Dangerous Australian Animals

For many visitors Australia is considered a place where the people probably won’t hurt you but the animals and bugs definitely might.

If you were searching for an article aimed at scaring you about the things that bite then you probably need to look elsewhere. Statistically you are more likely to die in the taxi taking you to Heathrow or Frankfurt Airports than to die from an Australian snakebite or a good tail whipping by an outraged kangaroo.

In fact, if you are a menstruating female, you do have a very slight chance of being attacked by a mature male kangaroo but again there is more chance of choking to death on a hotdog in the airport lounge.

If you are going to meet your end while holidaying in Australia then the things that live in the sea are much more likely to hurt you than the insects and snakes on terra firma and even then, according to the Bureau of Statistics, you are more likely to die by drowning or ‘self-harm.’


Yep crocodiles kill people – now and again.

On average saltwater crocodiles kill one person a year. This happens in the warm tropical waters above the Tropic of Capricorn but it does happen occasionally. There are freshwater croc’s as well and while they can give you a bite if provoked they are generally considered pretty safe.

In most places up North you will be well and truly informed if you are in an area that has a danger of crocodile attack.


More people die from eating shark (choking /food poisoning etc) than die from being eaten by one.

The Great White is the obvious culprit and is normally the ‘fish’ that gets the blame for any fatality. With about one death a year from a population of 22,000,000 and nearly 6,000,000 visitors - ‘death by shark’ can hardly compare to tackling the highways in a rental car.


Box Jelly Fish or “sea wasps” and perhaps the miniscule Irukandji Jellyfish are responsible for around 70 deaths in Australia in the past hundred years.

Largely confined to the warmer, northern, tropical waters – the risk of jellyfish stings is widely advertised in susceptible regions and seasons.

Much like crocodile attacks, jellyfish fatalities usually occur because of the ignorance of local warnings rather than a predation by the attacker.


Ugly, insidious, touted as the most venomous fish in the world, and sometimes eaten as sushi, stonefish have no real record of multiple fatalities in Australia.

Treatment is reported to consist of the application of plus 45 degree water to the affected area and anti-venom in extreme reactions.

Poisoning usually occurs after stepping upon the venomous spines of this fish which looks like a rock or piece of coral.

People can live their whole lives in Australia and never even see one.

Blue Ringed Octopus
Blue Ringed Octopus

One of the worlds most venomous and beautiful creatures the tiny Blue Ringed Octopus lives in tide pools, holes, nooks, crannies, corners, coke tins and anywhere there is a place to hide until a tiny crab or shrimp walks by.

There have been only two known Australian deaths from Blue Ringed Octopus bites. Don’t poke it and it won’t poke you.


Australian snakes have a habit of producing scary statistics. Numbers like 6 out of the 10 deadliest snakes in the world or 15 of the 23 most venomous known snakes etc.

The world’s deadliest snake the Oxyuranus microlepidotus does reside in Australia but it lives in the deserts of central Australia and there are no recorded deaths from its bite.

Growing up in Australia ingrains a natural respect for snakes and a simple understanding of live and let live. You learn to be careful when moving things snakes may be laying under and watching where you walk in the bush.

Snakes have killed 41 people since 1980 the most dangerous being, overwhelmingly, the Brown Snake then the Tiger Snake, Taipan, Adders and various Sea Snakes.

Red Back

The most common, dangerous, spider encounter anyone is likely to have would be with the Red Back.

Immortalized by Slim Dusty’s song and the line -

   " - There was a redback on the toilet seat

    - when I was there last night,

    - I didn't see him in the dark,

    - but boy, I felt his bite."

Redbacks are found lurking in dark corners and holes. Other more dangerous spiders include the Sydney Funnel Web but like most creatures, it is again mostly a case of common sense.

Cover your boots at night and look before you poke inside things.


Most Australian’s manage to get through their whole lives apparently surrounded by the world’s deadliest creatures. Yet ask any one of them and the chances are most people won’t know anyone who has had a life threatening encounter with a shark, crocodile, sea snake or stonefish. Many learned to swim in the ocean and the worst they ever got was a mild scrape from a passing ‘stinger’. Farm kids dodged snakes and spiders by the thousands and the people that chose not to swim in or camp beside crocodile infested waters did not get eaten by crocodiles. - Remarkable.

One now famous Australian, Steve Irwin, spent his entire life provoking, tormenting and taunting every deadly animal on the Australian continent and finally died in the most unlikely manner. He was killed by an animal considered potentially dangerous but unlikely to harm. By reputation, a dozen other animals that he annoyed should have caused him more damage.

So if you are considering an Australian holiday don’t be put off by the wild life. Avoid the mosquito’s in areas known to have Ross River Virus, look out for pick pockets and 'drink spikers' in major cities and avoid koala urine if you feel the need to cuddle one.

These are the real dangers.

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