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Not All Predators Are Large and Intimidating

“Weasels Ripped My Flesh!” “Elephant Stampede” and, of course, my all-time favorite, “Cannibal Crabs Crawl to Kill!” Death comes for us all. It also comes in all sizes, as this list of killer animals will illustrate. In a game of survival of the fittest, do you have what it takes to survive these beasts and bugs?

All the Killer Animals a Planet Can Handle

“Can you believe the headlines from these pulp magazines?” the equatorial adventurer asks. “You would think the whole of the wildlife kingdom is out to get us.”

The two guys sit studying the men’s magazine at the base of the jungle while waiting for their ride. A shadow passes behind them.

“It’s just so fantastical. I mean, what would it take to make that many weasels mad enough to attack? The guy in this picture is battling for his life,” he says.

The other man nods his head in agreement and says, “We are the apex predator here. I don’t see how a real man could allow himself to fall victim to these beasts.”

The first man continues, “I’m going to step back here and take a leak. Holler if our ride shows up.”

And with that, the man strolls back into the trees to take care of business. As he fiddles with his belt, movement in the bush catches his attention. He looks up in time to see a pair of glowing eyes in the dense foliage.

This is followed by an onslaught of gnashing teeth and flesh-ripping claws. A muffled scream is cut short as the man is dragged into the jungle.

The first man lifts his eyes from the magazine as he hears the just-out-of-sight commotion. “Hey, are you all right back there? Quit playing around!” he shouts.

His last sight is a large cat with blood-soaked fangs bearing down on him with ferocious speed. The tiger hits him harder than an all-pro linebacker, taking the wind from his lungs before he can even scream.

Jaws rip through him like a threshing machine, and then it is all over. And another body is dragged into the impenetrable greenery.

Lurking in the Unlikeliest of Places

Our planet contains an abundance of large predators. Lions, bears, and sharks are the stuff of nightmares if they catch you by surprise. Palms get sweaty, and legs grow weak at the thought of facing down these beasts as they try to steal your life away. However, are they really worth your fear?

But are there other, deadlier animals that we may not consider as often that actually take far more human life on an annual basis? (Hint: Yes, there are.) So, let’s take a look at some of these killer animals.

1. Hippopotamuses

(Photo by iStock Photos)

For many years, the hippo has been considered one of the deadliest animals in Africa. They are known for their aggression and short tempers and will knock over boats to get to their victims. These beasts kill approximately 500 people a year.

2. Crocodiles

Killer Animals: Crocodiles.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

A single pair of eyes floating above the water waits to reveal a reptile that seems to be made mostly of jaws and teeth. Crocs strike with blinding speed and without warning from just beneath the water. They clamp down, dragging their doomed prey into the liquid murk while performing the death roll to break bones and drown their quarries. These monsters account for around 1,000 human deaths each year.

3. Worms

(Photo by iStock Photos)

Tapeworms and roundworms kill close to 5,000 people per year. Likewise, tapeworms are responsible for cysticercosis, and the Ascaris roundworm can lead to an even worse infection called ascariasis. Ascariasis affects the lower intestine and is responsible for the majority of worm-related deaths in the world.

4. Tsetse Fly

Killer Animals: Tsetse fly.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

The diminutive tsetse fly stacks upward of 10,000 bodies per year. They transmit the sleeping sickness, a parasitic infection that starts with headaches, fever, and joint pain. This then moves on to major neurological damage, which usually precedes death.

5. Assassin Bug

Killer Animals: Tsetse fly.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

These buggy killers come in over 3,000 species worldwide and account for as many as 12,000 kills annually. Their most notable characteristic is a curved dagger of a mouth known as a rostrum, used to kill prey.

The assassin bug, aka “the kissing bug,” will kiss or, more accurately, spear its victim, inject lethal venom, and then suck on the prey to feed. They can bite humans too, although they are far too small to kill people this way.

Their usual means for taking human life is by transmitting something called Chagas disease. This is an inflammatory, infectious disease that can lead to major organ failure, which is what so many people fall victim to when the assassin bug is in town.

6. Freshwater Snails

Killer Animals: Freshwater snails.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

The unassuming freshwater snail appears harmless enough, but again, it seems that terror can often come in a small package. These snails can carry parasitic worms that infect people with a disease called schistosomiasis. This can cause intense abdominal pain and damage the liver, intestines, and spleen.

You may not even have to come into contact with the snail. However, by entering the water where the snails live, you can still contract the disease. These creatures account for more than 20,000 deaths per year.

7. Dogs

(Photo by iStock Photos)

It seems that man’s best friend can actually be quite dangerous, and canines account for some 30,000 deaths annually. Some of these deaths can be attributed to people being mauled, but the majority of fatalities come from rabies. Indeed, there are lessons to be learned from Old Yeller.

8. Snakes

Killer Animals: Snakes.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

Snakes kill anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people worldwide each year. Many of these people could have been saved if they had received proper care in time. Not to mention, if enough antivenin were available.

This is why it pays to watch your steps in the wilderness. You never know who may be sunning themselves on a rock or hanging out on the other side of that log.

9. Humans

(Photo by iStock Photos)

We may be our own worst enemy. Humans kill more humans than any other mammal in the world. We are responsible for around 475,000 homicides each year. Although the honor changes regularly, Tijuana, Mexico, is the current murder capital of the world. They should be so proud.

10. Mosquitoes

Killer Animals: Mosquitoes.
(Photo by iStock Photos)

These little buzzing insects are such a nuisance. Who knew that they are also the deadliest animal on Earth? Mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria, Zika, dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile fever are responsible for over one million deaths every year. They are the source of widespread suffering and death all around the globe and the number-one killer of humans.

Yes, death comes in all shapes and sizes. However, the largest and most fearsome animals cannot account for the larger death tolls of our much smaller biological adversaries. Those microbes that kill us from within should, in reality, strike the most fear in our hearts.

However, that is not to say that the sharp fangs and deadly claws of apex predators (and the occasional swarm of weasels or crabs) won’t take their fair share in blood, too, as prolific killer animals.

This article was originally published in the Skillset Spring 2022 issue. Purchase this issue in print or digital at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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