Where They Live and Why They’re Scary!

The world’s most dangerous animals may have large teeth and a vicious bite and some have a poisonous sting. Every year, bears kill 50 people, sharks kill around 100 people, and scorpions kill more than 2000 people – but the world’s deadliest creature is much smaller than any of these, and this little creature kills between two and three million people!

The world’s most dangerous creature has to be…

The Mosquito

Mosquitoes are found all over the world, except in the very coldest parts. In countries with a temperate climate, like the UK and most of Europe, they hibernate in the cold winters and only become a nuisance in the summer. If you get a mosquito bite, it feels a little uncomfortable and itches for a while. In tropical parts of the world, like India and South East Asia, Africa, Central America, Mexico and most of South America including Brazil, they’re much more than just a nuisance – they can be deadly.

The female mosquito feeds on the blood of animals and humans by piercing a hole in their skin and injecting saliva to make the blood run more easily. The saliva has parasites in it and these parasites cause all sorts of horrible diseases. The worst ones are malaria and yellow fever.



Mosquitoes rest during the day in cool, shady places. At night, they’re hungry and go in search of blood. Most people are bitten when they are asleep and don’t know they’ve been bitten until they get red, itchy bumps on their skin. If they don’t get treated quickly it can be fatal. That’s why when people go on holiday to tropical countries, they have to get vaccinated and take tablets, and at night they sleep under special mosquiot nets.  (so don’t worry, you can take precautions) Unfortunately, the local people are too poor to afford these things, that’s we help raise money through events such as Comic Relief to help them.

Poisonous Snakes

There are more than 2,000 types of snakes in the world and a quarter of them are poisonous. Half of these can kill a human and 100,000 people are killed every year by snake bites, so snakes have definitely earned second place on our list of most dangerous animals.

The deadliest snake is the King Cobra and it lives in the forests and countrysides of India and South East Asia, in places including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. It’s big and powerful, and it can move really quickly. It can grow up to four metres long and can weigh as much as a small child. The King Cobra uses its tongue to ‘sniff’ out its prey, even when it’s a hundred metres away. When it reaches it prey, it raises its head and begins to sway,  mesmerising its victim before striking and and sinking in its sharp teeth. The teeth are like hypodermic needles which inject poisioninto an animcal so it is soon dead. If the dead animal is big, the king cobra can dislocate its jaw and swallow the whole animal in one go!


 

Cobras don’t choose to attack people but it will defend itself if it thinks it’s under attack, for example if someone treads on them or gets too near, as can happen on farms, which means farm workers can be at risk of dying from a snake bite unless they can get to hospital in time. So why don’t the farmers kill the cobras? The answer is……because the cobras kill a lot of mice and rats. Without the cobras, the farms would be over-run with rats which would spread more disease.

King Cobras are even used to entertain people. In India, Snake charmers  play a flute and the snake rises from a basket and begins its swaying dance.


 

The King Cobra may be the deadliest but it’s not the only poisonous snake. You should also beware of:  Diamondback Rattlesnakes which live in the desert areas of the United States; Copperback and Tiger snakes in Australia; Green Mamba, Puff Adder and Bush Viper on the grasslands of Africa; or even the common adder in this country (don’t worry, it isn’t deadly – but it’ll give you a nasty bite if you go too close).

If you have a fear of snakes, then you will safe and sound in Ireland. St Patrick is supposed to have got rid of them well over a thousand years ago by charming them into the sea. Nice story, but the truth is – there never were any snakes in Ireland!

The Scorpion

This ugly creature is found all over the world, on every continent, except Antarctica. You’ll find the really nasty ones in the desert areas of the Sahara, South Africa, Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico in the United States. The scorpion has been on on Earth for millions of years and can live high in the mountains and in the hottest deserts. There are over a thousand types of scorpion and about 25of them are poisonous enough to be able to kill a human. That’s why around 2,000 people die every year from scorpion stings.

The most dangerous ones live in deserts where they hide under rocks, waiting for their prey. When a small mouse comes along, the scorpion grabs it with its powerful pincers. It arches its body and strikes with its tail and poison in the tail soon kills the poor creature. That meal can last for a whole year. Even when it’s not hungry, a scorpion will sting anything that comes near it.



If a deadly scorpion attacks someone, it’s usually in the desert, and the person can only survive if he gets to a hospital in time……..and he often doesn’t. Understandably, people who have to sleep out at night in the desert always shake out their bedding and clothes before getting into them. Often, they wear very thick socks and don’t bother taking them off!

You might be wondering if there are  any scorpions in the wild in the the UK?  The answer is ….yes, but there’s no need to worry. A few of them reached this country on a ship about a hundred and fifty years ago. There’s a little colony of them on an island in the Thames Estuary, not far from London. They’re about half as long as your little finger –  and they’re harmless.

The Crocodile

Having read about snakes and scorpions, you might think keeping close to water is best. Think again! Crocodiles kill about 800 people every year. These frightening-looking creatures are straight out of prehistoric times. Crocodile Dundee might not be afraid of them, but the rest of us should be.

The Nile Crocodile is, as you would expect, found along the banks fo great River Nile in Africa. The other nasty one, the Salt Water Crocodile, is found in Northern Australia, South East Asia and parts of Africa. The Saltwater Crocodile is one of the most dangerous. It lies in the water looking just like a floating log. It’s waiting patiently for something to come by. It’ll attack anything, including humans.



Even huge water buffaloes aren’t safe. With terrifying speed, the crocodile launches itself out of the water like a rocket. Its huge sharp teeth grab onto the poor creature passing by. It drags it prey into the water and does a death roll, spinning the creature around and dragging it to the bottom. Sometimes it leaves it there for a while before ’tucking in’. One good meal can keep a crocodile happy for quite a while.

That doesn’t mean though that it’s not already waiting for its next victim.

By the way, alligators may look exactly like crocodiles, but they’re not from the same ‘family’. There are two types, the American and Chinese. American Alligators live in the Everglades of Florida and Louisiana in the United States and have killed around twenty people in the last thirty years. Not as many as the crocodile, but still one to fear!

So where can we go to be safe from all these deadly creatures? The sea? I’m afraid not

The Box Jellyfish

The Box Jellyfish is a ghostly looking thing with 24 eyes and long tentacles. It just seems to float around harmlessly, feeding on small sea creatures but this horrible creature kills dozens of people each year. In fact, it’s one of the deadliest animals in the world. The trouble is that each of those tentacles has enough poison to kill sixty people. If a person is stung, he usually dies in less than four minutes. He doesn’t even have time to reach the beach. There is an antidote for the poison but it’s usually too late for it to work.


 

Swimmers in the sea often can’t see these deadly tentacles because they are almost invisible. Even worse, the Box Jellyfish can swim up to two metres a second, faster than any swimmer! Soo keep your wits about you if you’re visiting South East Asia and Northern Australia.

The Shark

If lions are kings of the jungle, then sharks are lords of the ocean. They fear nothing and will attack anything. People have been afraid of sharks for centuries. There are stories of ships sinking in tropical oceans and the people in the water being eaten by sharks circling around them.

A lot of shark attacks are reported around the coast of Australia. Tiger Sharks are found in tropical waters such as the Indian Ocean. The Great White Shark lives in colder seas, for example around the coast of the United States

Their fear was made worse when a film called Jaws was shown in cinemas. It gave the Great White Shark a terrible reputation.


 

Not all sharks are dangerous but some of them definitely are! Out of 360 types of shark, four of them are killers.

If people are afraid of the Great White Shark, they should be more afraid of the Bull Shark and Tiger Shark. They’re even more nasty.


 

These killer sharks can smell blood from miles away and when they do smell it, they go into a ‘feeding frenzy’. They attack anything that moves, even small boats and surfboards. Those razor sharp teeth can bite through almost anything. They fly through the water like a bullet, have incredibly powerful jaws and have superb eyesight. No wonder a hundred people are killed by them every year……and a lot more survive but have terrible injuries.

If anyone is attacked by a shark, they are advised to “punch it on the nose”. Better still, stay out of the water.

Are there any dangerous sharks in the UK? Well, every few years, fishermen report seeing what they think is a Great White Shark whilst fishing off the coast of Cornwall. No-one has ever seen one from the land and there have definitely never been any reports of shark attacks. You might think twice about swimming in the sea in Australia, but in Cornwall, it’s not a problem – jump straight in .

The Poison Dart Frog

Who would think that a brightly coloured little frog could be so dangerous? Well, some of them are. A princess would definitely not be wanting to kiss the Poison Dart Frog. It’s found deep in the tropical rainforests of South America. It’s so colourful that other creatures see it very easily.


 

To protect itself from being attacked, the Poison Dart Frog ‘secretes’ poison onto its back, and it has enough poison to kill ten thousand rats. Or worse still, a dozen human beings!


 

It’s called the Poison Dart Frog for a very good reason. The natives in the rainforest used to stick the tips of their arrows onto the frog’s back and then use the poisonous arrows to hunt animals or when they were fighting other tribes. Not many people have been killed by the poison dart frog. That’s because they’re only found in the tropical rainforests of South America – Brazil, Colombia, Panama, or Ecuador –  and not many people live there.

The local natives have to be very careful though. They can become very ill even drinking water that the frog may have been near.

The South American frog is definitely to be avoided – and you should never let your pet near a American Toad or Marine Toad. They live in the Eastern part of the US or Canada, and whilst they’re not deadly, ie they haven’t killed anyone, they are poisoness enough to kill a cat or a small dog.

Deadly Spiders

Spiders have been on earth for three hundred million years and are found on every continent, except Antarctica, and the deadliest live in Brazil and Australia.

Lots of people have a fear of spiders. It’s called arachnophobia. Little Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet certainly suffered from it, according to the nursery rhyme. Most spiders are harmless to humans and help us by eating flies – but all spiders are poisonous. That’s how they stun their prey. However their poisons are only strong enough to deal with little insects and flies so most spiders are no trouble to humans.

I said ‘most’ because some are fatal to humans. The deadliest spider in the world is the Brazilian Banana Spider. It lives in the South American rainforests, like the poison dart frog and it’s just as dangerous. One bite can kill a human.



Sometimes it hides away in banana plants and bites farm workers when they’re cutting the bananas down.

The Sydney Funnel Web Spider is found all over Australia. It usually hides away in rotting wood and under rocks. When the weather is wet, it sometimes hides in garden sheds and garages, even in basements. That’s when people start to worry. The Funnel Web Spider hasn’t killed many people – about a dozen in the last hundred years and none at all in the last 30 years. People are still very wary because a bite can make them very ill.



Most spiders like to keep away from trouble, but some are very aggressive. The Black Widow Spider will attack a person for no real reason. Why is it called the Black Widow Spider? The female is so nasty she eats the male spider after they have mated.



Tarantulas frighten a lot of people. They’re not as poisonous as some spiders, but they’re usually big and hairy. Unlike most spiders, their fangs can puncture human skin every time.



Big Cats

All cats have something in common – they’re all meat-eating or carnivores, whether it’s little ‘Tiddles’ in the garden or the ‘big cats’. So who are these big cats? The ‘big four’ are lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars.

Lions

The lion is king of the jungle and he’s top of the food chain in Africa.


 

He might spend most of the day lounging around, but when he’s hungry, he’ll attack anything, even elephants. With his razor sharp claws and vicious fangs, he’s a match for anything, including humans. He stalks his prey and quickly pounces. There’s no escape. Lions don’t usually kill people but around 70 are still killed every year.

Tigers

Like lions, tigers look really cuddly, but you really wouldn’t want to meet one unless there are bars in between you. Tigers are the largest of the big cats and live in India and other parts of Asia. Unlike lions, they like to hunt on their own but they have the same frighteningly sharp claws and teeth and pounce just as quickly.



Most of the time, tigers stay away from people. When they get older and slower though, they can’t catch their usual prey. That’s when they become man-eaters. Anyone walking outside the village is easy prey!

Leopards

If you think lions and tigers are frightening enough, check out the leopard. It kills more people than either lions or tigers. In India, one leopard killed more than 400 people before it was caught and killed.



Not only has it got those nasty claws and teeth, it can run at 36 miles an hour. It doesn’t need to stalk its prey – it just outruns it!

Jaguars

Jaguars are the least well known of the big four. They live in the rainforests of South America, lying on the branches of trees, waiting for its next meal to come along. People aren’t on the menu but they still avoid jaguars when they see one.



So if you want to see, or avoid (!) the ‘big cat’s, where do they live? Lions on the grasslands of Africa; tigers and leopards in India and South East Asia; jaguars in South America. You wil also find cougars (they’re sometimes called pumas or mountain lions) in both North and South America.

Where in the world is safe? Answer – Europe. Some of them may have lived here in the past, but nowadays, they’re all in zoos and safari parks.

Elephants

Not every elephant is as friendly as Dumbo. They can crush and kill any animal on land, even huge rhinos! When a whole herd stampedes, anything in the way is in real danger. Most of the time, elephants like to be left alone. If someone comes into their territory though, they aren’t very happy. If they charge, there’s no escape unless you’re in a vehicle.



For such a big animal, elephants are quite quick. They’ve also got those vicious tusks to attack with. Sometimes elephants go into a rage and that’s when they’re really dangerous. Even the ones in zoos can become nasty for no reason. That’s why three or four zoo keepers are killed every year!

African elephants sometimes attack people in their villages and trample them to death. In India, young male elephants go into villages at night when everyone is asleep. Hundreds of people are killed every year.  African and Indian elephants are part of the same ‘family’ which were first on Earth over seven million years ago. Not that long ago, they were found in most parts of Africa – the Romans used them in their battles.




Now, most African elephants are protected from poachers in national parks. The largest one is Kruger Park in South Africa.

Indian elephants aren’t only found in India. They’re found all over South East Asia and a lot of them are used by farmers to move heavy objects.

The Cape Buffalo

The Cape Buffalo kills as many people as the lion, maybe more. It lives on the plains of South Africa and Tanzania. A fully grown Cape Buffalo is afraid of no other animal. Even lions usually only attack old ones or young ones.



Anything or anyone in the way of a stampeding herd of Cape Buffalo is usually trampled to death. That’s why they’re sometimes called the ‘widow maker’. If a lone buffalo is wounded, it defends itself by going into a rage and attacking.

The Polar Bear

The Polar Bear looks so cuddly. You feel as though you could go up to one and give it a hug. Think again! You’d soon become his next meal. Seals are the Polar Bear’s usual diet, but humans can be on the menu too.



Fortunately, few people live in the Polar regions of the Arctic (northern Canada, Alaska and the northern parts of Russia) and the ones who do are very careful to stay out of the way. That’s why so few people are killed by Polar Bears. Sometimes, when Polar Bears are especially hungry, they will raid rubbish bins for scraps of food. That’s when the local people stay inside!

The Hippopotamus

The hippopotamus lives on the banks of rivers in central and southern Africa, together with elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalo – and is afraid of none of them. People, on the other hand, should be very afraid. It may not look like it, but a hippo can run at nearly twenty miles an hour, much faster than a human.


 

Hippos like to wallow in rivers and if they’re disturbed they get very angry. Tipping over a boat and killing the passengers is nothing to them. Many famous explorers who came to Africa, including David Livingstone, have written about their narrow escapes from angry hippos.

Other dangerous and deadly creatures include the Puffer Fish, which can kill a person in minutes. Stings from stingrays and the blue ringed octopus can be fatal. The stonefish is as poisonous as a cobra. The list goes on…

Do you know any facts about the world’s most dangerous animals? Please leave a comment below.


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