These animals could lead you into some tricky situation, and if you don’t want a visit to the emergency room, you might want to keep your distance from some of these little cuties – go for a stroke and you could be getting stitches or worse. If you come across any of these adorable critters, bear in mind that nature can be deceiving.
The panda is the poster child for all cute fluffy animals, and it’s hard to imagine a sweeter animal to cuddle up to. A word of advice – don’t. Firstly, pandas are endangered species and can easily catch diseases from humans, and secondly, you don’t want to get the wrong side of an angry panda. They have an incredible amount of muscle beneath that cute black and white fur, and jaws that are made for chewing through bamboo can also chew right through a human arm. Only expert keepers are advised to get close to pandas, and even them are careful.
Kangaroos are a symbol of Australia and no trip to that continent would be complete without seeing them. However, although they look pretty cute standing around in the wild, if you get too close, you may find that things are different. Stories of boxing kangaroos aren’t urban myths, they used to be featured in circuses in crueller times; kangaroos fight with their hands and feet like humans. When you think how strong their legs must be to make those huge bounds across the outback, you know you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a kick from them. Additionally, they have razor-sharp nails to go with their strength. By all means go see them in the wild, but stay in your vehicle to take pictures.
15. Sea otters
Sea otters are amazingly cute, particularly when you see them dozing on their backs in the water, carrying their young on their stomachs or even holding flippers with each other. Don’t be misled though, they are very ready to defend their territory. If you invade their environment, you’ll get treated the same way we would treat animal invaders. Fast swimmers, along with that soft fur and those cute eyes are strong jaws and sharp claws. Sea otters have been known to attack alligators, so give them respect and a wide berth.
14. Red foxes
The red fox can look very much like an elegant and classy dog, and we all love dogs, don’t we? Don’t be misled, although they might look nice, red foxes can bite and their bite can carry rabies. Ask anyone who’s had to experience the long and painful series of injections you need if you’re bitten by an animal with suspected rabies and you’ll definitely steer clear of Mr. Fox. Foxes won’t usually attack adult humans, although they may be aggressive towards small children and pets. Anything small could be dinner, and if they feel you’re interfering with them they will bite in defense. Admire from a distance.
13. Bottlenose dolphins
We all know about how intelligent dolphins are, and we’ve heard the stories of them saving drowning swimmers or scaring off sharks who want to attack humans. You’ve probably seen plenty of photographs of tourists swimming with them quite happily. To an extent this is true, dolphins can be friendly, playful, and enjoy being around humans. However, many tourist destinations have over-exploited dolphins’ good nature, and if too many people get in the water with them they can become agitated and lash out with their tails, fins, or even their bite. It might be best to show respect for dolphins and their environment, and observe them from the safety of a properly run, environmentally conscious tourist boat.
Because of their resemblance to their cousins (us), many people feel a sort of affinity with chimpanzees, particularly with baby ones, whose big brown eyes are seriously heart-melting. However, you really need to think twice before getting close to them, and you certainly want to avoid getting one as a pet. Being so close to humans in the animal kingdom, unfortunately, they are just as violent as humans. They can show great sociability and intelligence, but if scared or upset they can become extremely violent and even kill humans without intending to; an adult male chimpanzee, for example, is strong enough to literally tear off a human arm.
11. Koala bears
All koala bears do is lounge around in trees looking cute, chewing leaves and giving piggybacks to their babies, right? Wrong. Koalas are not naturally aggressive, but if something in their environment makes them feel uncomfortable, they won’t hesitate to get physical – they are actually noted for their lack of patience with human annoyances (it’s been suggested that having a second set of reproductive organs may chemically influence this) and will bite and use their claws if necessary. Wild koalas have on occasion dropped out of trees and attacked humans invading their environment.
10. Two-toed sloths
All sloths are dangerously cute, but the two-toed sloth is also just plain dangerous. While three-toed sloths are generally harmless, the two-toed variety can inflict serious damage. We all know that sloths are extremely lazy creatures, and they’re certainly not going to hunt you down through the jungle, but they are very sleepy, and just like us, they can be pretty bad-tempered if carelessly woken. When this happens, they will often lash out with their huge double claws, and if you get one of those in an artery… well, you just better hope there’s an ER handy. And that you have medical insurance.
9. Red Panda
Red pandas are undeniably gorgeous, a cross between a puppy, a raccoon, and a teddy bear. They’ve got a beautiful coat and it’s certainly tempting to reach out and have a stroke, but these little darlings are actually quite aggressive, and you’re quite likely to get bitten for your trouble.
8. Slow Loris
With their wide eyes and gorgeous fur, you really wouldn’t think that a slow glorious deserves its place on this list of dangerous animals. In appearance, they are soft and gentle, and their hangdog expression calls for cuddles, not caution. However, if a slow loris feels threatened, they lick a gland in their elbow that produces a powerful venom, which will be transferred to the victim via biting. This venom is strong enough to cause fatal anaphylactic shock in humans.
The fact that Marvel named a superhero after these critters probably tells you all you need to know about them. They might look like adorable miniature bears, but they can be up to 60 pounds in weight and take on other creatures four times as big as them. Wolverines have terrifyingly sharp claws and can easily outstrip a human runner; when they catch up with you, up against those claws and teeth you will be in serious, serious trouble.
6. Leopard Seals
Sometimes known as the “dogs of the sea”, leopard seals can be very enticing with their big eyes and almost human smile. You should certainly think of avoiding seeing them in animal parks, as it is cruel to keep them in captivity, but you should also stay well away in the wild. Leopard seals are very efficient hunters and have been known to grab hold of human swimmers and pull them down in an attempt to drown them. They also belie their cuteness by enjoying toying with prey before killing them, which makes them a bit less sweet than they might appear.
Hedgehogs are the cutest of the cute, right? Sweet little snufflers that do nobody any harm. Not quite. While Mrs. Tiggywinkle isn’t going to launch a vicious attack against you, if you try handling a hedgehog without gloves, you may well get pricked by the quills that cover their whole body. These quills carry a multitude of harmful bacteria, and once they are in your bloodstream you’re well on your way to your hospital bed.
4. Prairie Dogs
You might think you are a dog lover, but we’re telling you, don’t go and love these dogs. Like domestic dogs, they are highly intelligent and sociable, but only with each other, not with humans. Prairie dogs have a lot of enemies in the wild, so they’ve developed a defense mechanism of attack first, ask questions later. You might think, given their small size, a bite might be painful but hardly life-changing; think again, prairie dogs can carry the bubonic plague.
One of the strangest animals on earth, the platypus or ornithorynque is one of only two types of monotreme, mammals that lay eggs. In appearance a platypus (often called the duck-billed platypus) looks like a cartoon cross between a beaver and a duck, so you might be tempted to approach for a closer look. However, you might find out that as well as being unique in its egg-laying qualities, the platypus is also one of a very small number of poisonous mammals; males have special spurs on their hind legs from which they can spray a highly toxic venom, strong enough to kill anything up to the size of a dog, and that can cause excruciating pain and swelling that can be incapacitating for days in humans.
The most impressive builder in the animal kingdom, beavers do look extremely cute as they go about their business with their sweet little mouths and enormous paddle tails. However, you should think for a moment about how beavers managed to do such amazing work with trees: basically, they cut them down with their teeth. Beavers are not particularly aggressive animals, but if you put yourself in a position where they think you are a danger to themselves or their young, you might find yourself on the receiving end of those teeth.
Dingoes are wild dogs native to Australia, and they look close enough to domesticated dogs to tempt the unwary into making friends. Resist temptation; dingoes are not only carriers of numerous nasty diseases, but they are also pretty savage. They like to gather in packs for company and for hunting, and although confirmed attacks on humans are few and far between, it’s thought that they are not averse to human prey. Many a shipwrecked sailor or escaped convict in Australia has disappeared in areas known to be inhabited by dingoes, and later all that was found of them were their bones…