Supposedly Australia is a nice place, but everything there wants to seriously harm you. Really, it might be the most dangerous continent on earth — at least from the standpoint of wildlife. This isn’t news, and we’re sure you’ve seen social media spammed with funny articles about how everything in Australia wants to murder humans, but our list of the 30 most dangerous animals in Australia is different. It’s not just a collection of scary looking animals, but a list compiled by actual experts in the field who have systematically ranked the species that pose the greatest risk to human lives. We’re not being cute here; we’re serious.
This list was put together by the staff at the Australian Museum in Sydney, and they broke down the collection into 5 groups with different danger ratings. That’s right, you can further separate the most nefarious animals in Australia by just how deadly they are. The Australian Museum in Sydney started with a danger rating of 5/10, which is basically like homicidal-light, and ended with a solitary animal at the top of the body-count food chain, with a perfect 10/10 danger rating. Some might surprise you, either by even being included at all (like #2) or where they ranked on the list (#17), but
almost all of them will strike fear in the hearts of at least one person. And no, kangaroos aren’t on the list.
Danger rating: 5/10
What does a danger rating of 5/10 mean? It means that technically death is possible, but more than likely you’re just going to be suffering a lot of pain and irritation. Long-term effects aren’t likely, and people who are brutally attacked by these creatures usually recover fully.
30. Giant centipede (Ethmostigmus rubripes)
This bad boy is the largest Australian or Asian centipede — over 6″ long — with an extremely painful venom that can kill mammals and insects alike. Good news, however, it’s only moderately dangerous because it would take days of excruciating pain and no treatment for it to kill a human. So, unless you’re out trekking in the outback alone, without a means of communication and nobody knowing where you are, then you should survive… Should.
29. Bull ant (Myrmercia pilosula)
Imagine an ant that’s over half an inch long that can jump, bite you, and fill you with a deadly venom. Only in Australia, man. Only in Australia. Located mostly in Southeastern Australia and Tasmania, this frighteningly dangerous ant’s stinger is located on the underside of it’s abdomen, and it dispenses a venom that will cause loss of sensitivity in the affected area. If you want some good news, just consider the fact that 20% of these abominations don’t have any venom at all a boon, so not feeling pain from the sting isn’t necessarily a sign of you losing sensitivity.
28. Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus)
Any tick that can cause paralysis sounds like a nightmare, so why is this species of demon only rated a 5/10? Well, partially because only adult females are toxic, and paralysis is only a threat to humans if the tick is attached and sucking the blood out of you for several days. Whew, right?! You’ll probably deal with a rash or a small, painful and scratchy bump if bit, but about 1% of the world’s population will have an allergic reaction, which could be deadly. You might also contract one of the myriad diseases that ticks spread, but those aren’t unique to the Australian paralysis tick.
Danger rating: 6/10
Coming in at a danger rating of 6, these animals all have the potential to be deadly, and you’re slightly more likely to suffer a bite/sting. There is also quite a bit of pain that comes along with an attack. Treatment and medical attention are the name of the game with this group, as ignoring your wounds could turn into a date with death.
27. Blue-bellied black snake (Pseudechis guttatus)
As far as snakes go in Australia, the blue-bellied black snack is relatively harmless. It’s not aggressive, actually going out of its way to avoid humans. If you step on it, poke it, lick it, etc., then you should expect a bite by this snake, which can reach up to 6′ in length. The venom is rarely deadly to healthy humans, but it is very painful. So don’t press your luck.
26. Smooth toadfish (Tetractenos glaber)
This cutie can be found in shallow coastal and estuarine waters of southern Australia. It’s usually caught by fishermen seeking more desirable fish, and it’s completely harmless for the most part. No stingers, spikes or jaws of death. The only way this little guy will kill you is if you eat him. And eating him will kill you.
25. Reef stonefish (Synanceia verrucosa)
What’s ugly as sin and just as deadly? The reef stonefish, that’s what. With several spines on its back dispensing venom, this is the most toxic fish in the world. The spikes have been known to piece boot soles, so stepping on one of these jerks is enough to cause paralysis or death — not to mention severe pain. Chances are a healthy adult will just suffer for a few hours until an anti-venom can be administered. Old folks and kids? Eh, that’s another story altogether.
24. Redback spider (Lactodectus hasselti)
You might think this spider looks a bit familiar; that’s because it’s related to the black widow spider. You can thank it for being responsible for far more envenomations requiring anti-venom than any other creature in Australia. Yes, it bites and infects more humans than any other animal in Australia. Chances are if you’re being bitten it’s by a female spider, as the males are smaller and weak. If bitten, you can anticipate localized pain and swelling that can last for weeks if untreated. You might not die, so that’s good, but it isn’t impossible.
23. Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus)
What’s brown in winter, olive-colored in winter, and has a greater than 80% chance of killing you? The inland taipan. Located mostly in regions of Australia you probably don’t want to visit anyway, the chances of you dying from this snake are relatively slim — just because you’re unlikely to see one around Melbourne, Sydney, Perth or any other major area. At this point it probably goes without saying that the venom from this snake is very painful, blah blah, etc. If you get treatment early you probably won’t have any long-term health problems, but not getting treatment will likely cost you your life, and not getting treatment is a real risk considering the areas where this snake lives are often rural.
22. Highland copperhead (Austrelaps ramsayi)
Also known as the alpine copperhead, this serpent’s venom is about as toxic as the Indian cobra’s, only it’s able to deliver more venom with each bite. Still, by Australian standards the venom is mild, but without treatment it will kill healthy adults. Preferring flight to fight, this is a shy snake, so don’t step on it, pet it or kiss it and you’ll be fine.
21. Collett’s snake (Pseudechis colletti)
One of the prettier snakes Australia has to offer, Collett’s snake was once thought to not be that venomous, but boy was that information wrong. It’s now considered the 19th most venomous snake in the world, but somehow is still a popular pet. If bitten, you have about 24 hours to get black snake anti-venom or you’ll suffer from acute renal failure. You’ll run into these snakes in dry, rural areas mostly, so getting treatment if bitten isn’t always guaranteed, which increases the danger it poses.
20. Common lionfish (Pterois volitans)
We’re struggling to find out why the lionfish was listed so high on the Australian Museum’s list, because death isn’t very common if someone is stung. Pain? Yup. Headaches? Sure. Vomiting? Of course. Death? Not likely. Eh, they gave us the list and we’re just following it. Fun fact though, this species is taking over the Caribbean and East Coast of the U.S.!
19. Bluebottle (Physalia physalis)
More commonly referred to as the Portugese man o’ war in the United States, the bluebottle isn’t actually a single animal at all, but a colony of specialized minute individuals. You’ll find them all over the Pacific Ocean, so they aren’t unique to Australia, but they are more common there than most other places. The tentacles are very venomous to smaller marine life, and humans have been known to die from the stings. This is especially true if someone has an allergy to the venom.
Danger rating: 7/10
All of these animals are definitely deadly, even to healthy adults, whether it’s from complications of an attack or the attack itself. The risk of death is there, but it certainly isn’t imminent. If bitten/stung by these devils, there is still time for you to get treatment and survive.
18. Yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platurus)
How does paralysis sound? Or immediate renal failure? Fun, right? If this is your idea of a party just let a yellow-bellied sea snake bite you. You aren’t guaranteed to die, but since you’ll be in the ocean when the venom begins its assault against your body, the chances are pretty good you’ll bite the dust. The venom might not kill you, but it’s not uncommon for people to drown after a face-to-face meeting with a yellow-bellied sea snake.
17. Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
You had to wonder when the white shark was going to make an appearance on this list. Here we are, at number #17, no venom needed. The white shark is just 2,000+ pounds of flesh and teeth. Honestly, though, they aren’t the deadliest animals around around Australia. In fact, they kill fewer people than many other creatures on this list. Great whites attack a lot more people than they kill, because they really have no intention of eating humans. They essentially participate in a catch and release program with us. You might get severely maimed, but what is it to sacrifice a leg or two to live?
16. Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus)
If you look closely you can see the banding (stripes) that get this venomous snake its name. “Tiger snake” is actually a name for several different types of subspecies with varying color patterns, but all at least showing some banding. They’re scattered throughout Southern Australia and into Tasmania. Mortality rates for people bitten by these freaks is anywhere between 40-60% — even with treatment. Anti-venom can save your life, but many people quickly develop breathing problems and suffer from paralysis, reducing the likelihood of reaching safety.
15. Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
Wait a minute. There is a shark deadlier than the great white? Yeah, and the tiger shark is one such fish. More aggressive than your typical great white, tiger sharks routinely hang out closer to shore, in harbors or estuaries, where people are more likely to be swimming and surfing. It’s for this reason that they pose a greater risk to human life. The likelihood of attack and death are still relatively low, but being permanently injured is very likely after an attack.
14. Red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
You already met the blue-bellied black snake earlier in this list, and the two share very similar venom types, so why is one so much higher on the list? Because this inconsiderate jerk hangs out in more populated areas, which greatly increases the number of attacks. If you visit Australia, you might actually find yourself face to face with one of these anywhere along the east coast of the country.
13. Mulga snake (Pseudechis australis)
There are a lot of names we’d like to call this snake, because it’s a downright vicious creature. Most snakes won’t attack humans unless provoked, but the mulga snake (or King Brown snake) has been known to bite people asleep in their beds. Its venom isn’t particularly potent, but it produces and distributes such a large quantity that it causes more problems than cousins with more toxins. You can find these guys all over Australia really, except for the southern and eastern coasts.
12. Dugite or spotted brown snake (Pseudonaja affinis)
Don’t let the name fool you — these guys aren’t always brown. They can be green, grey or various shades of brown. You can best identify them by the head shape, which sort of just flows into the body, and at maturity they will be about 6+’ long. If that’s not enough to scare you, they also have some of the most potent venom in the world, which can cause your blood to either not clot or to clot too easily. Either way you might die. Oh, and the snake is a protected species, so killing or harming one comes with a hefty fine.
11. Cone shells (Conus sp.)
Cone shells are a large genus of marine predatory snails with really pretty shells that people like to pick up and collect. Cool, nice and all. Most are so small that their harpoons, which dispense their venom, are useless against humans, but larger ones can easily pierce swimsuits and wetsuits. What makes them dangerous? First, people like to pick them up and look at the pretty shells, often holding them in unprotected hands. This just invites getting poked. Two, sometimes symptoms don’t show up for days, at which time you might be out of reach of the anti-venom. Symptoms include muscle paralysis and respiratory failure.
So don’t touch the pretty shells in Australia. Even they will try to kill you.
10.Common death adder (Acanthopis antarticus)
With a name that includes the word death in it, you shouldn’t be surprised that these guys are dangerous. Located all over Eastern Australia and the Southern Coast, death adders are the fastest striking snakes in Australia, and their venom can cause sensory loss, disorientation, paralysis and eventually death. Over 50% of attacks result in death before an anti-venom can be administered.
9. Coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)
It says a lot about Australia that a snake this dangerous is only at #9 on this list. The coastal taipan is native to Australia’s northeastern coast, and can deliver up to 400mg of venom per bite. At those quantities people may die in as few as 30 minutes. What are the pleasant side effects of its bite? Well, for starters you’ll get headaches, but you might also suffer from internal bleeding, kidney failure, paralysis and, if untreated, death. Luckily it doesn’t like confrontation, so look where you step if you don’t want to end up in a coffin.
The coastal taipan has the 3rd most potent venom of any land snake in the world, but luckily bites aren’t that common. Before an anti-venom was produced, attacks were almost 100% fatal.
8. Blue-ringed octopus (Genus Hapalochlaena)
Blue-ringed octopi are relatively docile, and they won’t walk up to you on the street and slap you across the face with their poisonous tentacles. They will, however, sting you if you step on them in one of the coastal tide pools in Northwest or Southern Australia. The main toxin in its venom is over 1,200 times more potent than cyanide, and people can die in a matter of minutes. Some people suffer partial or full paralysis, heart or lung failure, but most die from suffocation when their diaphragm stops working. But, and this is good news, if someone is able to provide continual CPR, most people can regain motor skills and eventually make a recovery.
Danger rating: 8/10
These animals are 100% percent deadly, even if death isn’t 100% guaranteed. Anti-venoms and medical treatment can save lives when these animals attack, but sometimes there isn’t too much that can be done.
7. Sydney funnel web spider (Atrax robustus)
So, these punks aren’t really dangerous to mammals other than humans and other primates, as something in their venom reacts only with our chemical makeup. Fun, huh? The quickest death from one of their bites occurred within 15 minutes, but that was a child, so adults should expect a longer window to get treatment. The biggest threat is just how quickly the venom acts and how good these creatures are at getting it in your body. Their fangs are larger than many snakes’, and far more powerful. They can even pierce a human fingernail. Oh, and they hang out in urban areas and inside all the time — like in hotel rooms.
6. Saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
You knew these had to be coming up. Unlike some of the spiders, fish, snakes and other crap on this list, you have almost complete control over getting eaten by a crocodile. Australia has made every effort to keep people from swimming in areas where crocs live, so look for the warning signs and swim only where there are deadly octopi, snails, snakes and fish for crying out loud.
5. Eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
The second most venomous snake in the world is the eastern brown snake, but not every bite releases its bevy of toxins into its pray. Usually the first bite is a warning, and the second is the potential death blow. Despite being so toxic, the mortality rate is around 20% since each bite provides relatively little venom. But, if you do get a dose of venom, you probably deserved it. Like we said, the first bite is usually venom-less. If bitten twice, enjoy the diarrhea, dizziness, paralysis and cardiac arrest — oh, and some random blood clotting, increasing your risk of having a stroke.
4. Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
Were you expecting a third shark on the list? The bull shark is a bit unique, as it’s one of the few dangerous sharks to prefer living in shallow water, and it easily transitions from salt to fresh water and back again. This isn’t common, and these behaviors often put it in the same environments as humans. Combine that with it’s aggressiveness and relative lack of patience for things in its general vicinity, and that makes the bull shark more dangerous than either the great white or tiger shark. Enjoy swimming in Australia. May we suggest a pool?
Danger rating: 9/10
A danger rating of 9 means it’s time to say a prayer and hope for the best. Death isn’t guaranteed, mind you, but it’s Australia, so anything can happen.
3. Irukandji (Carukia barnesi)
This little guy reaches only about 1″ in total length, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in debilitating toxins it’s happily willing to share with you. From Australian Geographic, “Thirty minutes after a mild sting, irukandji syndrome symptoms can include severe lower back pain; excruciating muscle cramps in limbs, abdomen and chest; and sweating, anxiety, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, headache, palpitations, life-threatening hypertension, pulmonary oedema and toxic global heart dilatation.” Oh, they didn’t mention it, but add brain hemorrhaging to the list. They just randomly show up during the summers on Australia’s northern coast, but they’re so hard to see that you’ll never even know they’re coming. Remember, all of this comes from a mild sting, so you might not even notice you were stung until the side effects come along.
2. Honey bee (Apis mellifera)
A honey bee is the third most dangerous animal in Australia, and no, we’re not joking. We’re specifically talking about the European honey bee, or western honey bee, which was introduced to Australia by the Brits a long time ago. So, why is it so dangerous? Allergies. Bee stings are fairly common, and when a bee stings its victim it leaves behind the stinger and a sack of venom. People with severe allergies might die as a result. Luckily they are very docile, so you’d have to go out of your way to get stung. And no, we aren’t making this up. The honey bee actually made the list at #2.
Danger rating: 10/10
This means if you get too close to this animal that you should just expect to die. You might not, but you should expect to nonetheless.
1. Box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri)
Many readers were probably expecting another spider, or maybe a snake to top the list, but it turns out that it’s one of the simplest organisms on earth that has the chance to be the most deadly. Depending on the size of the jellyfish that stings you, you’ll either experience excruciating pain and stinging or you’ll die within 3 to 5 minutes. The tentacles on these things can reach almost 10ft in length, and the more length to them the more venom they can inject into you. You could be swimming one minute, get stung, lose motor skills, go into cardiac arrest, or drown. Though stings are fairly rare, they do not usually end well. Avoid Australia’s northern coast during the summer (our winter). Whether it’s these, crocodiles, sharks or the Irukandji, not much good can come from a dip in the water around there.