Top 20 Adorable Animals That Could Kill You
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Cute… but deadly! For this list, we're looking at the most cute and/or beautiful creatures from around the world that, despite appearances, are actually quite dangerous. Our countdown includes Panda, Wolverine, Dingo, Swan, Kangaroo, and more!
Script Written by Michael Wynands
Top 20 Adorable Animals That Could Straight Up Kill You
Cute… but deadly! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Adorable Animals That Could Straight Up Kill You.
For this list, we’re looking at the most cute and/or beautiful creatures from around the world that, despite appearances, are actually quite dangerous. The only category of “deadly” creatures that won’t be considered are those whose threat is limited to spreading disease. Furthermore, we’d like to stipulate that the animals don’t need to have actually killed people to be considered – any creature capable of posing risk of serious harm will be included. So please, enjoy these animals from afar, and leave the exotic animals where they belong… in the wild!
The sheer size of these African animals should be reason enough to make people keep their distance. On average, adult hippos weigh in between 2,800 and 3,300 pounds! The thing is, apart from their weight, there isn’t much about the hippopotamus that’s particularly intimidating at a glance. A cute round body, short stubby legs, ears like Shrek, gentle button eyes – they’re freaking adorable. And, for the most part, hippos seem like fairly relaxed, lazy creatures. But make the mistake of getting close to one and you’ll quickly learn just how deceiving appearances can be. Surprisingly fast when threatened, extremely powerful and remarkably aggressive, they’re considered among the most dangerous animals on Earth.
Listen… no one in their right mind would suggest trying to hug that cigar smoking, questionably-coiffed berserker with adamantium claws and a heart of gold. But honestly, you might be better off trying to snuggle up with Wolverine than his namesake. Wolverines are a type of weasel, and while they might be the cutest weasel you’ve ever seen, they’re also among the most dangerous. Despite being one of the largest of the weasel family, typically weighing 20 to 50 lbs, they’re still quite small relative to the animals they’ve been known to hunt… such as caribou, deer, sheep, elk and moose! They may look like the miniature bear of you’ve been dreaming of, but they are notoriously ferocious.
#18: Leopard Seal
Seals, in general, have an uncanny knack for melting hearts. Exhibit A: this video of a seal climbing onto a kayak! Now, Leopard seals do have a slightly more carnivorous look about them than some other varieties, but they’re still pretty freaking cute. They’ve got those doe-eyes reminiscent of a plush toy. You know what you don’t typically find on a plush toy though? A mouthful of sharp teeth! Leopard seals grow up to nearly 12 feet in length and can weigh over 1,300lbs. Expert aquatic predators, they typically hunt fish and penguins, but they’ve been known to attack humans. In 2003, a leopard seal actually killed a researcher by dragging her underwater for some six gruesomely unadorable minutes.
Leopard seals are so high on the food chain that they only have one natural predator – and that’s the orca! With their distinctive coloring and seemingly playful nature, orcas have long fascinated animal lovers both young and old. What kid didn’t dream of forming a lasting bond with one of these gentle giants after watching “Free Willy”? Well, beautiful and intelligent though they might be, orcas are also commonly known as “killer whales”. And it’s not just a butch nickname. Being Apex predators, these powerful creatures hunt in packs and eat everything from fish to seals and seabirds. They’ve even documented attacking sharks and other types of whale! They’re not known to attack humans in the wild, but in captivity, they’ve claimed multiple lives.
These Australian hounds might look like your “run of the mill” adorable mutt, but they are truly wild. Genetically speaking, they share a lot in common with domestic dogs, but from a behavioral standpoint, they’re more akin to wolves and coyotes. As the largest land carnivore on the continent, the dingo is an alpha predator within its environment. People have captured or raised dingoes to be kept as pets, but it’s discouraged, as their wild instincts can prove too difficult to overcome. Dingoes are naturally shy and avoid humans, but have been known to attack when cornered or desperate. Typically these attacks result in mere flesh wounds, but that whole “a dingo took my baby” story? It actually happened.
Imagine one of those adorable gray little critters wrapping its arms around you. It sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Koalas resemble living teddy bears; what with those ears that look so impossibly soft. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving. Though they’ve been known to bond with employees at zoos and sanctuaries, approaching a koala in the hopes of getting in some cuddle time, for the average person, might just result in a trip to the emergency room. Koalas are territorial creatures and have extremely sharp teeth and claws. They’re also deceptively strong considering their relatively small size. Would you really wanna risk being on the wrong side of this fight?
Outside of a Pixar film, fish aren’t typically described as cute, but just take a look at this face… Anyone who says they DON’T want to cuddle with adorable little bundle of joy is either lying or a cyborg who is also lying. Sadly, a pufferfish snuggle-fest is more than ill advised… it’s quite possibly a death sentence. Not only are most species of pufferfish toxic, many of them are also counted among the most poisonous creatures on the planet. They contain tetrodotoxin, which is a highly deadly neurotoxin – a small dose can prove fatal and there is NO known antidote. Pufferfish have the ability to inflate their bodies, which in some species are literally covered in sharp, poisonous spines. So... maybe keep them in the aquarium.
#13: Glaucus Atlanticus
You know what sounds even less likely to be adorable than a fish? A slug. But this little beauty with a big name looks like a later generation Pokémon - seemingly too bright, colorful and whimsical to exist outside of anime. The good news is… they’re totally real. But before you get your hopes up, you should know that handling these pocket-sized fantasy creatures is highly discouraged. Concealed in the tips of their long tentacle-like appendages are venomous nematocysts, or “stinging cells,” which they acquire naturally via their diet. They can deliver a concentrated sting that is sure to hurt, but in rare cases can even prove fatal. Of their two nicknames, the blue angel and blue dragon, the latter seems more appropriate.
#12: Tasmanian Devil
If it’s furry, walks on four legs and even vaguely resembles a dog, cat, or bear, chances are that people are going to fawn over it and fantasize about being able to snuggle up with one. These little devils, native to Tasmania – thus the name – are actually quite cute... that is when you can find a picture of them not snarling! The largest living carnivorous marsupial, Tasmanian Devils actually have the strongest bite force of any terrestrial mammal relative to its size. Ferocious eaters armed with sharp fangs and claws, they’re not to be trifled with. Thankfully, contrary to a popular myth, Tasmanian devils are not known to attempt to eat live humans. Still, probably better off not cornering one.
#11: Metasepia Pfefferi, the Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Sure, this little cephalopod is undeniably flashy, but perhaps “Pfeffer’s Killer Cuttlefish” would’ve been a more helpful name? Found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, this underwater beauty only grows to somewhere between a modest 2.8 and 3.1 inches in length, which really adds to the overall cuteness factor! Unfortunately, this unassuming small package conceals a deadly defense mechanism: a potent toxin. It thankfully doesn’t have the ability to sting or bite, but ingesting its flesh would be a very bad idea. As for those attractive bright colors? The cuttlefish actually only showcases its brighter colors when it feels threatened. So if you’re looking at one that’s putting on a show, it’s actually telling you to back off!
Perhaps more beautiful than adorable… these large water birds are commonly associated with poise, grace and elegance in popular culture. And from a distance, they certainly appear calm and serene. But then you get too close to one, at which point… composure be damned, swans are straight up vicious. Swans have a habit of aggressively chasing humans when they feel threatened. But during mating season, it’s often the swans that wind up doing the threatening. In the town of Thrupp, Gloucestershire, two swans had people afraid to leave their homes, as they indiscriminately attacked humans and cars alike. In 2012, a man was actually knocked out of his kayak by a swan, which then proceeded to attack him in the water until he drowned.
#9: Poison Dart Frog
Not all frogs are cute, but poison dart frogs, or “arrow frogs,” with their small size and bright colors, are admittedly pretty endearing. Unfortunately, those colors, which make you so desperately want to pick one up, are intended as a warning to stay away. As a result of their diet, which consists of ants and termites specific to their rainforest habitat, their bodies collect and store toxins, which is then secreted from their skin. The name “poison dart frog” comes from a historical use of their skin secretions by indigenous tribes, who would dip their darts and arrows in the toxin, to deadly effect. Thankfully, when kept in captivity and given a simplified diet, their toxicity diminishes, making handling possible.
#8: Monkey / Primates
Not all of them are deadly... and not all of them are that cute either, but there’s no denying the popularity of monkeys as exotic pets. Humans have a long history of bonding and developing close relationships with our primate cousins. They are the animal species most similar to ourselves, and exhibit many human-like behaviors and characteristics. Unfortunately, our familiarity with monkeys and comfort working with them in close proximity can sometimes yield dangerous or even deadly results. Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans all possess remarkable strength, and when threatened, frightened or angered, they can easily bite or pummel a human to the point of causing serious injury or death.
Looking like giant rabbits – and what, with the way they carry their young around in a pouch – kangaroos are undeniably endearing. But while they might not generally be thought of as the most dangerous of creatures, kangaroos can do some serious damage when they feel so inclined. They might look friendly and harmless, but these large marsupials can use those powerful legs to deliver bone crunching kicks when feeling territorial. And while it’s easy to be distracted by their long ears, the way they hop around or the adorable little 'roo in their pouch… you should take a closer look at their forepaws. They’ve got razor sharp claws which they can use to savagely maul anything that they feel is a threat.
#6: Polar Bear
Hopefully you don’t actually need to be told that polar bears are dangerous. The fact that they’re a bear should be enough to make you keep your distance. But… given how soft their fur is and how docile they generally seem to be, we can understand why you might fantasize about meeting a friendly one and getting a big, snuggly bear hug! Unfortunately, doing so would quite possibly prove to be your last! Remember, these arctic creatures can weigh over 1,500 pounds! There have only been a few dozen fatal polar bear attacks recorded since the late 19th century, but you shouldn’t mistake infrequency with a lack of capability. Polar bears are powerful predators that, while not typically aggressive, may attack if provoked.
Big, beautiful and often associated with memory and luck, elephants do pretty well for themselves in terms of their public image. Many children grow up reading Babar. Bart Simpson even owned one. While we’ve talked about a few large animals on our list today, elephants are probably the most commonly associated with the term “gentle giants”. And that may be true… until it isn’t! Female elephants can be aggressive when protecting their young. But the most dangerous elephant is a bull during a period known as “musth”. With testosterone levels 60 to 140 times their usual level, bull elephants in musth become extremely aggressive and volatile, attacking other elephants and humans, both in the wild and in activity, sometimes with fatal results.
They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and thanks to videos like this one, people are desperate to get some firsthand experience play-fighting with these delightful creatures. In fact, pandas are so desirable – and inaccessible – that people in China have started shaping and coloring the fur of dogs to look like pandas. Unfortunately, real pandas aren’t nearly as manageable as their canine look-alikes. Despite their roly-poly clown like behavior, real pandas can be incredibly violent. When the mood takes them, they have the weight behind them to cause some serious damage. They might be vegetarians, but their bite is among the most powerful of any carnivore. In 2006, a man drunkenly climbed into a panda enclosure and was savagely mauled. So just stick to watching silly panda videos, mmmk?
#3: Bottlenose Dolphin
Beautiful, super intelligent, graceful and incredibly playful – what more could you ask for in a swimming companion? And swim with them you can. It’s a popular tourist attraction in many countries; an opportunity to get up close and personal with these remarkable aquatic mammals. However... the issue lies in the popular assumption that they are all friendly and peaceful. Despite the fact that they’ve been known to save swimmers, they’re still wild animals, and can respond negatively if harassed or agitated. Dolphins have been observed ganging up on other creatures, like sharks or porpoises - bludgeoning them to death with their noses for fun. They’ve also bitten and pulled humans underwater. In one case, a male dolphin even charged a woman, aggressively attempting to mate with her.
Looking like the world’s first Pokémon or a hybrid between a beaver and a duck, the platypus is undeniably odd-looking…. but also extremely cute. Fun fact: Platypus anatomy is so unique that the first European naturalist to study one dismissed the preserved body as a fake composed of various animal parts. And, platypuses are among only a handful of mammals that lay eggs, which is quirky fun times. Unfortunately, much to the disappointment of anyone who dreams of snuggling up with a platypus, they’re also among an exclusive club of mammals who produce venom, which is not quirky fun times. The males have a spur that they can use to deliver an extremely painful dose of toxin, typically strong enough to kill a dog.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
#1: Slow Loris
These painfully cute little primates have gone viral multiple times over. People get a real kick out of them holding on to small items, like cocktail umbrellas, and the way they react to being tickled, which causes them to raise their arms. But here’s the sad truth. The reason they’re raising their arms, according to experts, is that they’re most likely trying to reach the poison gland on their elbow so that they can deliver a lethally toxic bite to the person or creature by whom they feel threatened. For this reason, slow lorises are usually mutilated by having their teeth ripped out before being sold as pets. So let’s just appreciate their cuteness from afar in nature documentaries – for their sake and ours.