You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox


Australia undeniably boasts the most venomous and deadliest creatures on Earth. We have an assortment of brown snakes, red-bellied black snakes, funnel-web spiders, box jellyfish, great white sharks and crocodiles to name but a few.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that Australia’s most dangerous animal – that is, the animal responsible for the most human deaths – is none of the above.

Here we look at the most dangerous animals by fatalities:

Bee

While certainly not the most feared animal in Australia, the humble bee makes the list as a top-five contender.

According to National Coronial Information System (NCIS) data, bees were the direct cause of 16 deaths between 2000 and 2010, and affected mostly mature-aged people between 40 and 59. Deaths were primarily related to victims suffering anaphylactic shock due to an existing allergy.

It goes to show, allergies have to be taken seriously. Keep that EpiPen close by if you’re tending to the rose bush. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy has some excellent advice on minimising the risk to you or your children here.

Kangaroo

Hold up, Skippy! This Australian icon is known for its boxing instincts – but in fact this ‘punching’ with the front legs is reasonably harmless. Its the powerful hind legs with long sharp claws that can be damaging to humans if the kangaroo feels threatened or cornered.

Kangaroos directly caused 18 deaths in the decade to 2010. And this excludes the number of driver-related road deaths caused by kangaroos on our roads. If these were included in the NCIS data, it’s likely they’d feature much higher on the list.

Dog

We all know someone who owns one, and there may even be one in your backyard. Nevertheless, pooches were responsible for the deaths of 27 Australians from 2000 to 2010.

Male victims were twice as likely to be killed compared to females, based on NCIS data. Quite sadly, most victims are children and the elderly.

Owners of dangerous dogs have a series of obligations to make sure that members of the public are not attacked with penalties for noncompliance. In Victoria, owners can be jailed for up to 10 years if their dog kills someone, or for up to five years if their dog endangers someone's life.

Cows and bulls

These gentle giants are often the butt of practical jokes and tall tales involving tipping as they sleep on their four feet. But don’t anger a cow or you might just get trampled. In fact, cows and bulls accounted for the second-highest rate of Australian deaths. In the decade to 2010, 33 people were directly killed by a cow, bull or bovine.

So if you’re working out in the fields, be nice to Bessie, and take that ladder off her head.

And the number one killer in Australia? The humble horse

You might have guessed it by now, but yes, horses, ponies and donkeys cause the most animal-related deaths in Australia.

In the decade to 2010, a whopping 77 lives were taken by these beautiful and mostly gentle creatures.

Most deaths occurred in the 20-39 age bracket, followed by those aged 40-59. Males were also more commonly victims than females. This statistic might reflect the demographic of many rural farm workers.

What can you do about it?

While accidents can happen, there are legal ramifications for owners of livestock and pets who negligently allow their animals to roam, trespass and attack others – whether intentionally or not.

All occupiers owe a duty of care to others on their premises, as well as a duty to maintain control of their pet while away from their premises. This extends to taking reasonable steps to prevent an animal under a person’s control from causing harm. Simple steps like keeping your dog on a leash or locking pets safely away from visitors can save you thousands of dollars in a lawsuit for negligence, nuisance or cattle trespass.

Also be mindful that there are severe criminal penalties for the keeping of dangerous animals in breach of statutory requirements. It is also an offence to train a dog to ‘attack’ someone, or set them on attack. But be aware that animal owners have a defence of contributory negligence where a person deliberately puts themselves in harm's way. A person assaulting an animal to the point that it reacts in self-defence would be one example.

Next time you’re worried about what’s potentially lurking outside, remind yourself that you’d sooner be killed by an animal in your own backyard. Put your worries away and enjoy Australia's creatures big and small.

For more information, contact us today.

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

Related blog posts

Compensation Law
I’ve been injured at a public park, what should I do?

Public parks, playgrounds and sporting ovals are an essential part of a community, they’re often where people come together, exercise and importantly they’re also a place where young kids have fun. But these spaces also need to be regularly maintained to ensure that they’re safe for the community to use, otherwise injuries can occur. Local councils are responsible for the maintenance of public spaces such as local parks, playgrounds and sporting ovals. Local councils have a duty to keep people safe while on council property, by making sure that these spaces are regularly maintained and safe for use. But sometimes they may fail in their duty, if that happens and you’ve been injured...

Public Park image
Compensation Law
What to do if you’ve been injured while shopping

Shopping, it’s something we all do. Some of us like to use it as retail therapy, others use it as a social activity, while some people just love the hunt for a bargain. Regardless of how you like to go shopping, we all expect that when we do, it’ll be safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case and sometimes unexpected injuries can happen because not enough care was taken to ensure a safe environment. If you’ve been injured in a store because they failed to take reasonable steps to provide a safe space, then you may have a Public Liability claim. This is because individuals, businesses and organisations have a duty of care to ensure that they provide people with a safe...

Caution sign at supermarket
Compensation Law
A work injury can affect you more than just physically

Work is an integral part of the daily lives for many of us, and when we go into work each day we fully expect to then return home without incident. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as according to WorkSafe Victoria 27,925 new workplace injury claims were received last year*. Sadly, despite improved work health and safety practices, workplace injuries can still happen. Many people who’ve gone through a workplace accident, injury or illness have often noted how it turned their lives upside down, often leading to feelings of distress emotionally, physically or financially. Slater and Gordon National Manager of Social Work Services, Olga Gountras explains “nobody goes to work...

Shutterstock 2051360975

We're here to help

Start your online claim check now. Or, if you have a question, get in touch with our team.