While statistics show that mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on earth, causing a staggering 725,000 deaths every year, the truth is, no-one travels half way round the world to see mosquitoes. Annually, millions of tourists travel to Africa, South America, Asia and even Antarctica, to experience adventure, and to see wild animals in their natural habitats. As much as these adventures are fun, they sometimes pose a serious danger to unsuspecting adventurers.
Crazy and scary stories ranging from the Russian tourist eaten alive by an Indonesian crocodile, to the woman killed by a lion through the open window of her car while on a South African safari, prove that nature is red in tooth and claw, and adventure tourists better keep that in mind! Well, in these cases, a lion and crocodile are obviously dangerous and vicious animals. But, did you know that there are some cute wild beasties that could easily fool you into thinking they are harmless?
Seems petrifying right? Well, don’t cancel that holiday of a lifetime just yet. As long as you follow your guides’ instructions upon arrival, and remember to steer clear of these 15 beautiful yet deadly animals, you will definitely have a fantastic time.
It might be difficult to believe that these cute critters could be anything more than a nuisance, knocking over trash cans, and stealing leftover picnic food, but you shouldn’t let their adorable little robber masks fool you. Raccoons will happily gang up to attack cats, dogs and even humans, if they feel that they are being threatened. Additionally, they are often carriers of some pretty unpleasant diseases. So, if you or a pet do get a nasty bite or scratch from a cute raccoon, make sure you get the wound checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
If it is difficult to believe that raccoons can be dangerous, then it is downright impossible to imagine humans being threatened by the beautiful and intelligent dolphin. Actually, this mammal is known for its sexual aggression, and there have been a number of cases where frisky dolphins have become enamoured with human swimmers and divers. This may seem funny at first, but when you become the unwilling victim of a dolphin’s misguided affections, you will find it very difficult to fight off a 400 pound creature in its natural environment, and you could end up in serious trouble if you happen to be in open water.
13. Leopard Seal
Another aquatic mammal which may look charmingly cute, but has hidden depths that we should all beware of is the leopard seal, which is actually just as much of a killer as the killer whale. While its diet normally consists of fish and penguins, a hungry leopard seal wouldn’t think twice about attacking a human under the right circumstances. In fact, there has been at least one recorded human death attributed to a leopard seal, when a British scientist in Antarctica was dragged to her death in 2003. Reports also suggest that as more humans settle on the continent, seal attacks are also increasing.
If you live in Australia, then you are well aware of the dangers posed to humans, and especially children, by dingoes, a breed of wild dog that is indigenous to the country. At first glance, however, they look like just the kind of cute pup that you would want to take home from the pet store! Don’t let those cute faces fool you, though. There have been numerous reports from Australia of dingo attacks on kids and babies, and there was, of course, the famous case of two-month-old Azaria Chamberlain, who was taken by a dingo from her tent while the family were on a camping trip in 1980, never to be seen again.
11. Blue-Ringed Octopus
Back to the sea for our next beautiful but deadly creature, the blue-ringed octopus, a particularly striking cephalopod. In case you notice these beautiful blue rings that give this octopus its name, then start swimming in the opposite direction, as these only appear when the blue-ringed octopus is about to attack. Usually, the blue-ringed octopus uses two types of poison, which it secretes from glands on its body. One is actually harmless to humans and is used to kill the creature’s food and prey, but the other, a stronger poison, can kill a human in just a few minutes.
10. Slow Loris
Look at those eyes! How could such an adorable little creature pose any threat to you? Well, the slow loris may look like the very definition of cute, but they are the only poisonous mammal anywhere in the world. Scarier is the fact that this poison is so nasty, that it stops a wound from the initial bite from healing, so that the creature which has been bitten rots away from the outside – an unpleasant and pretty disgusting way to die. Although the poison itself won’t kill most humans, there have been recorded incidents of allergic reactions to slow loris bites, which can lead to anaphylactic shock and death.
The cassowary is an intriguing bird because it looks like a colorful, prehistoric ostrich. Don’t be fooled though, its bright and vibrant appearance hides a rather cantankerous personality. The bird, which is native to Australia, has had several recorded attacks on humans, usually when the creature is trying to protect its territory or its young. They have especially powerful legs, each with three clawed toes, and can jump clear off the ground to attack humans or other threats with both feet at the same time! So, the next time you are out in the wild, be wary, lest you cross her path.
Another avian contender for the most beautiful but deadly creature is the pitohui, which is found in New Guinea. While these pretty little birds may look harmless, they are actually the only poisonous birds in the whole world. The hooded pitohui is the most dangerous of the birds in the family, with its skin and feathers secreting a toxin that is believed to come from beetles, which are part of the birds’ diet. The toxin is not deadly to humans, unless you happen to have an allergic reaction. As a matter of fact, local tribes eat the hooded pitohui, although they have to be careful enough while skinning their meaty treat completely.
7. Blue Dragon
The blue dragon may sound like something out of Game of Thrones, but in reality, it is a colorful and unusual sea slug which is found in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. The danger that the blue dragon poses to humans, as well as other sea creatures, is a result of its unusual diet. It is essentially one of the only sea creatures that prey on poisonous jellyfish. They then store the poison that they get from their remarkable food source, and use it to kill their own prey. Should you be unfortunate enough to come across a blue dragon that has been beached onshore, get ready to get stung by the animal, which stores more than enough jellyfish poison in its system.
It may not come as a huge surprise that hedgehogs pose a minor threat to humans after all. While they have adorable little faces, we should never forget that these cute critters are still covered in sharp and potentially painful spines. There has been a huge increase in recent years in the number of people keeping hedgehogs as pets, but what many people don’t take into account is that their prickly pal is actually riddled with a disease called salmonella, which can be deadly to humans. In 2013, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 20 cases of salmonella, and one death that had been directly linked to keeping hedgehogs as pets. Clearly, it isn’t just their spines you have to be wary of!
Given their rarity, it’s unlikely that many of us will encounter a panda in the wild. It is however, a very fortunate opportunity to encounter these cuddly creatures in the wild. Even then, don’t be fooled by all those cute YouTube videos of clumsy baby pandas, and get tempted to carry them. The truth is that these bears can cause some serious damage, especially when they are defending their territory, or their cubs. Pandas naturally have powerful claws and very big teeth with which they drive off anyone who they think is posing a threat. Of course, that includes humans.
4. Pfeffer’s Flamboyant Cuttlefish
As the name suggests, pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish is a spectacular looking creature, a part of the octopus family, which can also change the color of its skin to merge with its surroundings in just seconds. Pfeffer’s is an especially bright-colored cuttlefish, and is also the only poisonous cuttlefish. Unknown to tourists, these bright colors are not meant to attract you, but are instead designed to act as a warning to predators to prevent them from attacking the creature. Unsuspecting humans sadly find themselves attacked, as they try to get closer to the animal. When threatened the cephalopod produces a toxin that is strong enough to kill a human in seconds.
You probably might have heard the famous cautionary tale about swans being able to break your arm. While that might not be 100% accurate, these beautiful birds do pose a danger to humans, especially during the breeding season. They might appear serene and calm on the surface of the water, but when they are defending their nest and their young, swans behave very differently. One Chicago man even drowned in 2012 when he fell out of his kayak, and a male swan, thought to be defending his cygnets, prevented him from getting safely to shore.
2. Poison Dart Frog
As the name suggests, these colorful and vibrant amphibians, which are found in the South American rainforest, are one of the most poisonous creatures on the planet. In fact, they are so poisonous that ancient tribes in this part of the world have been using the poison dart frog’s venom to make deadly weapons for centuries. At a maximum length of just 6cm, these cute critters nevertheless contain enough poison to kill up to ten people, causing paralysis and death within seconds of exposure – either from the frog directly, or via one of your enemy’s weapons.
1. Box Jellyfish
Most types of jellyfish can deliver painful stings, and some of them can even sting you long after they have died and washed up on the shore. Clearly, it is not safe to assume that jellyfish on the beach are safe to touch! While most jellyfish are dangerous, the box jellyfish in particular is the most poisonous jellyfish on earth, and is found in the waters of Australia. Each box jellyfish contains enough venom to kill 60 people, and these deadly creatures have been responsible for over 5,600 deaths since records began in 1954. So, no matter how strong the allure is, avoid this seemingly harmless creature at all costs, lest you become part of the statistics.
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