“Aaaawww… cuddly koalas, wombats, quokkas and kangaroos…” If that’s what comes to mind when you’re planning your Australian adventure, you may want to read this:
Yep, “just another day in Australia.” There’s a reason why there are so many “everything wants to kill you in Australia” memes! Chances are, you won’t stumble upon any dangerous animals during your stay but you will probably hear about them.
(Photo from the blog Happy-go-lucky moose: a beach with a stinger net)
These are the 10 most dangerous animals in Australia according to HotelClub:
1. Box jellyfish (aka Boxfish, Sea Wasp, Fire Medusa or Stinger)
It doesn’t often kill swimmers, yet the box jellyfish usually has a 10/10 danger rating. It’s said to be the most toxic animal on earth with venom containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin. You will find it (… and avoid it!) in Northern Australia, especially between October and May.
The most lethal creature known to mankind is transparent and pale blue, so it’s very, very hard to spot it—inconvenient, isn’t it? The sting is said to be unbelievably painful. It immobilizes nerves, affects breathing and movement and a large dose can cause cardiac arrest and death within minutes. In Queensland, first responders are trained to deal with such emergencies and you will almost always find vinegar on the beach to help in the meantime (apparently, pee doesn’t work!).
2. Taipan snake
The most venomous snake in the world is endemic to Australia and lives in the desert. On the bright side, it tends to slither away from humans rather than fight them—only a handful of people have been bitten by this species and yes, they survived. Still, even with good travel insurance, you probably don’t want to test its highly toxic venom.
3. Saltwater crocodile (aka salties)
Saltwater crocodiles can be found in the ocean, but they are more likely to be in estuaries, and occasionally, freshwater. Historically widespread throughout Southeast Asia, it’s almost exciting in the wild—but not in Australia and especially not around Darwin where you should take these picturesque “crocodile warning” signs seriously.
Salties are huge, aggressive and opportunistic. They eat small and big animals, including humans, although it’s still fairly rare (24 deadly attacks between 1975 and 2009). Still, make sure it’s safe to swim and avoid swamps.
4. Blue-ringed octopus
They look absolutely amazing in a fish tank but don’t touch—these ball-sized creatures bite and are highly venomous. The sting is often fatal, the body shuts down, becomes increasingly paralyzed and breathing is no longer possible. There’s no known anti-venom, although treating a bite is possible and includes helping the patient breathe until the toxin is removed from the body.
Dangerously venomous and even fatal to humans, the stonefish is very hard to spot because it usually lies motionless, camouflaged—very inconvenient, for sure. They are found throughout shallow coastal waters of the northern half of Australia. Just don’t step on them.
6. Redback spider (aka Australian black widow)
If you’re usually scared of spiders, you can be extra scared of this one. It’s small (about 1 cm) but highly venomous and it can be found throughout the country. The bite can cause death but it usually doesn’t because antivenom has been available since 1956.
7 and 8. Brown snake and tiger snake
Both species are highly venous and can be deadly, but antivenom does exist. Phew.
9. Great white shark
Australia’s legendary beaches are a paradise for surfers… until you hear “SHAAAARK”!
The great white shark is a famous predator but its reputation as a man-eater is pretty unfair—Hollywood helped built this crippling image. Myths die hard, but the truth is that human-caused shark mortality is continuing, primarily from accidental and illegal catches in commercial and recreational fishing. Sharks also tend to mistake surfers for turtles or sea lions.
Don’t avoid Australian beaches because of possible shark attacks. Deadly encounters are rare, about 5 yearly in the entire world.
10. Sydney funnel web spider
This small spider (1–5 cm) loves to hide in cool, humid places—including under rocks, logs or in your shoes. In New South Wales, they can take shelter in homes if the weather is particularly hot (yes, even if you never invited them). The spiders can survive immersion in water for several hours by trapping air bubbles next to their skin, so spiders found at the bottom of swimming pools may still be alive. The bite is very painful and potentially deadly but antivenom exists.
Main articles about the WHV to Australia
16 Good Reasons to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa Adventure as a Solo Traveller
Applying for a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) To Australia: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide with Screenshots
Globe WHV insurance policy highlights
Your first steps in Australia with a Working Holiday Visa
15 Tips for a Successful WHV Experience
Working in Australia: Opportunities, tips for backpackers and job search advice
Fruit Picking Jobs in Australia: What, Where, How (and Why!)