This post may include affiliate links, please read our disclaimer.
Dangerous Australian Animals, something Australia is infamous for…
Dangerous Australian Animals? Very few Australians could actually say first hand that they have had an encounter with, or even know someone who might have succumbed to a deadly critter in the land down under.
I personally know of just one person who had a serious run in with a snake and had to be airlifted by helicopter to hospital and was very ill and almost lost the big toe that got bitten – it was my sister-in-law who was about to start a hike in the NEW FOREST area of England!
Most Australians have not even seen a koala in the wild, let alone been attacked by a snake, crocodile, spider or shark!
Nevertheless, we do have some dangerous animals, no arguments there. According to the Australian Museum in Sydney (they created a list of 30 in all), the top 10 dangerous Aussie animals are:
1. Box Jellyfish (Rating 10/10) –
The venom of the Box Jellyfish is among the most deadly in the world, containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. Box jellies, also known as sea wasps or marine stingers, live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific.
They are pale blue and transparent in colour and get their name from the cube-like shape of their bell. Measuring up to 20 cm along each, the Box Jellyfish has as many as 15 tentacles on each corner which can be 3 metres in length with up to 5,000 nematocysts (stinging cells). The box jellyfish move towards the shoreline in calm waters when the tide is coming in and gather near the mouths of rivers, estuaries and creeks following the rain, feeding on small fish and crustaceans.
The Box Jellyfish season starts during the wet season of the summer months in Northern Australia, around October and lasts until April. Further south along the northern Queensland or northern Western Australia coast the season is usually from November to March.
Less than 1 death per year has been recorded from stinger since records began over a century ago, far less than drowning or car accidents.
There is almost no chance of surviving the venomous stings. The pain is so excruciating that anyone being stung will most likely go into shock and drown before reaching safety.
First Aid: Domestic vinegars should be poured liberally over the tentacles to inactivate stinging cells as soon as possible. The tentacles may then be removed and medical help sought.
Safe Swimming: All Queensland beaches north of Town of Seventeen Seventy (near Gladstone) can attract the marine stingers during the summer months of the year. Most of the popular beaches around the northern coastline have stinger-resistant nets so people can swim throughout the year. It is important to swim inside the enclosed areas as they are the only approved safe swimming zone on beaches in the danger areas/times.
The nets are constructed of a floating tube that borders swimming areas. Hanging from the tube is 25mm square mesh that is anchored to the ocean floor and weighed down by chain. The stinger nets are designed to prevent large box jellyfish and large segments of box jellyfish tentacles from entering the enclosure. Beaches in the northern section of Queensland have longer stinger seasons than beaches in the south due to the warmer water and greater prevalence of mangrove swamps.
Honey Bee (Rating 9/10)
Australia’s early European settlers introduced Honey Bees to ensure a good supply of honey. The 1.5cm European honey bee, as unassuming as its seems, is highly dangerous to those who have allergies to their venom.
Unlike wasps, however, bees leave their stinging barb inserted in their victim, along with a sack of venom. This detaches from the bee, killing it. Native Australian bees are much smaller and often don’t sting unlike the introduced species.
Honey Bees live in urban areas, forests, woodlands and heath. Honey bees have successfully established feral hives throughout Australia.
3. Irukandji (Rating (/10)
The Irukandji Jellyfish (Carukia barnesi) inhabits waters of Australia. This is a deadly jellyfish, which is only 2.5 centimeters (with bell and tentacles) in diameter, making it difficult to spot.
The initial sting of the jellyfish is reported as not overly painful. Anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes afterbeing stung, a severe backache or headache and shooting pains in the muscles, chest and abdomen will begin. The victim may feel nauseous, anxious, restless and vomit. In rare cases, the victim may suffer pulmonary oedema (fluid on the lungs) which could be fatal if not treated.
In 1964, a doctor called Jack Barnes spent several hours in a wetsuit lying in the water near Cairns searching for a jellyfish responsible for ‘irukandji syndrome’ – a set of symptoms suffered after a jellyfish sting that could put the victim in hospital. Irukandji is the name of an aboriginal tribe that once lived in the area around Cairns in north Queensland.
To Dr Barnes’ delight, a thumbnail-sized jellyfish swam past his mask. He stung himself, his son and a surf life saver to check that the jellyfish he had caught was responsible for ‘irukandji syndrome’. All three ended up in hospital. For Dr Barnes’ dedication, the tiny jellyfish was later called Carukia barnesi.
4. Bull Shark (Rating 8/10)
The bull shark is classified as number three on the list of
most dangerous sharks in the world when it comes to attacks on humans. They don’t move very fast but they are certainly able to tackle their prey due to their sheer strength. They are unpredictable and that is what makes them so dangerous.They are found swimming in the shallow, warm waters of all the world’s oceans. Fast, lethal predators, they eat almost anything they see, including fish, dolphins, and even other sharks.
5. Eastern Brown Snake (Rating 8/10)
The eastern brown snake is the species responsible for most deaths caused by snakebite in Australia, although, with the advent of efficient first-aid treatment and anti-venom, there are now usually only one or two deaths per year.
The Eastern Brown Snake may be a shade of brown and also grey or black. Some snakes are banded. The belly is typically cream with pink or orange spots.Young Eastern Brown Snakes may be plain or banded.The species grows to 2 metres.
Found over much of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and in southern South Australia, plus isolated populations in the Northern Territory. Not found in the rainforest, the snake is well adapted to farmed, grazed and semi-urban areas.
6. Saltwater Crocodile (Rating 8/10)
With its webbed feet and muscular tail flattened
on both sides, the saltwater crocodile (popularly referred to as the ‘salty’) is able to propel itself through the water at surprising speed. The eyes and nostrils are on top of their head, allowing it to remain mostly hidden beneath the surface of the water, yet still able to see, hear, smell, and of course, breath… making it a formidable predator.
Earth’s largest living crocodilian is the saltwater or estuarine crocodile. The average-sized male reaches 5 metres/17 feet and 450 kilograms/ 1000 pounds, but some have been recorded at 7 metres/23 feet long.
Australian Saltwater crocodiles are possibly the most dangerous animals in Australia.
They are huge, aggressive, territorial, and are found across the northern areas of the Australia.
Crocodiles kill on average one to two people per year – mostly these deaths are through reckless behaviour of the unfortunate victims. Taking precautions, reading signs and heeding all warnings and safety advice will almost certainly keep humans safe from crocodile attacks.
Crocodile Safety Advice – PDF File from the Northern Territory Government
7. Sydney Funnel WebSpider (Rating 8/10)
Not all species are known to be dangerous, but several
are renowned for their highly toxic and fast acting venom. The male of Atrax robustus, the Sydney Funnel-web Spider, is probably responsible for all recorded deaths (13) and many medically serious bites. This remarkable spider has become a part of Sydney’s folklore and, although no deaths have been recorded since the introduction of an antivenom in 1981, it remains an icon of fear and fascination for Sydney siders.
8.Blue-Ringed Octopus (Rating 7/10)
Collectively there are around 10 species known
as ‘blue-ringed octopuses’. Several of these are found in Australian waters, with Hapalochlaena fasciata the most common species found around Sydney. Blue-ringed Octopuses are thought of as one of the most dangerous animals in the sea. Although their powerful venom has caused some human fatalities, they are very shy and non-aggresive creatures that prefer to hide under ledges and in crevices.
9. Coastal Taipan (Rating 7/10)
Australia’s deadliest snake also has huge fangs, which grow up to
12 millimetres long! It uses these to inject a powerful venom into the body. The coastal taipan is commonly about 1.5-2 metres long, but can grow to 3m. Sporting a slender light to dark brown body, and a cream/yellow belly with pink or orange flecks, the snake’s head is often a lighter brown than its body.
Living in grasslands, coastal heaths, grassy sand dunes of some beaches and cultivated areas such as cane fields in northern Australia, the Taipan has also been found in Northern New South Wales.
10. Common Death Adder (Rating 7/10)
Death adders are easily distinguishable from other snakes by the very short, squat bodies, rapidly tapering tail and the
broad triangular head. Colouration varies widely but most species exhibit some form of a banded pattern in shades of brown or grey. The tail tip is usually a different colour to the rest of the body, often brightly coloured and is used as a lure by wriggling it to attract potential prey.
This Dangerous Australian Animals list has been developed by the Australian Museum, Sydney. The animals have been rated out of 10 based on the threat posed, combined with the chances of encountering any of the animals.