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Top 10 Horrible Ways Animals Can Kill You

Teeuwynn has a fascination with unusual wildlife of all kinds.

The African Driver Ant is an insect, but make no mistake: It's definitely high on the list of worst animal to be killed by.

The African Driver Ant is an insect, but make no mistake: It's definitely high on the list of worst animal to be killed by.

The 10 Most Painful Animal Deaths

Our world is a wild and wonderful one and we love our animals, but some creatures have found truly horrible ways to torture and kill us. Take a look at these ten different animals that can bring you to a miserable end. If you had to pick, which way would you want to go?

1. Hippopotamus

Many people think of hippos as slow, soft creatures—cows of the water. But those people would think wrong. Hippos are extremely territorial and very aware of their personal space. Most experts and guides consider hippopotami the most dangerous animals in Africa.

Hippopotami tend to kill people in one of two ways. In in one scenario, humans make the foolish decision to walk along a path that leads to a watering hole where a hippo lives. Unfortunately, the humans find out they are between the hippo and her watery home when the 3,300 pound animal charges over them at alarming speed, grinding them down with enormous hooves and tons of weight, and slashing at them with her two-foot long teeth, each the width of a can of soda.

The second way an unfortunate human might die from a hippo might be even worse. Here, the humans are in a small boat going along the water. If the hippo thinks the boat is acting aggressively, he may attack, swimming swiftly up from below and using his enormous mass to toss the boat over, while using his enormous maw to bite down on people and boat alike.

The hippo will try to cut its human victims in half with its massive mouth and teeth. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

2. The African Driver Ant

African Driver ants live in central and east Africa, although some live in southern Africa and tropical Asia. Each colony can have over 20 thousand ants in it.

This ant isn't too dangerous if you can stay on the move. But if you're asleep, drunk or immobilized the ants will swarm in a Siafu attack and devour you. Not only do they bite and sting, the ants make their way to any open orifice and crawl into your lungs, suffocating you, which makes for a particularly nightmarish death.

3. Freshwater Snails

Although most people would be surprised to hear it, freshwater snails are some of the most deadliest creatures on the planet. When a person enters water with these freshwater snails in it, parasites from the snails move through the water and enter the person's flesh.

Once the parasites get in the bloodstream, they travel up to the blood vessels where they can stay for years. But it's not these parasitic worms that can kill you, it's their eggs.

It can actually take years before the worms turn into eggs, but once they become worms they develop sharp prongs, which they use to crawl through the body to make their way towards exits. Once the worms become snails, they need to be able to exit the body for the next stage in the life cycle.

Meanwhile, these pronged eggs can get lodged in organs and cause a variety of symptoms from anemia and great fatigue, all the way to a lingering death.

Freshwater Snail

Freshwater Snail

4. Blue-Ringed Octopus

This tiny (5-8 inch) octopus is mostly yellow, with blue or black circular suckers. The octopus grows much brighter in color when alarmed. Frankly, this little creature looks more like something that comes out of your kid’s Pokémon set than something that could kill you, but if you think that, you’d be wrong.

The blue-ringed octopus is one of the most venomous creatures in the world. If it poisons you, you will die in about 15 minutes. Its venom is a powerful neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. The first signs people feel from the poison are their faces going numb and their mouths and tongues going dry.

Within minutes, the victim’s body becomes paralyzed and they lose the ability to talk. If the victim even knows what has happened to him, he had better have already told someone because he won’t be able to talk anymore. After about 15 minutes, the breathing muscles also become paralyzed and consciousness falls. Asphyxia and death follows shortly. There is no known anti-venom.

5. Tsetse Fly

This dangerous little insect is often considered the world’s most dangerous fly. It lives in sub-Saharan countries. Like the also extraordinarly dangerous mosquito, the Tstese fly sucks blood from animals and humans it lands on. What’s really scary is that while doing so, it can inject the microscopic pathogen known as Trypanosomes.

Trypanosomes cause African sleeping sickness, a terrible illness causing neurological and meningoencephalitic symptoms. These include poor coordination, sleeping problems, and behavioral changes caused by inflammation in the brain. The victim’s initial conditions often include flu-like symptoms with the bite sufferer growing increasingly exhausted, thus the name African sleeping sickness.

These conditions will often lead to death if not treated soon enough. In the meantime, the victim of the Tsetse fly becomes increasingly confused and tired.

We have no vaccines or other preventative medications for this condition. The best people can do is try to sleep with mosquito netting, wear neutral-colored clothes (because the fly likes bright colors), and avoid going into the bushes during the daytime.

Tstese fly

Tstese fly

6. Stung to Death by Bees

Bees are helpful creatures that keep flowers pollinated and are critical for our environmental health, but that won’t help someone attacked by a huge swarm of the creatures. If a human stumbles too close to a nearby nest and is stung by a few bees right near their hive, those bees can send out pheromones that tell other bees to come and attract the intruder.

More and more bees can come out to attack the human who stumbled upon their home, intent on protecting the queen. They will attempt to sting every part of the body they can reach, but the bees most often attack a person’s head and neck. At this point, a victim may find it hard to breathe without swallowing some bees that sting the inside of the throat.

Assuming the victim is not allergic to bee stings, it usually takes between 500 and 1200 bee stings to put a person in danger of dying by bee sting. Medical care can save victims, but they need to get it quickly. In the meantime, victims will start to vomit and suffer from incontinence and diarrhea.

Even after receiving medical treatment, some people die a few days later due to the accumulated venom left in their system attacking muscle tissue and dissolving blood cells. This can cause debris to build up in their system causing renal failure and leading to death a few days later.

Bees waiting to protect their queen.

Bees waiting to protect their queen.

7. The Crocodile

This relative of the less aggressive alligator, is a very wily creature. Crocodiles are extraordinarily agile and smart. There’s a reason they have been on this planet for over 200 million years. Crocodiles have the perfect colouration to camouflage in the water. They can grow up to 21 feet long and have up to 66 teeth.

Unlike many large predators, crocodiles don’t go after a swift kill when they hunt their victims. Instead, crocodiles lurk just under the water near the edges of rivers and lakes, waiting for animals or people to come close to them. But if the crocodile is hungry enough, its prey doesn’t have to come too close.

Crocodiles have a massive vertical leap out of the water and they can go 30 feet out of the water toward their victim in their first foray. So, you can imagine someone who goes to get water or is sunbathing nearby doesn’t have much of a chance against one of these hungry creatures.

A crocodile will grab its victim by an arm or leg, twisting and turning while it pulls its prey back into the water. Crocodiles can’t chew, so they just hold on tight to their prey. When underwater, the crocodile continues to roll its victim around, while holding one of their limbs in a vise-like grip. The victim will usually suffocate and the crocodile will store the meat underwater for a later meal.

Some people do escape crocodile attacks, but they are often missing a limb after such a close encounter.

8. Box Jellyfish

This species of jellyfish lives in the waters in the Indo-Pacific north of Australia. Like many jellyfish, these creatures are nearly invisible because of their transparent appearance. They float along in the waters, using their dangling, poisonous tentacles to trap food—and sometimes kill humans.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers the box jellyfish the most venomous marine animal in the world, so you know you don’t want anything to do with it. The jellyfish gets its name from the ten tentacles hanging from the corners of its boxy frame. Each tentacle is up to ten feet long and covered in nemocysts, stinging cells that contain a terrible toxin that attacks the nervous system, skin cells, and heart all at once.

This venom is fast acting, so even though we do have an anti-venom for it, victims of the stingers often don’t even make it to shore, let alone to a hospital where they can receive treatment. Hundreds of people die each year either because the shock of the neurological attack is too much for them to make it to shore or they suffer a heart attack shortly before or after making it back.

Even for those people who survive a box jellyfish’s attack, they can experience serious pain for weeks and suffer nasty scars from the lashings of the tentacles.

Box Jellyfish

Box Jellyfish

9. Tapeworms in the Brain

When people think of tapeworms, they usually think of a disgusting worm sucking off of a person’s intestines or stomach lining. However, before tapeworms become actual worms, they start their lives off as cyst-like creatures. The cysts can get lost and lodge in their victim’s brains causing a disease caused neurocysticercosis.

When tapeworm cysts begin to grow they can push out on different parts of the brain causing it to malfunction. It can cause hydrocephalous (water on the brain), which leads to dangerously high blood pressure. This can lead to a brain hernia, and from there, coma and even death.

Even if the tapeworm cysts wither and die in the brain they can keep causing problems for years. The victim’s brain attacks the cysts, but in so doing it can cause surrounding brain tissue to swell in irritation. Although scientists don’t know why, even these dead cysts can cause waves of brain swelling attacks for years to come. If the cysts are too near delicate areas in the brain, this swelling can cause violent convulsions and comas.

Dr. Theodore Nash of the National Institutes of Health believes there may be upwards of 2,000 Americans with this condition. Worldwide, “Minimally, there are five million cases of epilepsy from neurocysticercosis,” Nash says.

A Tapeworm cyst in the brain

A Tapeworm cyst in the brain

10. Face Ripped Off by Sloth Bear

The sloth bear is an ancient relative of the brown bear that lives on the Indian subcontinent. They have large, sickle-shaped claws that can do a tremendous amount of damage very quickly.

Sloth bears treat humans as predators, which makes sense since we have taken away most of their territory over the years as well as killing their population. Sloth bears are aggressive and known to attack humans.

When sloth bears do attack, they go for their victim’s face and head, slashing with those sickle-shaped claws. The bears often don’t kill their victims outright, instead horribly disfiguring their faces and then sucking and chewing at their limbs until the body is eventually, agonizingly reduced to mush.

Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear

Poll: What Would You Pick?


Condé Nast Traveler, "The 10 Most Dangerous Animals in the World," by Daniel Jameson.

Science Alert, "These are the Top 15 Deadliest Animals on Earth," by Lydia Ramsey

Planet Deadly, "Most Dangerous Animals in Asia,"

Outside, "The 10 Worst Ways to Die in the Wild,"

© 2018 Teeuwynn Woodruff


jonathansfastestcars on August 19, 2020:

I wanted to have a box jellyfish as a pet, so thanks a lot for the warning.

Cathy on July 29, 2018:

I don't like insects so when I saw the tapeworm on the brain I screamed. My mom asked me what happened and I showed her the photo... Anyways thanks for warning me because I like to be in the wild. Thanks a lot!!