What is the Most Dangerous Animal in Australia?
Australia is well known for having more than its fair share of dangerous animals. When it comes to most dangerous animal, what would you pick? Let’s consider the options but before we do, a promise. There are no photos of venomous snakes, hairy spiders, or menacing crocodile eyes anywhere in this post. I looked at all of the nightmare-inducing images while doing my research so that you wouldn’t have to. You are welcome.
Australia’s Most Dangerous Animals
Lists of Australia’s most dangerous animals abound. There’s a top 10 list, top 21, top 30. I’ve just chosen six. If we define most dangerous as resulting in human death, do you think the award goes to one of these creatures or to something else? Note that you shouldn’t give ‘humans’ as an answer. It’s an unfortunate truth that we are the most dangerous animals of all, whether to ourselves (drowning, car accidents etcetera) or to others. But in this post, we’re not including ourselves, just other animals.
There are more deadly snakes in Australia than in any other country in the world. The worst is the inland taipan whose bite contains enough venom to kill several people. Good news is that the inland taipan is located in a remote desert in southwestern Queensland and, even there, is difficult to find. There have been no known deaths of humans from this snake. But before you breathe a sigh of relief, the eastern brown snake is no fun either. It is found wherever there are mice, meaning in populated areas. Until an antivenom was developed, more than 80% of people poisoned by the eastern brown snake died, often within an hour.
The saltwater crocodile has the most powerful bite of any species on earth, ten times more powerful than that of the great white shark. They are also fast – up to 18 miles or 27 kms. per hour. Oh, and aggressive.
Great White Sharks
The danger from these creatures is overrated. Great white sharks are responsible for an average of one death a year, worldwide. As one naturalist joked, “You’re more likely to be eaten by a domestic cat.” Bull sharks? That’s another story. Don’t let your dog go swimming.
The pain caused by the sting of a stinging stonefish can kill you. This description from venom researcher Bryan Fry makes me shudder –“It produces such mind-blowing agony that the body goes into shock and the person dies.”
This jellyfish can kill you in a matter of minutes. Its many almost invisible tentacles entangle you, and its harpoons inject a lot of venom at one time.
One of the worst spiders is the Sydney funnel-web. Its fangs are so powerful they can pierce through shoe leather and toenails. Its venom is reportedly twice as strong as cyanide. Fortunately, there have been no deaths from this spider since an anti-venom was developed in 1981. If you are bitten, hope it was by a female. Only male Sydney funnel-webs deliver deadly bites.
And the Winner of Australia’s Most Dangerous Animal is…
Australia’s most dangerous animal is the horse. More people died being thrown from or trampled by a horse than from bites or stings.
You will find more statistics at Statista
The lesson here is not that we should be afraid of horses. Nor is it that sharks, spiders, snakes and jellyfish aren’t dangerous. Rather, it’s about perception. We think that deaths from venomous animals and animals with powerful jaws occur more frequently than they do because such deaths are well covered in the media. They are sensational, dramatic, and unusual.
So when you visit Australia, keep an eye out for the spiders, snakes and crocodiles. And, perhaps more important, make sure your horseback riding is done at a reputable stable!
Were you surprised? What did you think would take top honours as Australia’s most dangerous animal? Please leave your comment below.