Most people say, with a bit of a jocular attitude, that if you see them running, something is chasing them. And we tell you what, after learning about these animals, you’d be sprinting if they ever gave chase. From an aggressive fish that will make you stay out of the water for good to a deadly octopus that means business, here are 15 dangerous animals you should run away from.
15. Venomous Puss Caterpillars
Why does everything cute, cuddly, and fluffy, want to see you in extreme pain? All you want to do is cuddle and pat this little critter, but doing so can cause severe pain.
If you feel like grabbing a venomous puss caterpillar from its resting place on a branch, repeat after me: foe, not friend; foe, not friend; foe, not friend.
The puss caterpillar, which goes by the name of Asp or southern flannel moth caterpillar, is quite a large insect that’s covered in a furry coat. But rather than feature soft, fine hairs that cause no harm, these furs are spines that break off in your skin, cause hematoma bruising, and enough pain that even morphine can’t get rid of it.
They are endemic to the southern US, but they have also now been found in South Carolina, Texas, and Florida.
The worst part about being in contact with a venomous puss caterpillar is that it doesn’t feel like it’s hurting you straight away. Instead, the pain builds up as the tiny spines dig their way into your skin.
If you ever find yourself in contact with one, don’t be in a hurry to brush it off you frantically. Carefully lift it with tweezers or a branch, then carefully remove your clothing and shower. This is one creature you don’t want to have any evidence of left on you.
First of all, the name of this creature needs more vowels, for it’s hard enough to say, let alone find yourself face to face with. The… amblypygi, which roughly translates to rump blunt due to the lack of a tail, is not a spider, nor is it a scorpion. It’s a bit of both, and we don’t know if that makes it more or less terrifying.
If the amblypygi looks familiar, then you’d be right. Any Harry Potter fans in the house will remember it from the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Professor Moody used the Imperio curse on it and made it dance.
Fortunately, this critter, which can be classed as a whip spider, doesn’t have any venom, nor do they build any webs. They do have a pretty scary pair of claws though, and they know how to use them.
The amblypygi has a flat body, eight legs, and giant pincers they use to catch prey. They also have eight eyes, but their vision isn’t all that great.
If you’re going to go out looking for one, and we suggest you don’t because they look terrifying, then you’ll find them in subtropical and tropical regions. Just don’t get too close, for their bite really does pack a punch.
13. Goliath Birdeater
First of all, we’re going to clear something up. The goliath birdeater is indeed a giant spider. But it’s not a bird eater. It might eat birds if nothing else is available, and can devour them without any problems at all, but it wouldn’t be its first choice. Got it? Good, now here’s why you’ll be likely to run away from this creepy crawly.
The goliath birdeater is not your average spider that you’d welcome into your home to take care of the insects. Not only does it weigh up to six ounces, but it has a leg span of nearly one foot. Imagine that taking up residence in a web in the corner of your bedroom?
The female tarantula can also live up to 20 years, while the male’s lifespan is a little less optimistic at just six years.
They dine on frogs and rodents and have harpoon-shaped hairs with stinging barbs. These hairs are rubbed together and fired towards the skin and eyes of anyone and anything that tries to do it harm. But its defense response is not the most terrifying thing of all.
The goliath birdeater has inch-long fangs that pump neurotoxins into its prey. It then follows up this process by liquefying its dinner’s insides before beginning the digestion process. Good luck trying to sleep tonight.
12. Giant African Land Snail
A snail, dangerous? We know, it sounds ridiculous. We wouldn’t say this gastropod is dangerous to humans, but it’s dangerous to our crops and agriculture industry, which makes it not very welcome at all here in the US.
The giant African land snail is one of the largest of its kind, growing up to almost eight inches long and four inches tall. It lives in many different countries around the world, but it tends to thrive in hot and humid conditions.
While it’s not going to pin you down and devour you whole, it is going to cause chaos wherever it slithers to. It loves plants and will decimate crops and greenery of around 500 different types. It’s highly invasive and also breeds quite rapidly. They can hatch about 1,200 eggs per year with a survival rate of 90 percent.
They are also quite terrifying to look at, especially if you’re a little bit squirmy with insects. They have a brown, red, and yellow-ish shell and a slug-like body beneath it. They even have tiny teeth so that they can scrape their food before they tuck in.
So, while not dangerous in the traditional sense, this insect is still not for the weak-stomached.
11. Goliath Tigerfish
If you enjoy sleeping and having sweet dreams, then skip this part – or maybe watch a video on unicorns or something. The goliath tigerfish is an aggressive, terrifying, and huge fish that’s not afraid to show you who’s boss.
It’s an African fish that can weigh over 110 pounds and can even grow up to around five feet tall. Basically, it’s the size of a child. But unlike children, this fish is vicious. It exhibits exceptionally violent predatory behavior and is not afraid to fight back if it feels under threat.
It has a mouth full of dagger-like teeth, a muscular body, and a taste for crocs. That’s right; if it finds a crocodile that’s small enough, it will have it for dinner. And it doesn’t just eat it daintily, either. It will literally tear it apart with its razor-sharp teeth. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?
They hunt in packs, are excellent swimmers, and will decimate a fishing rod should you happen to catch one. Fortunately, they spend more time hunting than breeding, which means they are not a population of fish that are about to overrun rivers and lakes. Still, they are a fish that will send you running for dry land, that’s for sure.
A tiger is a dangerous animal that you’ll definitely want to run away from, but will running do you any good? This big cat will win against you in the water – for it’s a good swimmer – and it will undoubtedly win against you on the land. After all, its hind legs are longer than its front ones, which means it can leap 20-30 feet in just one jump.
If you still think you can get away, then know that they can also sneak up on you out of nowhere, thanks to their giant padded feet. They hunt at night – so there’s no thinking that you can slink away in the darkness, and they are fiercely protective of their cubs.
What might swing in your favor, though, is that they are only successful in capturing prey once in every 10 to 20 attempts. Those odds are pretty good for the average human. In saying that, they will eat around 88 pounds of meat in one sitting and will stay with anything they kill until they’ve picked it clean.
There’s also no chance you can overpower them, either, for they are the third-largest land carnivore and weigh up to 660 pounds. If you find yourself in tiger territory, we’ve got our fingers crossed for you, because it’s not looking good.
9. Cone Snail
Gary, the snail from Spongebob Squarepants, may look harmless, but if he’s a cone snail, then he’s a cold-blooded murderer. The cone snail is a six-inch sea critter that lives in reefs in the Indo-Pacific. They have brown and white shells and, believe it or not, feed on fish.
So, how on earth does a small snail manage to bring down a fish? Well, the answer will see your water exploits limited to the bathtub from here on in. They are venomous. And not just a little bit, but a whole lot. They are the most toxic of over 500 cone snail species and have several human deaths to answer for.
They use an awful harpoon-like tooth to deliver the venom, which causes paralysis. There is also no way to cure it, other than try to keep the sufferer alive until the toxin wears off.
But it’s not all bad news. There is potential in the research world for the venom of a cone snail to form part of pain-killing drugs. So far, it has been proven to be ten times more powerful than morphine. Researchers just have to figure out how to make sure it doesn’t kill anyone in the process.
8. Japanese Giant Hornet
If you went around biting people until their organs failed, ripping the heads off people, and dismembering their bodies, then you’d probably end up in jail or death row. But the Japanese giant hornet gets away with it, and they are definitely a dangerous animal that you’re not going to want to get close to.
They are twice the size of a normal hornet, and probably twice as grumpy, too. Their venom can be fatal, and they have a long stinger and mandibles that allow them to tear their prey apart – literally. Sounds like a delightful insect, right?
What they do have going for them is that they are quite pretty. They have black, yellow, orange, and brown coloring, yellow bands, and dramatic, broad wings. But their looks won’t win them any kudos with those they are trying to hunt down.
They can fly at speeds of 25 miles per hour, and they are incredibly aggressive. If you happen to stumble across a Japanese giant hornet nest, then all we can say is BE CALM! Running will only cause them to take up chase and attack.
Up to 40 people lose their life to giant hornets every year, with most deaths caused by anaphylactic shock. However, their venom can also cause death as it can chew through tissue and decimate red blood cells. Want to avoid being stung? Stay inside.
7. Polar Bears
Polar bears look cute and cuddly. They may even offer a false sense of security with the way they plod daintily around on the ice. But they are still a dangerous animal that you should run away from. They are not the most vicious or confrontational bear, so that’s nice to know, but they have a particular set of attributes that would see them win out in a battle of human vs. polar bear.
Firstly, they’re great swimmers. They aren’t called marine mammals for no reason at all. They spend much of their life in the sea ice, which means they’ll beat you in a freestyle race with no problems.
Even if you consider yourself a decent swimmer, their heft will likely see you lose in a fight, anyway. They can weigh as much as ten men, or around 1,700 pounds, and up to nearly ten feet tall.
Fortunately for us, but not for them, they don’t have much luck with food. Fewer than two percent of their hunting expeditions result in food, and they often settle for small mammals, vegetation, birds, and eggs.
Still, would you really want to try your luck in a fight against a polar bear? Probably not.
6. Assassin Caterpillar
The everyday caterpillar is dangerous enough, but usually only from an agricultural perspective. Sure, their fur can be quite irritating, but that’s typically as far as it goes. The assassin caterpillar, however, is a dangerous animal you should run away from. You’re not going to like what this creepy critter has in store for you.
The assassin caterpillar is responsible for many deaths every year. As they blend into the rainforests of southern Brazil, they can be hard to spot until it’s too late.
Their bristles, which look like tiny spears, have an anti-coagulant venom, which can cause bleeding, red blood cell rupture, and vomiting with just the slightest brush against them. The worst part is, if you touch one by accident, you usually end up feeling more than one. And, if that’s the case, renal failure, internal hemorrhaging, and death are common.
If you find yourself adventuring through southern Brazil, then be on the lookout. Don’t touch the bark on any trees, and consider visiting in a colder month of the year. Otherwise, this dangerous critter could wind up ending your life.
5. Amazonian Giant Centipede?
Why is it that everything in the shape of a snake wants us dead? If it’s not snakes themselves, it’s caterpillars and centipedes. Can’t we all just get along? The Amazonian giant centipede is an aggressive, grumpy, and unfriendly insect that’s both giant and venomous. It grows up to 12 inches long and has a pair of legs on each of the 21-23 sections of its body. That’s a lot of legs.
But don’t get too caught up in counting legs, for you’ll need to use your own to run away from them! The Amazonian giant centipede may not have the best eyesight, but they sure know how to eat. They devour birds, snakes, bats, tarantulas, frogs, and lizards, and they will slice and dice their victims until they’re in bite-sized pieces.
If that’s not bad enough, then the venom they release is. It’s that toxic that it can kill small animals and can affect humans too. Anyone who has been bitten by an Amazonian giant centipede can find themselves with fatigue, a chill, fever, pain, and swelling. While death is unlikely, it’s still not a comfortable experience. If you see an Amazonian giant centipede on your travels through South America, then run.
Scorpions are pretty interesting animals, but they are also ones that won’t make you want to get up close and personal with them. Firstly, let’s touch on what makes them interesting, and then we’ll move on to why you should stay as far away from them as possible.
They’re pretty damn resilient. They have been around for at least 400 million years, and each scorpion’s lifespan is around a quarter of a century. They can live for about one year without food and will even survive underwater for up to two days. That’s pretty impressive.
They also glow in the dark, which can be really helpful in trying to locate them. All you need is a UV light and you can work out if you’ve got an infestation around your property or not.
But here’s where they turn from impressive to downright terrifying. They are venomous. They have a needle-like point on their tail that delivers venom. How much venom it produces depends on how badly it wants to kill.
Fortunately, being stung by a scorpion doesn’t mean you’re planning your funeral. It’s not comfortable, but there is an antivenom available. There are also only a few scorpion species, like the Arizona bark scorpion, that can produce a fatal sting.
3. Portuguese Man O’ War
The Portuguese Man O’ War will blow your mind, but even though it’s intriguing, that doesn’t mean you should get up close and personal with them. They look like jellyfish, but they are anything but. Instead, they are a siphonophore, which is not so much one critter but several in one.
The siphonophore starts life as an egg, then creates several organisms that group together into a mass. They can’t survive on their own, so one Portuguese Man O’ War can consist of dozens – all the way up to thousands of organisms.
They live in the warmer oceans around the world, like the Pacific, and their favorite pastimes include stinging humans. Yep, that’s right; they’re pretty awful.
Thousands of people are stung by the Portuguese Man O’ War every year, which causes elevated heart rates, red welts, vomiting, and muscle cramps. In some cases, it can even cause death. If you’re heading to the beach any time soon, don’t be in too much of a hurry to approach anything that slightly resembles a jellyfish. You may not like what you find.
2. Komodo Dragon
Komodo dragons are the biggest living lizards on earth, and they have some pretty interesting skillsets and features that may make you want to learn more about them. But for the sake of your safety, it’s best to learn about them in books, not by seeing them in person.
For many years, Komodo dragons were thought to have deadly bacteria in their spit that could bring down a water buffalo, and that was a terrifying thought. However, upon closer inspection, scientists found that instead of deadly bacteria, they had venom glands. Probably not any better, if we’re being honest.
A bite from the Komodo dragon could cause blood loss, paralysis, tissue damage, pain, and an inability to clot. Water buffalo – and other animals – don’t stand a chance when a Komodo dragon is around.
Humans are not exempt from unfortunate encounters, either. Aside from the fact they can consume around 80 percent of their body weight in one sitting, they can also take care of humans – and not in the caring, kind way.
At least four people have lost their lives in the last 50 years to a Komodo dragon attack. Fortunately, they prefer to raid graves than eat live humans, which is why Indonesians often cover their loved ones’ graves with rocks.
They look harmless, but the Komodo dragon has a few cards up its sleeve that you don’t want to see them play.
1. Blue-Ringed Octopus
Awwww. Look at it. It’s so cute. It’s tiny, beautiful, vibrant, and flits around the ocean so daintily that you would never expect it to be dangerous. But newsflash, the blue-ringed octopus is one of the deadliest octopus (octopi?) in the world.
They carry enough poison to kill 26 people, but you may not even know you’ve been bitten. Their painless bite causes two small puncture wounds, and it’s a race against time to get rid of the tetrodotoxin from your body while fighting paralysis, heart failure, nausea, respiratory distress, and blindness. Sounds like a good time all-around.
Fortunately, attacks are rare. Most occur when humans accidentally stand on them in the ocean, and when the octopus feels threatened. If death does occur, it’s due to a lack of oxygen. CPR can often bring that victim back to life who can then make a full recovery. Still, is it not a better option just to stay away from the water?
The worst part is, they don’t just use one type of venom, but two. The first one is from the saliva, which incapacitates its prey, but doesn’t kill them. They then go back and kill the victim with the second dose. One is a defense venom, while one is a murderous one. We’re pretty sure they won’t be making too many friends in the ocean.
So, that’s a wrap, folks. Now you know what to avoid on your travels into the great outdoors! Have you seen any of these animals in person? We’d like to hear about your experience.