Australia is well known for it’s kangaroos and deadly creatures. The island nation does indeed hold some creatures that can be pretty scary. There are more than 10,000 species of spiders and lethal sea animals that you probably didn’t even know existed. While some of the animals look like they could be from the set of a creepy horror movie, they are in fact very real. If you don’t believe us, you can visit Australia and see them for yourself. The Australian Museum in Sydney has a ranking of Australia’s most dangerous animals based on the level of threat they pose. Whether they are a threat or not, just the images may be enough to keep you far away from Australia.
1. Sea spider
For some of us, spiders are the ultimate nightmare. If you are someone who has Arachnophobia, then you should definitely stay away from Australia. Not only do they have spiders on land, they also have spiders in water. Sea spiders, also called Pantopoda, are marine anthropods that are found in seas and oceans around the world. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 1,300 known species of sea spiders that ranger from 1 mm (0.04 in) to over 70 cm (2.3 ft).
2. Deep sea lizardfish
The deep sea lizardfish can be a fisherman’s ultimate nightmare. Can you imagine catching something like this while going on a fishing trip? Also known as Bathysaurus fero, with their needle-like teeth and large eyes, are the world’s deepest living apex predators. This means that they devour anything and everything that comes in their path; including their own kind. This beast of a fish can reach over 27 inches in length and has a slender body with tough scales.
Their large pupils help them see clearly in the depths of the ocean to detect prey. Deep sea lizardfish hunt by standing still. Once it sees it’s prey, it attacks with a rapid burst. To top things off, these fish are hermaphrodites; bearing both male and female sex organs.
The Viperfish is mainly found in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, at depths of up to 9,000 feet (2,800 meters). Although rarely seen by humans, the creatures do sometimes show up in the catches of deep water trawlers. The Viperfish, as you would imagine, is one of the fiercest predators of the deep. It has a large mouth and even larger, sharp fang-like teeth. The teeth are so large that they do not fit inside its mouth. They actually curve back on the outside, giving the viperfish its distinctive deep sea monster appearance.
Viperfish vary in size from 12 – 24 inches (30 to 60 cm) and some form of these fish are actually transparent, allowing them to hunt in stealth mode. These sea monsters have a lifespan of around 30-40 years, however, they cannot survive in captivity for more than a few hours due to changes in pressure.
4. Eastern brown snake
The Eastern brown snake is known as Australia’s deadliest snake. This species of snake is found all around Australia and is likely responsible for the most snake bite fatalities in the country. These snakes are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day, especially on warm sunny days. Eastern brown snakes are agile and fast-moving snakes that hunt during the day and return to their burrows by night.
These snakes are considered the 2nd most venomous snake in the world and they are found in the most populated parts of Australia; which puts them in contact with humans more often. Once bitten by an Eastern brown snake, the victim will collapse, convulse, experience diarrhea, dizziness, renal failure, paralysis and cardiac arrest. Without proper medical treatment, their bites can prove fatal. With the help of efficient first-aids and anti-venoms, they are now only responsible for 1 or 2 deaths per year.
5. Sydney funnel web spider
When most of us see a spider inside our house, we immediately freak out. Can you imagine finding the world’s most venomous spider in your house? Well, one woman in Australia did just that, and it’s actually more common than we might imagine. Funnel-webs are notorious for their venom and reports show that their bites are capable of shutting down our nervous system to cause death in less than 15 minutes.
Funnel-web spiders are extremely common in Australia’s east coast but can also be found from Queensland to New South Wales. Once bitten, the victim will start experiencing severe pain throughout their body. Symptoms include nausea, muscle cramps, profuse sweating and numbness around the mouth. According to the Australian Museum, there have been 13 recorded deaths credited to this species of spider. It is, however, only the male bite that has proven fatal.
6. Box jellyfish
The Australian box jellyfish is considered to be the most venomous marine animal. Although it looks squishy and harmless, their sting can be lethal for careless divers. The tentacles are covered in biological booby traps known as nematocysts – tiny darts loaded with poison. Divers who get too close to the box jellyfish and get stung are injected with their poison. The person may experience paralysis, cardiac arrest and even death; all within a few minutes of being stung.
The lethal varieties are found primarily in the Indo-Pacific region and northern Australia. While most species of jellyfish float and go wherever the current takes them, the box jellyfish is capable of swimming as fast as 4 knots. They are also capable of seeing any threat coming towards them, so if you ever see one, be sure to stay clear.
7. Irukandji jellyfish
At only 1 – 2 cm in diameter, the Irukandji may be the smallest jellyfish in the world. It’s size, however, doesn’t keep it from becoming one of the deadliest creatures of Tropical North Queensland’s coastal and reef waters. Their tentacles can reach up to 1 meter long and its small size and translucent body allows it to camouflage itself from anyone and everyone. The Irukandji is often referred to as invisible danger and these marine stingers sting at least 50 – 100 tourists every year.
Thirty minutes after being stung, the victim starts experiencing the Irukandji syndrome. The syndrome can be marked by severe lower back pain, cramps, sweating, anxiety, nausea and other, more fatal symptoms.
8. Cone shells
Cone shells, also known as killer cone snails, are notorious for possessing a very powerful sting which they use to capture prey. According to BBC Earth, the cone shells or cone snails are a group of marine snails found in tropical oceans and seas around the world. They have specialized teeth, known as radulae, that helps them skewer and poison their prey.
Once the toxin is inside the victim’s body, it affects the nervous system, paralyzing its victim. There have been cases where people have been fatally wounded when handling live cones, especially those that feed upon mollusks and fish.
9. Blue-ringed octopus
The Australian coast has about four different species of blue-ringed octopus. Although they are called blue-ringed octopus, they are usually brown in color. Once they are disturbed or threatened, their color changes and iridescent blue lines and rings appear throughout its body. The blue rings are in fact a warning sign for those who get too close to it. Despite it’s small and soft stature, the blue-ringed octopus is one of the ocean’s most venomous creatures. It can cause great harm or even kill a human with just one bite.
Their saliva contains tetrodotoxin, which is a powerful nerve toxin that causes respiratory failure. There are at least three recorded deaths in Australia credited to the blue-ringed octopus. All three incidents were due to human error, since the victims either tried to get too close for a picture or tried to take it in their hands.
10. Bull shark
Of all the sharks in the world, the bull shark is the most dangerous. According to National Geographic, they are the most aggressive species of sharks and they tend to hunt in waters where humans often swim. Although humans are not part of their meal plan, they will eat almost anything. They hunt during the day and at night, since they require salt in their bodies to survive.
These species of sharks can also survive in freshwater since their bodies have adapted a way to keep salts within their kidneys, even when they are nowhere near an ocean. Experts are still studying the sharks to determine why they have developed such an unusual ability.
Here are some bonus animals:
11. The Giant Gippsland earthworm (non-deadly)
The Giant Gippsland earthworm averages 3 feet in length but has been seen as long as 9 feet. They are native to Victoria, Australia and these bad boys take about five years to reach their fully matured stage. They can live up to ten years and are actually very useful for the environment because they can convert soil into humus, which improves the fertility of the soil. They are non-threatening, yet extremely creepy.
12. Python devouring crocodile after a lengthy battle
In 2014, a 10 ft snake, thought to be a python, fought with a crocodile at Lake Moondarra, near Mount Isa. The battle lasted for hours and after defeating the crocodile, the python dragged the dead crocodile onto land and ate it.