30 Most Dangerous Animals in Australia
Australia is a land of amazing natural beauty. Places such as Mackenzie Falls, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are a few awe-inspiring natural wonders and stunning landscapes. However, Australia is also home to an array of predators, venomous animals and more deadly snakes than any other country in the world.
While 20 of the 25 most venomous snakes live in Australia, snakes aren’t the only things you should watch out for if you want to be safe when visiting this island nation. Some animals may not present as especially dangerous, but they’re often the ones that turn out to be the deadliest.
Here are 30 dangerous animals you don’t want to meet when traveling to Australia.
Australian Paralysis Tick
Location: Eastern Australia
Symptom speed: 2-5 days
Bottom Line: Australian Paralysis Tick
Most of the time, the venom of the Australian paralysis tick isn’t deadly to humans. A bite may cause skin irritation, allergic reactions and tick-transmitted infectious diseases. However, a bite from the Australian paralysis tick can cause death for livestock, dogs and other animals if not treated quickly.
Tick-poisoning symptoms include troubled or labored breathing, coughing, excessive saliva production, vomiting, unsteady legs, collapse and paralysis. Within hours, the paralysis will move up the body ending in respiratory failure and possible death.
Blue-Bellied Black Snake
Length: 3.5-8 feet
Location: Southeastern Queensland and Northeastern New South Wales
Bottom Line: Blue-Bellied Black Snake
Blue-bellied black snakes can be found in grassland, shrubland and savanna habitats. They feed on frogs, lizards and other small animals. These snakes aren’t aggressive unless they feel threatened, but then watch out, as they’ll go after an enemy with everything they’ve got.
They don’t just bite and let go. Instead, they hang on and continue to chew, making sure a good amount of their deadly venom is released directly into their victim. Anyone on the receiving end of a blue-bellied black snake’s bite should seek medical attention immediately.
Length: 8 inches
Special features: These octopi hold two types of venom in their saliva. One is used to kill, and the other, to defend themselves.
Bottom Line: Blue-Ringed Octopus
Blue-ringed octopuses are the only ones poisonous to humans. They carry enough poison that they could wipe out a group of 26 humans in one shot. The blue-ringed octopus’ bite is small and may initially go unnoticed. However, five to 10 minutes after being bitten, the victim will feel the effects.
Symptoms include nausea, numbness, vomiting, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, speaking, breathing, visual disturbances and unconsciousness. If you survive the first 24-hours, you should recover since most people don’t die from a blue-ringed octopus bite.
Size: They’re not a single animal but a colony of organisms. The sac that supports the colony can grow up to over 5 inches.
Location: Large colonies or armadas of themcan be found floating in the water of Queensland.
Alternative name: Pacific man O’ war
Bottom Line: Bluebottle
While the name bluebottle sounds innocent, stay clear of these sea creatures; their sting hurts from the start with an intense jolt of pain. When the tentacle touches the skin, it leaves a red line behind it, causing swelling and becoming itchy or blistering.
How much contact you have with the tentacle determines the severity of the symptoms. It’s also important to get out of the water quickly after being stung and remove the tentacles as soon as possible.
Size: 10-by-10 feet
Weight: Up to 4.4 pounds
Lifespan: 1 year
Bottom Line: Box Jellyfish
Having tentacles is one thing, but having tiny poisonous darts inside those tentacles takes the danger up a notch. These spiked darts or venomous coiled threads are projected when the box jellyfish feels threatened or is hungry.
Their venom is considered one of the deadliest in the world. Once their venom enters the victim’s system, it begins to attack the heart, nervous system and skin. It’s incredibly painful, and once bitten, humans will go into shock or heart failure before they reach the shore.
Size: 1.5 inches
Habitat: Urban areas, grassland, forests
Bottom Line: Bull Ant
Bull ants have a well-deserved reputation for aggressively jumping at intruders and biting them. They’ll attack, follow and chase intruders of any size who dare to come too close to their nest. They make their nests several feet underground and are careful to make sure that the entrances are hidden from sight.
When a bull ant catches an interloper, they’ll sting them by clamping their jaw down, curling their abdomen around and injecting them with their venom. Once done, they repeat the process multiple times.
Length: 7 feet (males), 11 feet (females)
Weight: 200-500 pounds
Longevity: 12-16 years
Bottom Line: Bull Shark
Bull sharks are the strongest, most dangerous and most aggressive sharks around. They move easily between freshwater and saltwater. Their adaptability makes them a greater threat to humans because they’re often the same rivers and lakes that humans enjoy spending time in.
Bull sharks are less tolerant than other sharks and react more often with an investigatory bite. Using their bite to figure out what they’re dealing with doesn’t sound frightening until you remember that their teeth are incredibly sharp and their jaw strength is bone-crushing.
Length: 8.1 feet
Weight: 6.6 pounds
Longevity: 10-15 years
Bottom Line: Coastal Taipan
Coastal taipans are nervous, always on guard, but they still won’t back away from a close encounter. This snake is stealthy and will strike without warning. Their bodies allow them to hurl themselves forward, sideways or off the ground.
They cause continuous damage with multiple bites and large doses of venom. Victims may experience headaches, vomiting, collapse, paralysis, muscle tissue destruction and kidney damage. Coastal taipans can kill a person within 45 minutes.
Length: 5.9-7.2 feet
Location: Central and Western Queensland
Bottom Line: Collett’s Snake
Although the Collett’s snake is extremely dangerous, they’re often found in zoos and collections because of how pretty they are with their dark brown or black upperparts, a pink or cream banding, and a pale yellow to orange underside.
Their venom is both myotoxic (skeletal muscle-damaging) and cardiotoxic (heart muscle-damaging)and will kill if the victim isn’t treated within 24 hours. When bitten by a Collett’s snake, victims experience a mix of nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, muscle breakdown and renal failure.
Common Death Adder
Length: 2.3-3.3 feet
Longevity: 9 years
Bottom Line: Common Death Adder
Common death adders are masters of camouflage and will even cover themselves with leaves or burrow into the soil so that they’re hidden. They’ll patiently lay in wait to ambush their prey, even if it takes days. Common death adders have extra-long fangs, and they’re a high venom yielder.
Before the invention of antivenom, 60 percent of the common death adder’s bites to humans were fatal. If bitten, a victim may experience suffocation, paralysis of the eye muscle, abdominal pain and enlargement of the lymph nodes.
Length: 13-16 inches
Longevity: 10-18 years
Bottom Line: Common Lionfish
The common lionfish has 18 venomous spines capable of piercing human skin and delivering an extremely painful sting. The lionfish doesn’t use its spines for hunting prey; instead, they use their pectoral fins to trap them.
Their stings aren’t usually fatal for humans, but their venom may cause respiratory distress and paralysis in extreme cases. The intensity and length of the effects of a lionfish’s sting are dependent on the individual’s sensitivity to the toxin and how many spines pierced the skin.
Length: 4-6 inches
Longevity: 10-20 years
Bottom Line: Cone Shells
The cone shell is the deadliest of all sea snails, with over 100 toxins in its body. This tiny creature has caused 27 confirmed human deaths but most likely many more than that.
These sea snails have 20 harpoons in various stages of growth and development. When struck with a cone shell harpoon, the victim is injected with a fast-acting venom and will experience pain and swelling at the sting site, numbness, tingling, nausea and vomiting. There’s no antivenom for cone shell stings.
Dugite (or Spotted Brown Snake)
Length: 4.5-6 feet
Weight: Up to 3.3 pounds
Longevity: 20-30 years
Bottom Line: Dugite
Dugites try to avoid biting humans, but they’ll get aggressive if cornered. During their mating season is when they’re at their most threatening. They have small fangs, but the dugite’s bite is considered one of the most toxic and lethal.
A single bite may hold a large amount of venom and cause clotting or stunted coagulation leading to excessive blood loss. If a dugite bites you, you must get medical attention as quickly as possible.
Eastern Brown Snake
Length: Up to 7 feet
Longevity: 15 years
Bottom Line: Eastern Brown Snake
The eastern brown snake is responsible for 60 percent of snake deaths — mostly people trying to kill the snake. These snakes are aggressive, fast and react with two neck displays.
The first or partial is when the snake raises the front part of its body horizontally, flattens its neck and partially opens its mouth. The second and more effective kill-stance is the full display in which the snake rises high off the ground, coils its neck into an S shape and opens its jaw wide.
Length: 7.5+ inches
Longevity: 10 years
Bottom Line: Giant Centipede
Giant centipedes don’t have as high a human body count as some of the other dangerous Australian animals on this list, but their bite can cause a significant amount of pain. One of the toxins in the centipede’s venom has been identified and named Ssm Spooky Toxin.
This toxin is highly dangerous to all animals and humans because it will shut off the channels that pump potassium in and out of cells. This toxin stops blood flow to the heart, leading to heart failure and eventually death.
Great White Shark
Length: 11-13 feet (males), 15-16 feet (females)
Weight: 1,200-2,400 pounds
Longevity: 70+ years
Bottom Line: Great White Shark
Thanks to the movie “Jaws,” everybody knows that the world’s largest and most predatory fish is the great white shark. These sharks are on record for being behind the largest number of recorded shark attacks worldwide. Their bloodthirsty bites are administered by rows of up to 300 serrated triangular teeth.
There are many myths associated with the great white shark. We can tell you that contrary to popular opinion, sharks don’t have to be on their sides to bite and that they can’t swim backward either.
Length: 2-3 feet
Longevity: 18 years
Bottom Line: Highland Copperhead
Highland copperheads are found in the highlands of New South Wales and Eastern Victoria. Their venom is highly toxic, and children, the elderly and immunocompromised are most at risk.
If the snake feels threatened by a human, it will hiss loudly, flatten its body and whip around, but they don’t usually bite. However, if the threat intensifies, the snake will lash out and bite. Any bite could be fatal if not treated.
Length: Less than an inch
Longevity: 30-60 days
Bottom Line: Honeybee
Honeybees produce venom known as apitoxin in their abdominal glands and store it in special sacs. Although apitoxin is poisonous to humans, each sting contains only a small dose of the toxin. It would take at least 500 jabs from the bees’ stinger to kill the average human.
A large percentage of people who die from bee stings are allergic. The non-allergic reaction to a bee sting is swelling and pain, but allergic people will have additional symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, hives, itching and difficulty breathing.
Length: 6.5-8.8 feet
Longevity: 10-15 years
Bottom Line: Inland Taipan
Inland taipans are the most venomous snake but not the deadliest. This is because they live in the dry open plains of Central and Eastern Australia, areas where there aren’t many people. On average, their bite has enough venom to kill upwards of 25 people.
Luckily, since the antivenom was invented, no human deaths have been attributed to the inland taipan. These snakes aren’t looking for trouble with humans, and if they encounter one, they’ll simply slither away.
Length: About a centimeter
Habitat: The waters of Northern Australia
Bottom Line: Irukandji Jellyfish
These jellyfish are both the smallest and the most venomous in the world. They’re able to fire stingers from the tips of their four long tentacles. When they inject their venom, it causes a condition known as Irukandji Syndrome.
This condition brings about agonizing muscle cramps, severe pain in the back and kidneys, a burning sensation of the skin and face, elevated blood pressure, accelerated heart rate and psychological phenomena described as “the feeling of impending doom.” The symptoms can last anywhere from hours to weeks and usually require hospitalization.
Length: 8.2-9.8 feet
Weight: 6.6-13.2 pounds
Longevity: 20-30 years
Bottom Line: Mulga Snake
Mulgas are so dangerous that other snakes fear them. They’re the only ones that can kill the inland taipans. Their behavior seems to be dependent on where they live. If they live in southern Australia, they tend to be shyer and retiring. If their habitat is in the north, they tend to get extremely agitated when disturbed and will violently move their head from side to side, hissing.
Mulgas don’t just bite; they hang on and chew as they inject massive amounts of venom.
Red-Bellied Black Snake
Length: 4-8 feet
Longevity: 10-15 years
Bottom Line: Red-Bellied Black Snake
These snakes aren’t as aggressive as many, but you’re more likely to encounter one in an urban area like Sydney. A good rule of thumb when encountering a red-bellied black snake is not to get too close to them, and they probably won’t bite you.
Their bites are rarely fatal, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not painful. Their venom is quite toxic, and if you get bitten, you may experience bleeding and swelling at the bite site, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, sweating and severe tissue damage.
Length: Less than an inch
Longevity: 2-3 years (females), 6-7 months (males)
Bottom Line: Redback Spider
Redback spiders live in a wide range of habitats but seem to prefer well-populated areas. There are hundreds of compounds in their venom, but only one, alpha-latrotoxin, is responsible for 2,000 hospitalized bites cases each year.
However, the redback venom hasn’t caused any deaths for the last 50 years since the invention of the redback antivenom. Keep in mind that these spiders can give a warning bite that doesn’t contain any venom.
Length: 12-16 inches
Weight: 5 pounds
Longevity: 5-10 years
Bottom Line: Reef Stonefish
The stonefish are masters of camouflage, which they use to their advantage to ambush their prey. Unfortunately, since they look like rocks, it’s easy to step on them unintentionally. The stonefish has 13 razor-sharp, venom-filled spines lining their back that they release when under pressure.
The more venom you receive, the worse it is, resulting in excruciating pain, swelling, tissue death and even fatality. If you’re stung by a stonefish, seek medical attention immediately because their venom is capable of killing a person in less than an hour.
Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile
Length: 20+ feet
Weight: 2,200-2,900 pounds
Longevity: 70+ years
Bottom Line: Saltwater or Estuarine Crocodile
Saltwater crocodiles, affectionately known as "salties," are among the most dangerous animals globally; even sharks and alligators are afraid of them. Salties can survive without food for months, so it’s shocking how fast they react going after prey.
First, they ambush their victim, get it in a death roll, drown it and then swallow it whole. Tips for surviving a saltie attack include not making any sudden movements, running in a straight line, gouging their eyes and even sacrificing your limb. Still, the most effective method is to avoid them.
Length: 1-6 inches
Weight: Up to 5 pounds
Longevity: 3-24 years
Bottom Line: Smooth Toadfish
Smooth toadfish are in the pufferfish family, and like pufferfish, they’re deadly. They contain tetrodotoxin, and legend has it that this is the kind of poison voodoo priests used to re-animate zombies.
Toadfish venom is considered 100 times more deadly than black widow venom. It’s easy to encounter a smooth toadfish when in the coastal waters of Southeastern Australia, but don’t be tempted to touch or eat it, or you could get seriously ill.
Sydney Funnel-Web Spider
Size: About an inch
Longevity: Up to 20 years
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Bottom Line: Sydney Funnel-Web Spider
Sydney funnel-web spiders are like amped-up black widows. They’re known for being the deadliest spider in Australia and possibly the world. They can be quite aggressive, especially when threatened. Their fangs are larger than brown snakes, can penetrate through fingernails and shoe leather, and contain a dangerous venom.
The male venom is six times more toxic than the female, and one in six bites will cause a severe reaction. Luckily, the antivenom was made available in 1981 and successfully reduced the fatalities caused by this supervillain spider.
Length: Up to 18 feet
Weight: 850-1,700 pounds
Longevity: 12+ years
Bottom Line: Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks live in waters where humans swim. There’s a greater chance of encountering one of them rather than a deep-water shark. Even when not provoked, these sharks are aggressive and can easily overpower humans because of their immense size and strength.
Their teeth are made for breaking down their food, so the damage they make on a human is catastrophic. Tiger sharks have no natural predators, and only killer whales, other tiger sharks and humans can kill them.
Length: 3-5 feet
Weight: 1-3 pounds
Longevity: 10+ years
Bottom Line: Tiger Snake
Tiger snakes are credited for the second-highest number of bites in Australia. They’re not aggressive unless provoked but will bite with great force when agitated.
If you come upon a tiger snark and see them flattening their bodies and raising their heads above the ground in the classic prestrike stance, you know you’re in trouble. A tiger snake bite can be fatal if untreated, and even if treated, it can cause intense pain, breathing difficulties and other distressing symptoms.
Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
Length: About 3 feet
Longevity: 7 years
Bottom Line: Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
Yellow-bellied sea snakes spend their entire life far off the coastline, so the chances you’ll encounter one is slim unless one washes ashore. While they tend to be timid, they won’t hesitate to bite if they feel threatened.
Their fangs are small and don’t deliver a huge amount of venom but enough to cause pain and sickness with the possibility of death. If you find one on the beach, whatever you do, don’t touch it, even if you think it’s dead.