Dangerous Australian animals every visitor should know about

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review

You've probably heard the joke that in Australia, everything is out to kill you. But how much of the talk is true, and what's just exaggerated to make our island seem more dangerous than it actually is? Will drop bears actually fall from the sky and maul you? Do we actually find dinner plate-sized huntsman spiders in our toilets on a daily basis? Read on to find out.

Animals in Australia that don't want to kill you

We thought we'd start with this section because it's honestly a lot shorter than the list of animals that do.

  • Drop bears. Also known as the koala's blood-thirsty cousins, the drop bear is (thankfully) just an urban legend. Real koalas can be dangerous if you get up close and personal, but they don't tend to be rabid and they certainly don't fall from the sky to ruin your holiday.
  • Quokkas. Found specifically on Rottnest Island, these little guys are a protected species. While they'll happily pose for a selfie, please don't touch them, they don't have any predators on their island apart from snakes, so they don't know how to fight. That said, they might just throw their babies at you which isn't good for anyone.
  • Kangaroos. Although these guys can be vicious if they feel threatened, and they're certainly a risk on Australian roads, kangaroos probably aren't going to seek you out for a boxing match.

Animals in Australia that (maybe) want to kill you

Now that we've gotten a bit of myth-busting out of the way, let's get into the list of animals that might want to kill you, because there's a surprisingly large amount of wildlife that you do have to be careful of.


Commonly referred to as "mozzies", mosquitoes are nasty little blood suckers that are pretty much everywhere. Although only the females bite, many people can have allergic reactions, and, more importantly, they can carry some pretty nasty diseases. Chances of them killing you are very slim, but still, you really don't want to take home Ross River or dengue fever so be safe about these little nasties and use repellent whenever you're outside during their most active hours (late afternoon and dusk in spring and summer).


Because we like to keep visitors on their toes, we have two kinds of crocs here in Australia. The first kind, freshwater crocs, are pretty harmless, so please don't stomp on them. The second kind, however, which are affectionately known as salties, are definitely not friendly.

Mostly found in the Northern Territory, saltwater crocodiles aren't the type of animal you want to come across while you're having a leisurely swim or fish. Their death rolls aren't just a myth so steer clear of anywhere they're reported lurking.

Pretty much any spider you come across

Spiders are never fun to come across, but if you find one in Australia, the situation can get dangerous quickly. The three most dangerous ones to look out for are white tails (also known as white tips), redbacks and funnel webs, but they're not the only scary eight-legged critters you'll come across. While we don't regularly find them in our toilets, huntsman and wolf spiders are common occurrences in Australia and although they're nowhere near as dangerous as the others, they can get quite big and give you a decent fright as they gallop towards you.


Our snakes here in Australia are some of the most poisonous ones in the world so it's important to keep an eye out when out for a walk or hike. With brown snakes, death adders, inland taipans (the world's most venomous snake) and more slithering around out in the bush, it is vital that you keep your eyes open when out for a stroll. You'll also need to keep an eye out for death adders on the beach because they love a good soak in the sun as much as you do.


You're probably wondering how a sea blob can be dangerous, but if you're headed to the coast for the day in Australia, you need to be wary of box jellyfish. Their sting is incredibly dangerous both in terms of the reaction it causes in your body and the potential for drowning due to paralysis, so if these guys are reported as being around, stay out of the water.

Blue ring octopus

While we're on the subject of things in the sea that are out to ruin your holiday, you also need to be careful of blue ring octopuses. Although they're gorgeous to look at, their sting is highly venomous and not something you don't want to mess with. Now is probably also a good time to point out that despite what you may have seen on TV, peeing on a blue ring octopus or box jellyfish sting is NOT going to do you any good, so please seek medical attention immediately.


While dingoes may look cute and cuddly, they're not dogs, so please don't try to pat them. You've probably heard about the lady who had her baby stolen by a dingo, and unfortunately, this one isn't just an urban legend. Dingos can be quite savage, so it's best to avoid them. You'll mostly find them in the bush, so keep an eye out if you're camping or going for a hike.

Most sharks

Pretty much any shark that you're likely to come across while swimming at an Aussie beach wants to kill you. It's kind of their thing. While sharks aren't nasty for the sake of being nasty, they're notorious for confusing humans with animals that are part of their usual diet, so if you hear a shark alarm, get out of the water as fast as you can.

Bull ants

While a single bull ant bite will usually just hurt a whole lot, the main issue with these guys is when they gang up on you. Like most ants, bull ants move in groups, and they're not opposed to climbing up your legs and trying to take bits of you home for dinner. They're everywhere in Australia and can get quite large, so if you see a nest, we advise staying well away.

Final word

Although not everything in Australia wants to kill you—the people and our pets are actually quite friendly—there are quite a few members of our wildlife population that mean business. If you're coming to Australia for a holiday, always keep your eyes open and follow any rules or regulations set out for dealing with our fauna.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

Recent Articles