What are the most dangerous creatures in Australia?
Australia has diverse and beautiful wildlife, but among those many creatures come many dangers. What animals should you avoid in the Land Down Under? Here’s our Answer.
Common LionfishWith seventeen venomous fin spines, this gorgeous fish found all over Australia’s coasts is an extreme danger to swimmers. Their natural defense mechanism of extending their dorsal fins towards predators allows them to survive amongst even deadlier creatures of the sea.
BluebottleAlso known as the Pacific Man-of-War, the Bluebottle is actually not a single animal, but a colony of four kinds of zooids that are dependant on one another for survival. Common on Australian beaches, Bluebottles are responsible for between 10-30,000 stings per year. Although no fatalities have been reported in the Southern Hemisphere, its cousin on the other side of the world has been behind several deaths.
Yellow-bellied sea snakeThis species can be found in oceans all over the world, save the Atlantic, but are most common off the northern coast of Australia. Having never developed the ability to survive on land, this venomous snake has no natural predators. Although its venom is certainly deadly, no deaths have been reported from the yellow-bellied sea snake in the Land Down Under.
Great White SharkNot much needs to be said about the infamous ocean hunter, except that its mythical status as a top predator to man is not necessarily true. Of the 100+ annual shark attacks that occur throughout the world, less than one-half are by great whites, and are usually not fatal. Still, we hope to never see one of these in the wild.
Tiger SnakeThis striped snake poses a dangerous threat to humans, often growing in size as it consumes larger prey throughout the course of its life. Although they generally prefer escape over conflict, a cornered tiger snake will inflate and deflate its body to scare other creatures away, lashing out and biting forcefully if its warning is not heeded.
Tiger SharkPreferring warm water, these migratory sharks are dangerous to encounter during various seasons all over the world. The only shark species to regularly hunt sea turtles, these massive ocean predators also have an incredible birth rate - with females averaging thirty shark pups in one birth.
Red-bellied black snakePreferring moist habitats, this animal can be found all throughout Queensland, being one of the most frequently encountered snakes on the east coast of Australia. When approached in the wild, a red-bellied black snake will often freeze to avoid detection. If left with no escape route, this medium-sized snake will rear its head and deliver a powerful bite, often latching onto its victim for further chewing.
Mulga snakeFound all over Australia, the Mulga Snake can adapt well to its environment, having a wide variety of foods that it can enjoy. Its temperament can change significantly depending on its habitat, and its bite is powerful, delivering a large amount of highly toxic venom. Despite its alternative name as the King Brown Snake, the mulga snake is actually a member of the black snake genus Pseudechis.
Spotted black snakeAlso known as the Blue-bellied Black Snake, this large creature usually appears shy, but can deliver a deadly dose of venom. Not much is actually known about the blue-bellied slitherer due to its similar look to both its cousin, the Red-bellied Black Snake, and the Eastern Brown Snake, but we do know to avoid them at all costs.
Cone snailsThe cone snail family consists of between 500 and 600 individual species, 166 of which occur in Australian waters. Found all over Australia’s coasts, Cone Snails are active predators who are usually on the prowl at night. Although they can produce gorgeous shells, they can contain very sharp barbs that are connected to a venom gland, making them an extremely dangerous encounter on the beach.
Common death adderNormally feeding on a diet that consists of frogs, lizards, and birds, this predator actively searches for prey in various areas of Australia. Covering itself with leaves makes it inconspicuous as it lies coiled in ambush, twitching its yellowish grub-like tail close to its head as a lure. With relatively large fangs and toxic venom, this species’ bites to humans resulted in fatalities about 60% of the time, before the wide introduction of antivenom.
Coastal taipanDistinguished by its pale face and snout from other brown snakes, the Coastal Taipan is often regarded as one of the most dangerous snakes in Australia. It is extremely nervous and alert, meaning any movement near it can trigger a deadly attack. Before the introduction of a specific antivenom in 1956, a Taipan bite was nearly always fatal.
Blue-ringed OctopusThese gorgeous animals appear more friendly at first, leading to the unfortunate trend of small children picking them up on the beach. Delivering a bite that can barely be felt if at all, the blue-ringed octopus can deliver a venom that’s symptoms include numbness of the mouth, followed by complete paralysis of the breathing muscles.
Sydney funnel web spiderFavoring urban environments and forests, the Sydney funnel-web spider can bite with powerful results. The neurotoxin present in its venom attacks the human nervous system, making this spider among the scariest. Thankfully, since the introduction of antivenom, there have been no fatalities from this creepy crawler.
Saltwater crocodileThe largest of all living reptiles, this iconic Australian predator will violently defend its home in wet areas along the North Coast from any human invaders. After receiving protection in the 1970s, the Saltwater crocodile’s encounter rate with humans has steadily increased, leading to deadly consequences. A person seized in the water by this enormous predator has little chance of escaping without serious injury. The resulting wounds are usually horrific, and likely to become infected.
Eastern brown snakeWidespread throughout Eastern Australia, the Eastern Brown Snake has proven itself as a worthy threat to human beings. Able to thrive in heavily populated areas, this easily disturbed menace strikes with little hesitation. And although its initial bite may seem painless and even hard to detect, it can deliver an extremely powerful venom that is potent in small doses. One bite from this snake can cause progressive paralysis, and uncontrollable bleeding, making it the deadliest snake in all of Australia.
Bull sharkResponsible for most shark attacks near Sydney, the bull shark is a fierce predator. Because it is the only widely distributed shark that stays in fresh water for long periods of time, swimmers have encountered these terrifying creatures in very unsuspecting places. More aggressive than a Great White or a Tiger Shark, the Bull Shark is omnivorous, leading to way more attacks than its cousins.
IrukandjiSending on average between 50 and 100 people to the hospital annually, this tiny creature cannot be judged by its size. The stings of an Irukandji jellyfish can cause fatal brain hemorrhages, respiratory failure, and even cardiac arrest. Known as “Irukandji syndrome,” the symptoms of this miniscule jellyfish’s attack are of the most serious.
Honey beeIntroduced by Australia’s early European settlers, honey bees can be extremely deadly. Defending their homes aggressively, a sting from a honey bee is only dangerous should the victim be allergic. In Australia, honey bees are responsible for at least one death every year, but that doesn’t completely outweigh their benefit, as two-thirds of Australia’s food crops rely on pollination. Because of this industry necessity, the insect is worth an estimated $1.7 billion a year for the national economy.
Box jellyfishNamed for their rigid-looking shape, the Box Jellyfish takes the top spot on this list, as not just the most dangerous animal in Australia, but possibly the entire world. Their up to 60 tentacles are covered in nematocysts, which are like tiny darts loaded with poison. A person stung by a Box Jellyfish can experience paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death, all within a few minutes of contact. Combine that with their top speed of over 2 meters per second, and you have yourself the world’s deadliest marine animal.
If you are planning a trip to Australia, we recommend visiting the Austrailian Museum’s website to become more familiar with safety tips around the land down under’s dangerous creatures.