Cute killers: Beware of these unexpectedly dangerous animals

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Children’s stories are full of friendly animal characters: Dumbo, Skippy the Kangaroo and Flipper the Dolphin to name a few. But what happens when these amicable animals get out of the wrong side of the bed…


With their cute ears and comical face, it’s easy to assume this river-dwelling mammal is a friendly beast. However, hippos are aggressive and extremely unpredictable, killing more humans each year in Africa than lions. They have been known to chase and capsize boats and even kill animals such as impalas and crocodiles!


Young male elephants and older bulls will terrorise villages and have been responsible for thousands of human deaths. Rampaging males use their immense size to disastrous effect, trampling their victims or goring them in the chest. Historically, trained Asian elephants were once used by royalty to execute criminals.


They seem an unlikely aggressor, but beavers have been known to attack kayakers, swimmers and hikers – in one case even killing a fisherman in Belarus by lacerating an artery in his leg. Rabid beavers have attacked swimmers in lakes and rivers in several US states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia and Oregon, causing serious injuries.



These marine mammals are easy to love with their wide grins and reported tales of them helping humans in trouble at sea. But be warned – they have also been documenting pummelling infant porpoises to death and in some cases showing aggressive behaviour to nearby swimmers.


This intelligent African primate can become aggressive when threatened. In one recent case in Africa they tore a young girl from her mother’s back, wounding her. In 2009. a chimpanzee born in captivity in the US and kept as a pet inflicted horrific injuries on a female friend of its owner in a sudden attack.


The brightly coloured golden poison frog, found in Colombia, has enough toxin on its skin on average to kill 10-20 men or about 10,000 mice. The poison, which can cause heart failure, is used by the frog as a self-defence mechanism to avoid predators.


These adorable balls of fluff have been known to cause havoc, with one grey squirrel in California dropping from a tree onto a man’s head while he was gardening, later entering a school and attacking a pupil and a teacher, and also attacking an elderly man in his garage. Grey squirrels in the UK have also been reported to have attacked humans.


These furry marsupials have been known to inflict serious injuries, particularly when the growth of residential areas brings them into close proximity with people. With their sharp claws and powerful hind legs, they have even been documented holding dogs underwater in dams.


Cape buffalo

While they might just look like a cow with horns, this large African beast is extremely dangerous and has killed hundreds of humans by charging and goring them. They reportedly have a good memory too – even ambushing hunters who have wounded them in the past.


This cuddly Australian monotreme is not as innocent as it looks – male platypuses are equipped with ankle spurs which can deliver venom as a form of defence. While not powerful enough to kill humans, the platypuses’ venom can kill dogs and cause excruciating pain in humans.


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