The deadliest animals in the world
Every year hundreds of thousands of people die as a result of an animal attack. Statistically, however, the usual suspects of spiders, great white sharks and lions aren’t to blame. In most cases, the dangerous animals involved aren’t necessarily the most poisonous or physically formidable but the nondescript ones. Underestimate them at your peril, though.
Here’s a rundown of the deadliest creatures on the planet.
These nasty parasites nestle in the digestive tracts of various animals, including humans, and can grow up to nine metres in length. They become particularly dangerous when they eat their way through the intestinal wall and migrate to the liver, lungs or brain and form cysts which can be fatal. Thankfully, deadly tapeworm infections are rare in the UK, but claim the lives of 2,000 people around the world every year.
There are around 1,400 species of these menacing arachnids, with some of them as small as nine millimetres in height and others that are 21 centimetres tall. However, only 25 species have the ability to kill humans, and the Deathstalker scorpion is responsible for over 75% of scorpion-related fatalities each year. 5,000 people die annually from scorpion stings, with the vast majority of them in Mexico, with most victims succumbing to respiratory arrest.
Otherwise known as “kissing bugs”, these bad boys are anything but romantic. They get their name from their habit of biting humans on the face near the lips. Through their bites, they spread the parasite that causes Chagas disease, a disorder that does damage to the body’s vital organs by destroying nerve cells in the digestive tract, and can be fatal, killing around 15,000 people each year.
These large biting flies inhabit much of midcontinental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari Deserts and spread the dreaded “sleeping sickness”. When bitten by an infected fly, victims can experience a whole host of nasty symptoms, including fever, swollen lymph glands, aching muscles and joints, headaches, and irritability. Eventually it causes slurred speech, seizures and can result in death. Approximately 50,000 lives are claimed each year by the tsetse fly.
Even the tiny, innocent-looking freshwater snails that reside in rivers and lakes in the sub-tropics can cause the infection of schistosomiasis. They do this by burrowing into the victim’s skin and laying eggs. According to the World Heath Organisation, freshwater snails kill between 20,000 and 200,000 people per year.
Don’t worry, your four-legged pet pup probably won’t turn into a ravenous killing machine. In fact, only 180 people die each year from the deadly bite of a domestic variety. Nevertheless, man’s best friend is also one of the deadliest animals in the world, and strays are the reason behind some 50,000 deaths per year.
The cause: rabies that is transmitted through bites. So it’s well worth getting immunised against the disease, though it should be noted that in the UK, the only animals capable of transmitting rabies are bats.
Humans are bitten by snakes 1.25 million times annually. Of these, the number of registered deaths turn out to be 50,000 on average, but the actual figure is far higher. The Asian cobra is responsible for the majority of these, but it’s not the most venomous snake. Other species like the King Cobra can shoot their venom up to three metres wide with complete accuracy. Best wear goggles around these types of snake, as they could also blind you.
The most lethal of all the creatures on the planet is also one of the smallest: the humble mosquito. No fewer than one million people die each year from these little pests, or more accurately, their bites and the diseases they carry. Mosquitos spread the tropical disease malaria, which affects over 200 million people each year, most of them in Africa.