Most Dangerous Wild Animals In America: Top 5 Creatures, According To Experts

Though we generally do not need to outrun dangerous wild animals for fear of losing our lives like days of old, it’s still good to know the kinds of predators that lurk. And that’s why we searched the web to find the most dangerous wild animals in the U.S., and we’ve listed them below for you.

Snakes and spiders. Now that we have your attention, we’re willing to bet your reaction to those two words wasn’t a positive one. And as it turns out, there’s research to back it up. Upon the first time seeing a spider, infants display a pre-programmed wide-eyed response. A study shows that even six-month-old babies’ pupils dilate when seeing snakes or spiders. This response, researchers say, adds to the argument that fear of such creatures is facilitated by instinct, rather than just learned. Babies were shown pictures of snakes, spiders, flowers, and fish, and their pupils grew much larger at the sight of spiders and snakes. The study authors conclude that the fear of snakes and spiders is of evolutionary origin. Like primates, mechanisms in our brains enable us to identify objects as “spider” or “snake” and react to them very fast. This obviously inherited stress reaction in turn, predisposes us to learn these animals as dangerous or disgusting.

But don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be attacked by a wild animal, unless you happen to reside in a low-income country. Recent research, based on almost 50 years of data, identified 5,089 reported attacks by large carnivores that resulted in harm. A third of these attacks (32%) were fatal. The number of reported attacks increased over the 49-year period, particularly in impoverished nations. Humans and animals are increasingly having to co-exist because of climate change, but researchers hope these latest findings can help people better understand these wild animals. As it turns out, India is where the bulk of the attacks took place (72%) followed by southeastern Africa (14%). And the predators doing the attacking? Leopards were most frequently involved, and the victims were mostly children, unfortunately.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Now that we have you looking over your shoulder for creepy crawlies, let’s have a look at our list. Below is our list of the five most dangerous wild animals in the U.S., according to experts. Of course, we want to hear from you. Which of these animals do you consider to be the scariest? Comment below to let us know!

The List: Most Dangerous Wild Animals in the U.S., Per Experts

1. Bears

The Advocates talk about the different types of bears in the U.S. and what to do if you encounter one. “The United States is home to three species of bear: Black, Grizzly, and Polar bears. Of these three, the Black bear is the least dangerous. Black bears aren’t aggressive if you keep your distance and stand your ground. If you happen upon one, the best strategy is to try to scare it off. Yelling aloud and waving your arms about can make the bear think you are bigger than you are and a real threat. If the bear does charge you, do not attempt to escape into a tree. Black bears are savvy climbers and have no problem knocking you to the ground. Hikers and campers should be especially wary of the two most infamous and terrifying types of bears, the Grizzly and Polar. If you are ever unlucky enough to encounter one of these two fearsome beasts off the beaten path, you should probably consider praying to your preferred deity of choice. Whatever you do, running is the worst option. Both species will see you as prey if you try to hoof it to safety.”

For some stats on bear attacks, AZ Animals shares, “On average, bears kill between two and five people every year, and so far in 2021, there have been six bear attacks in North America that resulted in fatalities. There have been five fatal attacks by black bears between 2020 and 2021 and 10 between 2014 and 2019. The brown bear was responsible for six deaths between 2020 and 2021. Polar bears have killed 20 people between 1870 and 2014, which is an average of about seven people per year. Grizzly bears seem most likely to kill humans of all the American bears and 2021 saw four deadly attacks by this huge bear. Bears can be a bit unpredictable, and at least one bear killed a person who had taken to feeding it. Sows with cubs are especially dangerous.”

USA Today says that “despite being at the top of the list, brown bears aren’t that common in the U.S., as they are mostly found in Alaska, which is called Bear Country. They can also be found in parts of Montana and Washington, as well as much of western Canada. Their counterpart, black bears, are the most common bear in North America and can be found throughout Canada, most of Alaska and parts across the U.S.”

2. Venomous Snakes

“Despite fatalities from snakebites being extremely rare in the U.S., these reptiles still inspire fear. There are basically two categories of venomous snakes that can cause serious harm. These are pit vipers and coral snakes. Pit vipers include rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouth snakes. There are 25 species of rattlesnake in the U.S. and Mexico, possessing bites that can be anywhere from mild to seriously venomous. Some rattlesnakes have bites that are capable of killing a human. One type of rattlesnake to watch out for is the eastern diamondback, which lives in North and South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida and can reach 84 inches (2.4 meters) in length, making it the largest venomous snake in the U.S.,” writes Owlcation.

For more on another type of rattlesnake, Animal Vivid adds that “the timber rattlesnake is one of the most venomous snakes in America and it can kill if threatened. It is known for the dark zigzag pattern on the skin, very rough scale, and grows up to 3-7 ft in length. Because these snakes don’t like cold, they tend to hibernate for about 7 months during the winter. Rattlesnakes are known to be one of the deadliest animals in the United States with their big size and extremely venomous long fangs that can easily pierce flesh. Their venom prevents wounds from closing and can cause symptoms like swelling, serious pain, bleeding, paralysis, and even death after entering the bloodstream. Get medical treatment immediately.”

According to Travel Snippet, “Snakes are the second biggest killer on the continent and one of the most dangerous animals in North America. We don’t need to tell you why you need to be wary of snakes and there are more than a few deadly species in the states. Around 7,000-8,000 people receive venomous bites every year in North America, and around five of those victims die. Snakes have been responsible for almost 60 fatalities in the last 50 years, with most of the fatal bites being attributed to rattlesnakes, although copperheads account for more snakebite incidents than any other venomous species in North America. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the largest of its species, is the most deadly of all.”

3. Sharks

“Given their reputation, people are surprised that sharks kill so few human beings. Scientists believe that much of the time, a shark that attacks a human is mistaking the human for a seal. After an exploratory bite reveals that the creature isn’t the shark’s usual prey, the fish goes about its business. The victim isn’t so lucky. About one person is killed by a shark every two years off the coasts of America. Most of these attacks happen in Florida, California, Hawaii, Texas, and North and South Carolina. Dangerous sharks include the famous great white shark, the sand tiger, mako sharks, bull sharks, dusky sharks, tiger sharks, and hammerheads,” writes AZ Animals.

According to AmeriCamp, the U.S. hosts some of the most dangerous sharks: “The watery depths of North America are inundated with some of the most fearsome sharks on the planet; all three of the main man-eating species of sharks can be found off the coast of North America. Dubbed the shark attack capital of the world, the number of shark attacks within the USA is representative of half of the reported global attacks. The difference between species varies in accordance to region. Statistically, the majority of attacks occur in Florida and California; every recorded fatality in California has been attributed to great white sharks. On the other hand, in Florida, bull sharks and tiger sharks carry out most attacks.”

And what do you do if you are attacked by a shark? “For sharks, the goal is to be calm and try to exit the water while having the shark in sight, according to the Victorian Fisheries Authority. If attacked, try to use whatever objects near you to hit the shark’s eyes, nose and gills. Putting up a fight goes the same for alligators,” notes USA Today.

4. American Alligators and Crocodiles

“The American crocodile is mainly found in Florida”, writes Animal Vivid. “It is one of the largest and most dangerous reptiles in the United States. Although crocodile attacks in the United States are rare, you can’t put it past them. These reptiles can hide in plain sight, are known to be aggressive, and will attack with their razor-sharp teeth. The latter easily tears through flesh. Crocodiles will attack if they feel slightly threatened, or even if they come across you and their prey instinct is activated.”

“Found in subtropical and tropical freshwater from southern Texas to North Carolina, as many as four people have been killed by alligators in 2022 alone and more than 30 since 1970, making them one of the most dangerous animals in North America. Following suit with their shark attack file, more attacks and deaths from alligators take place in Florida than anywhere else in the Americas, with almost 450 unprovoked bites since records began in 1948, averaging eight per year. The American alligator, often referred to colloquially as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile that is native to the Southeastern United States. There are only two species of alligator in the world, and the American gator is the larger, reaching lengths twice as long and weighing three times as much as the Chinese alligator,” notes Travel Snippet.

AmeriCamp talks about what kind of punch the jaws of an alligator can pack: “Measuring over 15ft and weighing half a ton, these ruthless water-dwellers are tenacious in their hunt for flesh. Boasting a toothy clamp strong enough to crush the bones of its prey, alligators use their brute force to render their prey useless, before moving in for the kill. Research has revealed that the power generated by the jaws of an alligator surpasses any laboratory-measured bite of any animal. Opportunists with predatory instincts, alligators will devour anything that they come across, though they do not immediately deem humans as prey; their diet largely comprises smaller animals that can be consumed in one bite, such as birds, fish and mammals. Alligators do not have slicing teeth; therefore, alternative methods are adopted when eating larger prey. For instance, alligators store the carcass and allow it to rot, to enable easier digestion. Additionally, the death roll is a technique often utilized by an alligator, whereby the prey is gripped, spun and shook. With more people entering areas deemed alligator territory, this has coincided with an increase in attacks on humans.”

5. Spiders

The Advocates says, “In the United States, alone, there are over 3,000 species of spiders. Out of this extraordinary amount of spiders, only 3 are known to be venomous. The Recluse spider, the Hobo Spider, and the infamous Black Widow. If not treated both promptly and properly, Black Widows and recluse spiders (Brown and Chilean) are especially dangerous and even deadly to children, the elderly, and the sick. Luckily, these spiders are mostly rare for humans to encounter. Nonetheless, you should remain vigilant, particularly when it comes to Black Widows. These dangerous creatures tend to live in closer proximity to humans and their bites are extremely painful and can have long-lasting consequences. Thankfully, their distinct red markings are easy to spot.”

According to Owlcation,“the two most venomous spiders in the U.S. are recluse spiders and widows. Despite its small size, the brown recluse is the most dangerous type of spider, with a bite that can develop into a necrotic ulcer capable of leading to gangrene and permanent tissue damage if untreated. This spider is also sometimes referred to as a ‘fiddle-back’ because of the violin-shaped mark on its abdomen. There are numerous species of widow spiders that live in the U.S. The black widow is the most notorious, given its recognizable markings and the dangerous bite of the female (as well as her habit of eating the male after mating with him). Thanks to anti-venom, the bite is not often fatal if medical treatment is sought out quickly.”

And if you’re trying to find black widows and brown recluses, Bird Watching HQ can point you in the right direction. “The best places to look for these venomous spiders in the United States include overhanging ledges, woodpiles, under benches or stones, near entrances to abandoned rodent burrows, or around outbuildings. Inside your home, they can be found in dimly lit locations, such as dark corners, closets, or other cluttered areas. They don’t like moisture and prefer dry areas. Yes, you can’t even escape them in your house, as Brown Recluses commonly live inside homes and buildings.”

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Joe Vitiello

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  1. The source material for this article is wildly inaccurate and downright dangerous. There are no records for fatal American Crocodile attacks. As a matter of fact, this critically endangered species is known for being very shy and timid and so rare that encounters outside of the Everglades are virtually unheard of. The villainization of sharks and bears is also unconscionable. Bear attacks in particular occur when stupid people approach bears and cubs or otherwise ignore obvious warning signs. Even Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws”, said he never would have written the novel if he knew then what we now know about sharks, their behavior, and the risk of their being hunted to extinction. The most dangerous animals in America? Insects. People allergic to bee and wasp stings, diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, and ticks (technically arachnids).

    “according to experts” my @$$

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