Everyone knows that lions and tigers and bears (oh my) are cute but dangerous, but there are a lot of critters out there that seem entirely harmless but are actually every bit as deadly as those previously mentioned beasts.
Squirrels are adorable little fuzzballs that just want to eat nuts and play all day right? Well, for the most part, yes. But there have been stories of rogue squirrels attacking people and pets. In Florida, a three year old boy was attacked by a squirrel and he had to be hospitalized after receiving nine bites. In California, an elderly couple was sent to the hospital after being scratched and bitten by a crazed squirrel that had previously attacked at least six other people. While no humans have been killed by squirrels (that we know of) but in Russia, eight of them worked together to kill a stray dog that was barking at them -according to the newspaper report, "they are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh." If that doesn't leave you with a whole new image of the fluffy-tailed rodents, I don't know what will.
Image Via Nathan Rupert [Fllickr]
2. Giant Anteaters
You probably wouldn't be intimidated just looking at one, but giant anteaters can defend themselves surprisingly well. The large mammals have powerful , sharp claws that they use to dig up termite hills. These claws can kill humans. When they feel threatened, the animals stand on their hind legs and extend their arms in what looks like a hug -but you do not want to take them up on a cuddle.
Source: Live Science
Image Via Allan Hopkins [Flickr]
They're beautiful and elegant, but they can actually be incredibly dangerous -and in rare instances, deadly. Swans are highly territorial and will attack, aggressively flapping their strong, boney wings and snapping their beaks at people. In one unbelievable story, a canoe r was drowned after a swan knocked him from his boat and then stopped him from being able to swim to shore. The man's widow even sued the lake for housing such violent and dangerous birds.
Image Via Staney Zimmy [Flickr]
4. The African Spur-Winged Goose
If you think death-by-swan is scary, then just wait until you learn about the African spur-winged goose, the one of the most dangerous birds in the world. This strong bird has spurs on its wrists that it uses while attacking, which can actually be poisonous. They aren't always poisonous, but those that feed on a specific blister beetle carry the toxin in their spurs. As little as 10 mg is enough of this toxin can kill a human. The bird's flesh is also deadly if they have been eating the beetles.
Source: Science Blogs
Image Via Heather Paul [Flickr]
Widely considered the most dangerous bird in the world, the cassowary is also the third largest bird. There are all sorts of rumors of the birds using their sharp nails to gut a person, but that much isn't true. They still can kill with those talons though and the most recent death occurred in 1926 when a cassowary kicked a 16 year old in the neck, causing him to bleed to death. In the bird's defense, the teen was trying to club it to death.
Cassowaries are solitary animals and should be left alone or they may start defending their territory violently. Most attacks occur when people attempt to feed the birds, so please, if you see a giant dinosaur bird, leave it alone.
Image Via James Reed [Flickr]
You wouldn't think a little, cute beaver could do any real damage against a human, but at least one beaver has killed a person when the animal chomped on a fisherman's leg, severing an artery. These creatures are territorial and defensive and have been known to bite, though deaths are pretty unheard of. The bottom line: if you see a beaver in the wild, just leave it alone.
Image Via Selbe Lynn
Oh sure, they look like helpless, innocent icons of a simpler time and every kid grows up crying when Bambi loses his mother to heartless hunters, but deer can be surprisingly aggressive. Generally speaking, deer will run away when they sense danger, but during mating season males can attack humans the same way they would charge another buck and once babies are born, mothers will risk their life to save their offspring. Deer have even been known to fight back after they are wounded by hunters. In recent years, people have been attacked and killed by deer in California, New Hampshire, Maine and Georgia and even more people have been hospitalized by the animals.
Even when they aren't trying to hurt anyone, deer are still the most dangerous animal in the US based solely on the number of deaths they cause. Every year an average of 130 people die in car accidents from hitting deer. That's right, you're statistically way more likely to hit a deer with your car and die than you are to get fatal attacked by a shark or bear -and that's when the deer doesn't want to attack you.
Image Via Jason Miles
8. Cone Snails
You probably don't think of snails as dangerous whether they live on the ground or under the sea, but cone snails all carry venom that is injected with a harpoon-like tooth that punctures its prey before paralyzing it. Most small cone snails are no more dangerous than a bee, but the larger versions and some more venomous varieties can kill a human. There is still no antivenin for cone snails and the larger ones can even puncture through protective gloves. Symptoms of a bite include pain, swelling, numbness, vomiting, muscle paralysis, changes in vision and respiratory failure that can result in death.
Image Via Richard Ling [Flickr]
9. Slow Lorises
This might just be the cutest, sweetest looking critter ever, but no matter how much you might want to grab one and cuddle it -don't. The slow loris though is actually one of the only poisonous mammals on earth. It produces the toxin in a gland in its armpit and the critters often rub their arms in the gland and rub the toxin on their young to protect them from predators. You might be thinking to yourself, 'yeah, but I have no intention of eating a slow loris, baby or not,' but the animal isn't just dangerous to animals stupid enough to take a bite. The primate can suck the poison into its mouth and then inject it into an enemy while biting. This poison can cause an allergic reaction in many animals (including humans) and result in death from anaphylactic shock.
It goes without saying that this is yet another reason you really shouldn't own one of these endangered animals as pets.
Image Via Paul Williams [Flickr]
10. Leopard Seals
They're so cute, but they sure aren't cuddly. Leopard seals are appropriately named in that they are the stealthy predators of the Antarctic, hunting penguins fish and other seals. In 2003, a leopard seal actually killed a biologist studying in Antarctica, dragging her under the water and holding her there until she drowned.
Source: National Geographic
Image Via NOAA Photo Library
Remember, just because something looks innocent and cuddly, doesn't mean it can't kill you. Nature is scary. Stay inside and read Neatorama instead.