; Some instances are accidental, though.
Horses are one of the world's most beloved animals, so if you're a horse girl (or guy), you may want to overlook this section. Truthfully, around 20 people lose their lives to horses per year in the US and several more in Australia. And chances are, the numbers may be even higher around the globe.
Keep in mind that many of these tragedies result from people falling from their horses, so death by horse can be easily avoided for the most part. Occasionally horses do attack humans, but it's relatively uncommon. However, these numbers hardly compare to the number of horses that die on the racetrack every year.
Here's the kind of animal that many people might expect to see on this list. The kings of the jungle are majestic beings, but they're not the type you'd want to be stuck in a room with. Lions are wild animals, and as such, they will often kill (and in some cases, eat) around 250 people each year. But why do some eat humans?
Scientists may have found the answer. In 1898, a pair of lions in Kenya killed many railroad workers, between 35 and 135. They were eventually found and euthanized, and their skulls were later inspected by researchers. So, what did they find? Damaged teeth and jaws, which may explain why they preyed on humans.
Believe it or not, lions are not the deadliest cats around. That award goes to the black-footed cat, a wild mammal that is smaller than most house cats. The truth is they aren’t killing humans, but they do make more attacks than any other cat breed or species, killing around 10 to 14 rodents and birds per night.
These prolific little lions only successfully catch prey about 25 percent of the time, but they need to hunt as much as possible. They have an enormous appetite and abnormally fast metabolism, so they spend much of their time stalking the grassland of Africa.
Just like their feline cousins, tigers are an equally feared yet adored figure in the animal kingdom. But in India, they're even more dangerous. Because the country has such a large population, tigers and humans live relatively close to each other. So, in India, around 100 people a year lose their lives from tiger attacks!
Tales of man versus tiger are notorious and likely due to injuries or because they can't control their territory enough to find appropriate food. But realistically, just like bears, most tigers will attack humans during accidental run-ins in the wild.
25. Box Jellyfish
A single box jellyfish contains enough venom to kill 60 people, so you can probably see why they appear on this list. These translucent creatures inject their toxic venom into the bloodstream and eventually stop a person's heart. This leads to the deaths of around 100 people per year.
But, some people pass away because of this animal for other reasons - from shock, because the pain of a box jellyfish's sting is so intense. Thankfully, not everyone stung by these strange creatures will die, as there is a treatment for the jellyfish venom.
24. Bees, Wasps, and Hornets
Most people are aware of the pain a bee sting brings but did you know they can be life-threatening? In a year, roughly 100 people lose their lives to stings from bees, wasps, or hornets. Some deaths are caused by multiple stings, but most result from severe allergic reactions. In the US, around 58 people die per year from bee stings.
The best way to avoid a potential fatal run-in is to make sure you carry your EpiPen with you at all times because bees aren’t the harmless honey-making creatures you think they are. Despite the potential danger, bees are essential for food pollination, so be sure not to harm them when you encounter them.
23. The Most Venomous Hornet
The Asian great hornet is likely the deadliest among all bees, wasps, and hornets. It is five times bigger than the average bee and the largest known hornet globally, with deadly venom that can kill as many as 40 bees in a minute. If any flying insect should be avoided, it’s this one.
Asian giant hornets are so deadly due to their venom’s effect on red blood cells - they can cause kidney failure and eventual death. Many also pass away from allergies to its poison. In Japan alone, around 40 people die from this venom annually, and survivors have described the sting as feeling like a hot nail piercing the skin.
22. Cape Buffalo
Cape buffaloes are not as slow and peaceful as they might look, and in fact, they are often called “widowmakers” or “The Black Death” in some African hunting circles. If wounded by hunters, they are known to circle back to attack the human as retribution for being shot.
Some estimates put the Cape Buffalo body count at around 200 people per year. They don’t exclusively kill humans either - some instances have occurred where a Cape buffalo has retaliated against prowling lions, killing them in the ensuing battle. Buffalos will often fling the lions into the air during these scuffles.
There isn't a surplus of data on Leopard-related deaths, but estimates sit in the hundreds per year. Like their feline cousins, the lions and tigers, leopards are also known to feast on humans on occasion, and there are several recorded examples throughout history.
In fact, single leopards have been known to kill over 100 people on their own, and for this reason, leopard kills per year can vary considerably if particular animals are inactive. Often when these specific leopards are "out of action," leopard deaths are usually attributed to accidents.
Now, this animal might come as a shock! Bambi fans may want to look away because these peaceful, passive creatures are responsible for more than 240 deaths per year. Never fear, though - these deaths aren’t the result of deer attacks, but simply because of an unfortunate accident.
Some deer have been known for running or jumping onto roads when drivers least expect it, leading to catastrophic car crashes and, sometimes, fatalities. This is particularly sad as these tragic meetings not only result in the deaths of the human drivers but often the death of the deer as well.
Deer aren’t the only animals with poor navigation skills. In Africa, kudu antelope share the same habit of straying too far on the road and colliding with drivers. While we don’t know exact statistics, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that these animals kill more people than crocodiles in Namibia.
And just like deer, the unfortunate kudu frequently passes away in these collisions as well. A factor contributing to these sad incidents is that kudus are drawn to areas with more human habitation, where they can find abandoned farmland and pastures.
If the Disney film Dumbo is what you think of when speaking about elephants, you may want to think again. These enormous animals aren't always the shy, endearing creatures they appear to be in friendly children's movies; They actually take the lives of around 500 humans per year.
And sadly, those numbers are rising every year, as many natural elephant habitats are being destroyed due to land development, forcing them to be closer to humans. Some researchers believe that PTSD is the root cause of these attacks, as elephants may have a genetic memory of being hunted.
Hippos may look like cute and cuddly aquatic mammals, but they're also aggressively territorial and can weigh as much as 6000 pounds, which is often a lethal combination. As many as 500 people per year are killed by these animals. Hippo mothers will often attack humans encroaching on their territory to defend their calves.
Hippos can attack in all kinds of ways - whether trampling people, pulling them into the water and drowning them, tipping boats and even biting heads off. Like elephants, hippo attacks have risen over the years as hippos have had their habitats invaded by humans, causing them to become defensive.
Tapeworms may be one of the most unpleasant animals on earth, and though modern medicine has come far, these little critters still kill 700 souls per year. They spread cysticercosis, a disease contracted through human excrement. Their unnatural alienesque nature makes them one of the least appealing animals on this list.
Most tapeworm-related tragedies occur in developing countries due to poor hygiene in these areas. Victims will sometimes eat contaminated food containing tapeworm eggs. It’s also prevalent in animals like pigs, who sometimes consume human feces.
Many people confuse crocodiles and alligators, but when it comes to fatalities, they are quite different. Crocodiles are responsible for as many as 1000 deaths per year, though many go unreported. This is partly because they often live close to humans without being noticed (until it's too late).
In Africa, crocodiles often compete with hippos and buffalos as the continent's deadliest large animal, but crocs always come out on top. Many people in Africa believe that crocodiles are controlled by witches and spirits, the true culprits behind their prolific body count.
Of the 2000 scorpion species worldwide, only 25 types have potentially lethal venom. Altogether these species kill around 3,250 per year. But one of these species has a monopoly on these tragedies: the Brazilian yellow scorpion, the deadliest of its kind. These scorpions sting thousands of humans per year.
Sadly, these high numbers are because the antivenom for a Brazillian yellow sting isn’t always effective. What’s even worse is that it can cause allergic reactions, so the cure is worse than the “disease” for some people. It’s best to stay as far away from these critters as possible.
13. The Most Venomous Scorpion
But the Brazilian yellow scorpion isn’t the most venomous spider in the world - that honor goes to the Deathstalker Scorpion, a Middle Eastern scorpion species that hunts worms and centipedes. These scorpions paralyze their prey with one sting but withhold injecting all their venom in one go.
According to researchers, the Deathstalker can kill two pounds worth of mice with just 0.25 mg of its venom, making it technically the most potent of all scorpion venoms, though it is hard to measure its effect on humans. This is also because scorpions have evolved to use their poison differently.
12. Ascaris Roundworms
As unpleasant as its cousins, the tapeworm, Ascaris roundworms kill around 4,500 people per year. They spread ascariasis disease through populations in warm and humid climates. The disease itself is uncommon in the US, and just like tapeworms and cysticercosis, it spreads in areas where poor hygiene is common.
Ascaris roundworms impact the intestines of their victims and spread to other host bodies through excrement. The worms spread incredibly quickly and further afield in excrement that contains dirt and water or that reaches food. Thankfully, Ascariasis is easily treatable.
11. Tsetse Flies
The tsetse fly is best known for spreading sleeping sickness through rural communities in Africa. Around 5,000 cases are recorded every year though this doesn’t include those who pass away as a result. It’s believed that many more people contract the disease without being reported.
Though there is a cure for sleeping sickness, numerous people in poor and rural communities simply don’t have access to it. But fortunately, there are fewer cases of infection every year, dropping from 40,000 back in 1998 to 5,000 just two decades later.
10. Kissing Bugs
Called the “assassin bug” by some, kissing bugs are responsible for over 10,000 deaths each year. It spreads the Chagas disease through its own excrement that is laid on people’s skin. These lethal creepy-crawlies are found in Latin America, so if you’re considering a holiday, make sure to take precautions!
Kissing bugs are often found biting people while they sleep, making it difficult to avoid them. This sneaky nighttime behavior is how they got their name due to their unwanted “kisses.” You may have heard of a Dementor’s “kiss of death” in the Harry Potter series, but kissing bugs give a whole new meaning to the phrase.
They may be man's best friend, but they can just as quickly become an enemy. Dogs are responsible for between 25,000 and 35,000 deaths per year. However, these tragedies aren't always the dog's fault - many of these cases are attributed to untreated rabies spread from dog to human.
Dogs can be vaccinated, but unfortunately, this isn't common practice in African, Asian, and Latin American countries. This is a significant contributor to the high number of rabies-related deaths in the world. So let that be a lesson to all dog-owners - get your pooch vaccinated! A visit to the vet could save you both.
8. Blood Flukes (via Freshwater Snails)
Yes, blood flukes are about as sinister as their name implies. These creatures (also known as schistosomes) infect people with schistosomiasis and grow in freshwater snails. These worms are contracted by humans who touch the snails' contaminated water and only need contact with skin to enter the system.
Once in the human body, they reside in the liver, veins, and urinary tract and lay their worms in these areas. Like most other parasitic worms, they can also be spread through excrement and are most prolific in poor communities in Africa, South America, and the Middle East.
7. The Most Venomous Snail
While blood flukes only live in freshwater snails and use them to move between hosts, some snails can cause damage all on their own. For example, marine cone snails are known for their venom-filled teeth that they use to paralyze passing fish to catch and devour them.
But fish aren’t the only ones who fall victim to the cone snail, as their teeth are sharp enough to pierce wetsuits too. What’s even worse is that their venom is also fatal to humans who don’t receive immediate medical treatment. Despite this, only 36 deaths from core snail bites have been recorded in modern history.
Many people would consider snakes to be one of the scariest animals on the planet. And for a good reason; These slithering creatures have an annual death toll that sits somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000. Taipan snakes are likely the most prolific, as their venom can kill more than 100 people with a single bite.
Taipans live in Australia, but other countries face far more significant snake problems, like India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Places worldwide are full of these poisonous reptiles, including areas in Africa, Latin America, East Asia. Despite all of the tragedies in Australia, only a few people per year pass away from snakebites.
5. Most Venomous Snake
As mentioned previously, the inland taipan is likely the most venomous snake known to man. Though it doesn’t have the most venom, the small amount it has is incredibly potent. Thankfully the taipan lives in desertland, far from most human habitation.
The reason taipan venom is so lethal is because of the neurotoxins it contains, which trigger seizures, slurred speech, and loss of control over the limbs. It also has neurotoxins that cause internal bleeding. Interestingly enough, most taipan bites aren’t from an accidental meeting but from being mishandled by snake-wranglers.
Mosquitoes may seem like the most commonplace animal on this list, and for many people around the world, they are entirely harmless. But this certainly isn’t true for everyone - every year, mosquitos kill around 725,000 people through the transmission of malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
Most mosquito-related deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Many people don’t realize that though some people pass away from these diseases, millions survive but suffer greatly. Mosquitos are such a scourge in some countries that scientists are trying to use gene editing to eliminate them.
3. Malaria Vaccine
Scientists have also spent a lot of time and funding trying to solve the problem of malaria. Though mosquito nets, insecticides, and other manual methods have helped lower mortality rates, the disease has developed drug-resistance over time, so more funding and research efforts are needed.
To combat this devastating disease, scientists worldwide are working toward the development of a malaria vaccine. Unfortunately, unlike many other diseases, malaria can be contracted multiple times, as catching it once does not result in immunization.
2. Malaria Vaccine Pt. 2
Though manufacturing a vaccine successfully has been difficult, science is steadily making progress, and researchers haven't given up. In Malawi, for example, scientists are testing an advanced vaccine. However, it's still far from perfect as children need four separate shots before they turn two, and it's still only 40 percent effective.
It has also been tested in Kenya, with more promising results. These trials have shown a reduction in malaria cases of around 30 percent, which is a significant improvement. Many are still worried that the disease will mutate and become resistant to this new vaccine, which is, unfortunately, a realistic possibility.
Some find this the least surprising entry on the list - the human race is by far the most destructive kind of animal on planet earth. As many as 437,000 people pass away because of tragedies with their own species per year. This doesn’t even include modern fatalities during war, which were as high as 135,000 as of 2017.
But human creativity is unstoppable; Sadly, people have found countless ways to harm one another. From traffic accidents alone, there are over a million deaths per year. China and India share over 200,000 road-related fatalities annually. Evidently, the second-most dangerous animal in the world doesn’t come close to human beings.