Animals are cute, there’s no doubt about it. They’re so cute that when you’re watching a nature documentary you might even momentarily question why humans feel the need to destroy so much of their habitat and generally disrespect wildlife. Oh well, that’s just the way things are, and at least you learned some cool facts!
Of course, deciding which animals are cute is a completely subjective enterprise. There are some, however, that most of us agree are not: spiders, wildebeest, star-nosed moles, and the like. There are also those that are stunningly majestic and downright adorable (especially the babies), but that we know are very dangerous. We’re talking about animals like big cats and polar bears. Even though polar bears drink Coca-Cola just like us, they’re also the largest land predators on the planet.
This list introduces some cute animals, but trust us, you might want to think twice before approaching them in the wild. In general, you should probably just leave wild animals to live in peace. But if you do happen to find yourself close to one, better to be equipped with some knowledge. Here are 15 deceptively adorable animals that could kill you.
15. The Mute Swan
Swans are considered beautiful by most people. There’s even that story about the duck that was ugly but actually ended up being a swan and prettier than the rest of his family.
Although swans are not very large (usually weighing between 20 and 30 pounds), they are incredibly territorial and protective of their nests. Scientists and nature officials recommend giving them space, as they are known to often become extremely aggressive towards anything they see as a threat. Despite their relatively small size, they have been known to attack humans by flying into them at high speeds, knocking people off of boats and taking out water skiers. Another danger they exhibit is their tendency to try and keep their opponents underwater after knocking them in. Outside of Chicago, a man was reportedly knocked off of his kayak and then actively blocked by the swan while attempting to swim, making it impossible for him to get back to shore.
14. The Long-Tailed Weasel
Look at this furry little guy tearing into the carcass of a much larger animal. Weasels may be small, but they’ve been known to kill prey up to 10 times their size.
Unlike many other animals, who can eat a large amount and then not hunt for a bit, weasels have to consume half of their body weight every day because of their extraordinarily high metabolisms. Because of this, weasels have an insatiable appetite and are exceptionally aggressive. They kill their prey much like some big cats: they immobilize the victim before delivering a powerful fatal bite to the back of the head. Look, you could probably take on a weasel, but it’s going to mess you up quite a bit.
13. The Koala
Koalas are generally sleepy and cute animals, but if they feel threatened, they’re probably going to attack.
Like the weasel and swan, they’re small, with adults weighing in the 25-30 pound range. So while it’d be hard for them to kill you, they’re equipped with razor sharp canines and powerful jaws that can cause severe bite wounds, and easily rip off a small appendage or two. They also have long claws which they use for climbing, but they can also cut through flesh with great efficiency.
The good thing about koalas is that they’re really not going to attack unless they feel threatened, so if you keep your distance you should be fine. Like a lot of animals, female koalas are fiercely protective of their young.
12. The Red Fox
Foxes are adorable, skittish animals and man do we love when they’re anthropomorphized. If they could speak English, I’m sure they’d be very witty and clever.
Like koalas, foxes generally keep to themselves. If cornered, though, they can become aggressive. As we’re finding, small furry mammals can really hurt you. Generally foxes are only a danger to small livestock like chickens but also there have been rare cases of foxes attacking human children.
11. The Panda
Although bears are well known for being dangerous (unfortunately, because they look so cuddly), we don’t usually lump the Giant Panda in with their other more fearsome cousins.
First of all, they’re vegetarian. Most other bears are omnivores and some, like the polar bear, have diets comprised almost exclusively of meat. Second, scientists don’t even know how closely related to other bears they are. What’s more, when we observe them in captivity, the words that immediately spring to mind are “slow” or “lazy.”
While it is true that pandas are generally low energy and that they try their best to avoid humans (the most dangerous predator), they are still bears. They are big bears. If threatened, they’ll use their teeth, powerful claws, and often nearly 300 pounds of weight to protect themselves in any way possible. That could easily result in a dead human.
There was a case of a panda reaching out of an enclosure and slamming someone who was trying to get a picture through the bars. Zookeepers said that it was unlikely that the panda was trying to hurt the visitor, but does it really matter? The result is the same, so keep your distance.
10. The Slow Loris
This is one you’ve probably heard of. The slow loris is considered by many to be one of the cutest animals out there. Their eyes will instantly melt your heart (I think that’s an expression) and they move adorably slowly. They’re fuzzy and ridiculously small, some of them weighing slightly less than a pound.
Unfortunately, their elbows secrete a toxin which they then lick in order to give their bites a venom infusion. So make sure that the loris is happy with you if you’re around one. Although the bite is only very dangerous to those humans who are allergic to the toxin, by the time you find that out, it’s probably too late.
9. The Dingo
There’s a picture of the puppies here on purpose— they look amazing and you would probably adopt one right now if you could. Although they look like cute little pups, they’re actually more like wolves. They’re wild animals and they’ve been known to attack humans.
They are typically shy animals, but in Australia there have been a handful of cases where dingoes have become violent, mostly towards smaller humans. A 9 year-old boy was killed after a mauling and several other children have been badly injured. Wildlife experts urge the public to remember that they’re untamed animals, and that you can’t approach them as you would a domesticated dog. Like all wild animals, their behavior is instinctive and unpredictable.
8. The Beaver
The beaver is tremendously territorial, and it has one feature which makes it potentially deadly: its characteristic large front teeth.
What you might not know is that not only are these teeth long, they’re also incredibly sharp. This means that if a beaver bites you, the teeth can easily cut through limbs and potentially cause severe blood loss. There’s even a reported case of a human fatality. In 2013, a European fisherman attempted to take a picture beside a beaver. The creature then bit him twice in the leg. The sharp teeth punctured a vital artery and the man was not able to get help in time, resulting in his death.
You’ve likely been around beavers many times. The nice thing is that they’re considerate, snarling and beating their tails into the water to warn anything that’s invading their space. So be wise and heed the warning.
7. Leopard Seal
This endearing creature lives in freezing Antarctic waters, so chances are you’re satisfied viewing it through National Geographic pictures and won’t have a scary encounter.
Still, some people choose to study these creatures so we can learn about them and acquire these adorable pictures. It’s through this that we’ve been able to observe their dangerous nature.
Leopard seals are the only seals that eat other seals. Their only known predator is the killer whale. They’re strong, fast, and masters of their environment. If you look up pictures of them feeding you’ll find some graphic shots of them killing penguins (in some, you can see the penguin being torn apart in the air). They’ve also been known to play with their food for a while before killing it.
6. The Honey Badger
Honey badgers have become something of a cultural icon, and if you know anything about them, it’s probably that they just don’t care.
The reason they don’t is because they’re extremely dangerous. Although they’re small, their jaws are so powerful that they can easily grind up bone, allowing them to eat every part of their prey and even eat whole turtles (shell and all). On top of this, their skin is so thick and armored that a direct blow from a machete will just pierce it, and they are basically impervious to ranged weapons like arrows and spears. You also probably noticed that they kind of look like skunks. Well, on top of all of this, they can produce a terrible odor, known to repel almost all animals that dare to challenge it.
5. The Dolphin
The dolphin is an animal that gives off an overall air of affability. They’re incredibly smart, it always looks like they’re having a great time, and you can swim with them and they’ll give you kisses. They seem pretty amazing, right?
Well, most of the time they are, but recent research suggests that they may be a lot more deadly than we imagined. Dolphins have been reported to attack animals like sharks and porpoises in large numbers. Often, they will rake these animals with their teeth before bludgeoning them to death, using their beaks as a sort of club. There also is a high rate of infanticide, for reasons scientists have yet to discover. Many baby dolphins have been killed by adults, with their skulls and vertebrae completely smashed.
While dolphins have been known to interact kindly with and even help humans in the wild, their intelligence and unpredictability makes them an incredibly lethal animal. Strangely enough, much like humans, dolphins seem to kill other animals for sport, as in the incidents listed above the victims are often left mortally wounded or beaten to death. The dolphins simply carry on, with no apparent intention of eating them.
4. Heck Cattle
Cows are generally thought of as peaceful, relaxed animals. Although bulls can be aggressive, they don’t generally attack without reason and are only so angry because of all the bad things humans do to them.
However, there is an exception. Heck cattle comprise a small sub-section of the species that were bred by Nazi scientists in an attempt to bring back the traits of wild cows called aurochs, which went extinct in the 1600s. This is not made up. These “Nazi” cows exhibited greatly increased aggression as reported by farmers who came to own them.
Many farmers sent the cattle to slaughter out of fear for their own safety and that of their other animals. As one farmer reported, they would charge you for no apparent reason, seemingly with the express purpose of “wiping you off the face of the earth.”
3. The Wolverine
This guy looks like a fuzzy little bear. In reality, wolverines are related to the weasel, but are much much more deadly.
There have been no reported wolverine attacks on humans, although that probably has a lot to do with the fact that they inhabit the arctic circle, where humans are rather scarce. It doesn’t mean they couldn’t kill you.
Although the largest recorded wolverine topped out around 75 pounds, there have been reported cases of a wolverine taking down a moose, an animal 20 times its size. That’s ridiculous. They also have a reputation as one of the most ferocious animals on the planet, eating anything and everything. Wolverines are so aggressive that they will either kill their prey or die trying.
Let’s face it— one on one, a human probably wouldn’t stand a chance. There was even a case where a wolverine was put into an enclosure with a polar bear, which it immediately attacked, clamping down on the bear’s throat until it suffocated. Enough said.
2. The Chimpanzee
People have a lot of affection for chimpanzees, maybe because they share the vast majority of our DNA. But they also share our penchant for intense violence against their own species, and it sometimes extends to humans.
Chimpanzees live in tight knit communities and compete with each other for territory and food. These battles often become violent, with males beating each other to death and others killing babies to ensure the dominance of their group.
Chimps usually weigh up to only 130 pounds, so a lot of humans have them outmatched in sheer size. The thing is, chimpanzees are so much stronger than humans pound for pound that it’s not even close. There have been numerous cases of chimps (usually those that worked with humans) viciously attacking people and usually severely mauling the face.
1. The Elephant
Elephants are beautiful, awe-inspiring animals, and they’re overwhelmingly peaceful. Still, we all realize that if they wanted to, they could crush us in an instant.
Like most other species, young males can be overly aggressive, and they do sometimes go on rampages that intersect with villages (mostly in Asia) and kill those not quick enough to get out of their way. Sometimes elephants just cause unintentional destruction due to their size, and this contributes to the couple thousand humans killed annually by them.
But the main reason elephants can be so dangerous is that, like other animals on the list, they are incredibly intelligent. In fact, they are known to be one of the most emotionally intelligent animals on earth. How does this come into play? If an elephant perceives a threat to its safety or is treated badly in captivity (no matter how subtly), they have been known to find and kill the specific humans who caused them harm. That’s right, there have been multiple cases where elephants have gotten revenge.
So don’t cross an elephant, because they literally won’t forget it. Of course, they’re primarily peaceful, but as with any living thing, you must always be cautious and respectful.