Dangerous animals Australia

One of the most dangerous animals in Australia, an Eastern Brown snake

One of the most dangerous animals in Australia (and the world), an Eastern Brown snake lunching on a Blue Tongue lizard. And it’s not only lizards that should stay clear of this unpleasant animal! Photo by Matt Clancy.

Dangerous animals Australia, really?

Australia’s dangerous animals are not looking for trouble and if you give them a chance they will slither, hop, slide, scuttle or swim the other way. There are no tigers looking for a human snack in the land of Oz, merely a sizeable collection of venemous critters looking to survive the day.
Don’t get paranoid, just keep your eyes open. . . you don’t run across the road without looking do you?


Oz hosts ten of the deadliest ‘Joe Blakes’ in the world, among them the tiger, brown, smooth and death adder. Don’t ever try to catch one and wear boots and long trousers when walking in the wild.

The eastern brown snake or common brown snake is the world’s second most venomous land snake. It is native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia. These snakes come in all shades of brown or occasional grey or yellow, spiced up with patterns and nice accessory bands.

An adult brown snake is about one to two metres long (3–6 ft) and can be found in rural and farming areas along the eastern section of Australia where there are plenty of small rodents and lizards. It hunts by day, which is unusual and unfortunate for humans, and it is notorious for its speed and aggression though they will try to get away from large creatures such as humans but are very dangerous when provoked.


Two highly unpleasant and commonly encountered beasts are the funnel-web and the redback spiders, both enjoying the hospitality of east coast urban areas.

Funnel-Web Spider

Dangerous wildlife: funnel-web spider

A Victorian funnel-web spider.

Happily the macro photo has exaggerated the size of this funnel-web spider. Funnel-webs mostly range from 1 cm to 5 cm, or between a third of an inch up to two inches. They sport dark colours such as black, deep blue, plum and brown, with a glossy, hairless carapace at their front end.
Funnel-webs make nests in moist, cool, places such as under rocks and in/under woodpiles so suburban gardens suit them just fine.
Eyes peeled, even when entering the swimming pool!

Redback Spider

Dangerous wildlife: redback spider, australia

A female redback spider with egg sac and well-wrapped dinner.

Redbacks are indigenous to Australia. They are fairly small but easily recognised due to the red stripe on the upper body and a red hourglass-shape on the underside. Females are about 10 millimetres (0. 4 in) long but males are much smaller, only 3–4 mm (0. 12–0. 16 in) long.
The female redback likes to live in a warm, sheltered location, frequently near or inside human habitation. Garden sheds and outside toilets are popular! Males and babies live near the female web and steal the leftovers – if they survive the cannibal mating procedure.
The redback bite can be very unpleasant to humans, but no one has died from its bite since 1979 when a successful anti-venom was introduced.

Saltwater Crocodiles

Dangerous wildlife: saltwater crocodile, australia

A Saltwater croc, aka Saltie.

Saltwater crocs can live in freshwater as well as salt water estuaries and grow up to an incredible 6m (18ft) long, the world’s largest reptile, they are an Australian speciality and can be extraordinarily aggressive, leaping out of the water to grab a hunk of meat (i. e. you paddling in the shallows) before rolling over a few times to drown the prey followed by a trip to an underwater pantry to stash next week’s dinner under some tree roots.

However hot and dusty you may be, never never swim where there are no locals participating or signs giving the OK. Salties like white meat and don’t mind if you’ve still got your boots on.

Blue-ringed octopus

Dangerous wildlife: blue-ringed octopus, australia

An unusually large blue-ringed octopus photographed in Indonesia by Jens Petersen.

These octopi – frequently small and cute – like to hunt in rocky pools on/near the shore. Generally the size of a hand, they pack a hideously toxic punch. Just ensure that the kids don’t play with any marine life lurking near the beach, even if it seems dead.

This is the only dangerous octopus in the world and it has chosen to cruise the waters of Australia.
Fully grown these marine animals are usually the size of an adult hand, 10-20cm (4-8″) in diameter with tentacles extended and a yellow/brown colour, perhaps with brown bands.
When angry brilliant blue rings appear on its body, though that may be too late to warn you or your children.
It’s often found near the shoreline or in rocky pools, hunting crabs.
If it’s picked up or trodden on it’ll bite with a little beak in the mid-underside of its body.
The bite may not be noticed immediately, but pain followed by severe breathing difficulties, nausea and paralysis will clarify matters soon enough.
Death is rare but not unknown.


A box jellyfish

A box jellyfish.

The box jelly is THE most toxic creature on earth and its little brother, irukandji, is nearly as bad, especially if you have a weak heart. They like warm waters around the Great Barrier Reef and are common November-April. Swimming is usually discouraged on beaches north of Rockhampton (north of Brisbane) in the high season unless stinger nets are in place or you wear a lycra stinger suit.

This marine animal has a boxy bell head the size of a basket ball, 4 parallel brains (one on each corner), 24 eyes and 60 arseholes! Apparently. There are 5, 000 stinging cells on each of its 10- 60, two metre long tentacles.
Some researchers believe that groups of Box Jellies deliberately herd small fish and crustaceans towards the shore in order to trap them, thus bringing them into contact with humans.
New Scientist magazine in 2003 revealed that Box jellies are not ‘dim-witted ocean drifters’ but ‘fast, active predators that hunt and kill with incredible speed and brutality. ‘

Dangerous wildlife: irukandji jellyfish, australia

A fully grown and highly venemous Irukandji jellyfish.

Irukandji are tiny but toxic jellyfish found in the seas around Australia, though not exclusively so as they have been found in lesser numbers elsewhere. They are named after a tribe that used to live in Cairns, Queensland, and which suffered strange sicknesses for many years until a marine scientist discovered the source, a creature the size of the tip of your little finger, one cubic centimetre, causing extremely unpleasant symptoms now known as Irukandji syndrome. Deaths from Irukandji are rare unless a heart attack is triggered by the shock.


Dangerous wildlife: great white shark, australia

A Great White shark. Photo by Fallows, C Gallagher, AJ Hammerschlag.

No worries mate! You have the same chance of being killed by a shark as being killed by a falling coconut. Accidents happen of course, and if a Great White with myopia thinks you are a seal, then goodbye. Stay away from surfing if you’re nervous and/or wear a colourful wetsuit. Why are wetsuits generally black? Do they want you to look like a seal?

So, relax, but not too much. Look out! Just kidding, really, it’s OK, if Australians can flourish with these beasties about, so can you! Check out the following facts from Bob. . .

Killer Creature Facts from BobinOz

• Snakes: With 41 recorded deaths between 1980 and 2009, snake deaths in Australia average out at less than two per year.

• Spiders: Nobody in Australia has died from a spider bite since 1979 after the successful introduction of antivenom for all native species.

• Sharks: Accounted for 25 deaths between 2000 and (March) 2012 in Australia, about 2 a year.

• Crocodiles: Historically, crocodiles account for less than one death per year here in Australia, although that is increasing slightly as the crocodile population rises following the ban on crocodile hunting in 1971.

• Blue Ringed Octopus: Just 3 recorded deaths in the last century.

• Stonefish: One unconfirmed death by stonefish in 1915.

• Cone Snails: I could find no recorded deaths from cone snails in Australia whatsoever.

• Jellyfish: Jellyfish account for (at time of writing) 66 deaths since records began in 1883. The box jellyfish was responsible for 64 deaths, and the Irukandji the other two. It sounds a lot, but still less than one death per year, more like just half a death per year.

There, I think I’ve covered them all. Equalising it out, Australia’s dangerous creatures kill about five people a year. If I’ve missed anything out, got anything wrong, or if anyone has an update on these figures, please do comment below.

Australia’s worst killers!

• Here in Australia, about 20 people a year die from horse riding accidents.

• Around 10 people per year in Australia die from European Honey Bee stings after going into anaphylactic shock.

• And around 300 people a year drown.

So the best advice I would give anyone about staying safe in Australia would be nothing to do with avoiding scary creatures. It would be ‘swim between the flags’ if you are going to take a dip in the sea.