Animal attacks

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So people seem to think certain animals are particularly deadly. Like sharks. They can kill, it's true, but your concerns are all out of whack.

Here's some fun facts, last updated in April 2022:


Deaths by Animals - World Wide

Top 10 Animal Killers in the World
# Animal Deaths/Year ... Comment
1 Mosquitoes 1,000,000 via disease, mostly Malaria in developing countries like Africa
2 Humans 475,000 counting homocides only
3 Snakes 50,000 the most snakebite deaths are reported in India, but it's also high in sub-Saharan Africa plus South & Southeast Asia.
4 Dogs 25,000 pet dogs turned aggressive
5 Tsetse flies 10,000 via sleeping sickness
6 Assassin bugs 10,000 via Chagas disease in South America
7 Freshwater snails 10,000 via tropical diseases
8 Scorpions 3,250 with the highest reported mortality rates from Mexico
9 Ascaris roundworms 2,500 most common in underdeveloped areas and highest in children
10 Tapeworms 2,000 prevalent in under-developed communities with poor sanitation


(source)


Honorable Mentions from 2018 (source)
Animal Deaths/Year ... Comment
Crocodiles 1,000 nostly the nile crocodile in Sub-Saharan Africa, plus saltwater crocodiles in Southeast Asia and Australasia.
Hippopotamuses 500 one of the deadliest animals in Africa.
Elephants 500 may attack if startled, threatened, or injured, or when protecting their calves.
Lions 22 many in Tanzania, since lions get slaughtered outside nature reserves in most other African countries. Another (source) claims 200, which is a big discrepency.
Wolves 10 the whole 20th century no bad wolf attacks in the US, but Europe and Russia have had some.
Sharks 6 each year there might be ~90 reported bites, mostly nearshore and near sandbar areas, but very few deaths.


... so turns out sharks get a really bad rap, you are ~100x more likely to be taken out by a hippo, 1,600x by a snail and 160,000 x more likely to be taken out by a mosquito. Also the people who do die from sharks are usually swimming in shark heavy water, which you probably don't do.



Deaths by Animals in Australian

Australia has a population of only ~26 million (as of 2022) - thirteen times less than the United States - but all my friends in the US seem to think that everything in Australia is trying to kill you. I'm not going to deny there aren't a bunch of injuries each year. I've been bitten by 3 snakes, but they were (non venomous) pythons that I was trying to catch. Mostly snakes steer away from you, and yes, occassionally a "death adder" will bite someone, but you probalby won't die if you go straigh to the nearest hospital. Spiders? We get huge spiders, but they don't really kill people... hardly ever. The top animal killers in Australia are the ones you try to pet and wouldn't suspect would ever kill you.


Top 10 Animal Killers in Australia
# Animal Deaths/Year ... Comment & Source
1 Horses & friends ~14 includes horses, ponies and donkeys and mostly from falls. (source)
2 Cows ~3.3 mostly vehicle accidents. (source)
3 Dogs ~2.7 mostly by attacks on children (source)
4 Kangaroo ~1.8 car accidents (source)
5 Bees ~1.6 allergic reactions (source)
6 Sharks ~1.6 fatal attacks (source)
7 Snakes ~1.4 fatal bites without treatment (source)
8 Crocodiles 0.9 yup, although another (source) says 1 or 2 deaths per year.
? Spiders 0 that's right, you might have 10,000 people hospitalized, but most years 0 reported deaths (source).


Now compare that to:

  • ~1,200 death per year on Australia roads. (source)



Deaths by Animals in North America

As of 2022 United States has a population of ~330 million, but it was surprisingly hard to find good data on animal attacks. Mostly becaure there are not that many deaths at all - the national parks are so small america has lost its "wild" and has far fewer animal deaths per population than Austalia in all categories. The main source I found quoted deaths over the last 50 years, so I had to divide the numbers by 50. Take these numbers with a grain of salt, but they are ballpark, and it's not clear or not if they included Canada to try to showcase larger numbers.

Top 10 Wild Animal Killers in the United States
# Animal Deaths/Year
1 Brown bear 1.4
2 Snake ~1.14
3 Shark ~1.14
4 Black bear ~1.08
5 Alligator 0.66
6 Cougar 0.32
7 Polar bear 0.2
8 Wolf 0.04

(source)


Now compare that to deaths from the animals you wouldn't expect

Mostly Unexpected Deaths by Animal in the US
Animal Deaths/Year ... Comment
Hornets, bees and wasps 56 stings
Dogs 30-50 attacks from people's pets
Livestock 40 about half from cows, half from horses (mostly falls from horses)
Dangerous spiders 7 worry about the brown recluse and the black widow
Venomous snakes 5 rattlesnake might bite 7000-8000 per year, but most are treated or not a leathal dose

.. and then bears, cougars, alligators and sharks are all pretty low.

(source)


  • Gun deaths: 33,000 per year (source)
  • Ball point pens: ~100 per year (source) .... meaning you're about 10x more likely to be killed by a biro lid than any "scary" wild animal you can imagine in the states.



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