The 15 Deadliest, Most Dangerous Animals in the World

Ever wonder which members of the animal kingdom are most likely to kill you?

Sure, you probably know that running into a great white shark while you’re surfing is a special kind of dangerous and stepping on a rattlesnake during your evening constitutional could result in a quick and painful death. But what about those animals you never knew were dangerous?

Most animals don’t hunt humans on purpose (except for rare cases of animals who are also serial killers). But if provoked, certain species are likely to lash out and kill people. Some may not even know they’re murdering anyone. Ahead, check out the deadliest animals on the planet, ranked.

15. Sharks — 6 deaths per year

a close-up of a tiger shark face from the left

Sharks are far less dangerous to people than you might think. | Lapandr/iStock/Getty Images

While shark attacks are well publicized, they’re not as common as the media might lead you to believe. In 2014, there were only three shark attacks worldwide, and it 2017, that number was five. Shark attacks resulting in minor or major injuries are far more common than fatalities.

Next: Wolves

14. Wolves — 10 deaths per year

An European grey wolf

Human encroachment is a huge reason for wolf attacks. | Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

Disney movies feature far more wolf attacks than you’ll find in the real world. One study found that human encroachment on protected areas is part of the reason for an increased number of wolf attacks over the last 50 years.

Next: Lions

13. Lions — 22+ deaths per year

Lion with a cub

Most deaths occur in Tanzania. | Ricardoreitmeyer/iStock/Getty Images

People getting killed by lions varies from year to year, but the rough average is right around 22. Most deaths caused by lions occur in Tanzania. They peak during harvest time in areas where there isn’t very much prey.

Next: Elephants

12. Elephants — 500 deaths per year

A one-day old baby Asiatic elephant walking next to his mother

Elephants can become territorial. | Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

People kill more elephants than vice versa, but they are still responsible for the deaths of about 500 humans annually. Elephants are vegetarians but can become territorial, especially as farmers start encroaching on their habitats. An adult elephant stands as much as 13 feet tall and can weigh 6 tons.

Next: Hippopotamuses

11. Hippopotamuses — 500 deaths per year

Baby pygmy hippo

They can charge and trample humans. | Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

They don’t look like cold-blooded killers. Still, hippos are extremely territorial, and they were once considered the deadliest animal in Africa. They can kill by charging and trampling humans or even tipping over boats on purpose.

Next: Tapeworms

10. Tapeworms — 700 deaths per year


These parasites can be deadly. | selvanegra/iStock/Getty Images

Ever hear the phrase “small but deadly?” Tapeworms are parasites that may cause an infection called neurocysticercosis, which kills around 700 people per year. Adult tapeworms can live up to 30 years in your digestive tract.

Next: Crocodiles

9. Crocodiles — 1,000 deaths per year

Siamese Freshwater Crocodile

They cause several human deaths in Africa. | anakeseenadee/iStock/Getty Images

Never smile at this murderous reptile, which is responsible for causing the most human deaths in Africa. It’s believed that crocodiles have been attacking and killing people for the last 400 million years.

Next: Ascaris roundworms

8. Ascaris roundworms — 4,500 deaths per year

roundworm Ascaris

They attack the small intestine. | Sinhyu/iStock/Getty Images

This type of roundworm can cause an infection called aschariasis which kills about 4,500 people per year by attacking the small intestine. This disease affects children more than adults.

Next: Tsetse flies

7. Tsetse flies — 10,000 deaths per year

Tsetse fly

They transmit parasitic infections. | Attardog/iStock/Getty Images

Like many other tiny killers on the list, this fly murders by transmitting a parasitic infection known as sleeping sickness. It can cause headaches, fever, joint pain, and itchiness, but left untreated it can lead to neurological problems and even death. However, the number of deaths has been decreasing and is expected to continue going down.

Next: Assassin bugs

6. Assassin bugs — 12,000 deaths per year

Assassin bug

They carry a deadly disease. | marcouliana/iStock/Getty Images

With a name like assassin bug, it’s no wonder they’re one of the top killers in the animal kingdom. Also known as the kissing bug, this little guy carries Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can easily kill a human. Their name comes from their unique tendency to bite people on the face.

Next: Freshwater snails

5. Freshwater snails — 20,000 deaths per year

Water snail

They carry a sometimes-fatal disease. | MarkMirror/iStock/Getty Images

These slimy crawlers carry a disease called schistosomiasis, which causes intense abdominal pain and bloody stool and urine. Millions contract the disease annually but only a small percentage of those succumb to it.

Next: Dogs

4. Dogs — 35,000 deaths per year

Smiling rottweiler in front of water

Rabid dogs are most dangerous. | horsesdogscats/iStock/Getty Images

Dogs — or more precisely, rabid dogs — are one of the deadliest animals on the planet. You can get medical treatment if you believe that you’ve been bitten by a rabid dog (or any other rabid animal), but you need to act quickly. Once you start experiencing symptoms of rabies, it’s too late to get the antidote.

About 40% of all rabid dog bite victims are under 15, and most occur in poor rural communities in Asia and Africa.

Next: Snakes

3. Snakes — 100,000 deaths per year

Cobra snake

Many snake bites require medical attention. | skynavin/iStock/Getty Images

United States-based snake bite incidents are on the rise. They won’t all kill you, but some will, and snakes are the third most deadly animal in the world. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people in the United States get bitten every year, and about five of them die.

Next: Humans

2. Humans — 437,000 deaths per year

People walking on the city street.

Humans are a huge threat to other humans. | Dovapi/iStock/Getty Images

The second biggest threat to humans? Other humans.

The global homicide rate in 2016 was 385,000, an increase of about 8,000 from the previous year. The five countries with the highest violent death rates include Syria, El Salvador, Venezuela, Honduras, and Afghanistan.

Next: Mosquitoes

1. Mosquitoes — 750,000 deaths per year

Mosquito in a Lab

They can carry many deadly diseases. | Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images

They’re so much more than just pesky guests at a picnic — mosquitoes are the No. 1 most murderous animal on Earth.

Like other insects on the list, mosquitoes kill by carrying a host of deadly diseases. More than half of all mosquito-related deaths can be attributed to malaria, and most of these cases originate in sub-Saharan Africa. Dengue fever is another mosquito-borne killer that is common in children in Asian and Latin American countries.

Read more: These Shocking True Stories of Man-Hunting Serial Killer Animals Will Haunt Your Nightmares

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