With millions of years of evolution under our belts (and some trial and error), it’s safe to say that we have learned what kinds of animals are and aren’t dangerous; essentially, if it’s either a really big cat or something with scales that hisses and has fangs, we run like hell. But maybe in our complacency we never bothered to check the Post-It memo Mother Nature stuck to the fridge on her way out. You know, the one with that list of other animals that at first glance look innocuous, but are actually quite deadly. Confused? No worries, check out our list of six animals that you had no idea could be dangerous!
1) The Platypus
Well if isn’t God’s little mistake, the platypus! Right now you’re wondering how can an animal that looks like a duck boinked a beaver pose any threat to a person. Little known fact: all platypuses (platypi?) have hidden, sharp ankle spurs, but it’s the males that pack some pretty wicked venom – they’re like the assassins of Eastern Australia. While it’s not potent enough to kill a human, you’ll be in the worst kind of pain in your life, and if that’s not enough, you’ll also come down with hyperalgesia – a condition in which the body becomes more sensitive to pain. So unless you want to wither in agony in the mud like a total spazz, hold off on cuddling that ‘pus.
Think this bird that looks like a giant turkey poses any threat to mankind? Well, you’d find out the moment it leaps into the air, eviscerating you like a latter-day velociraptor with its claws! By nature, the cassowary is known to be a shy and solitary animal, staying away from human contact whenever possible… until some jackass gets the bright idea to invade its turf; that’s when the gloves come off and the cassowary starts its kickboxing routine! And don’t think you’re slick by running away either – cassowaries are tenacious and will hunt you down, resuming the beating it started the moment you trip and fall! To date, there has only been one fatality from a cassowary attack, in 1926 when a 16-year-old boy attempted – for kicks – to beat a cassowary to death, which resulted in him taking a fatal blow to the neck.
After reading about the cassowary and platypus, I’m guessing that a trip to Australia is out of the question, huh? Sorry there, mate.
Polly want a cracker? Polly wants that wallet in your pocket – the fat one with all those shiny platinum credit cards and drivers license! Where most birds are wary of people, the kea is the complete opposite and will fly down to unsuspecting residents and tourists of New Zealand alone or, even worse, in a gang! I mean, they start out cute enough: biting at your shoelaces and taking food from your hand, but the real fun begins when they start calling dibs on the stuff in your backpack or pulling the rubber lining off your car’s windshield. While they’re naturally inquisitive, it seems they have an inexplicable affinity for wreaking havoc on your more irreplaceable items.
Even though they have achieved considerable notoriety for being no good punks, keas are also accomplished problem solvers, as this unsettling video demonstrates:
It’s only a matter of time before they put two and two together and realize that the jingly keys it purloined from your bag make that four-wheeled machine in the parking lot go. Next, it’s a trip into town to knock off a few liquor stores!
Oh, and they ravaged livestock throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. No big deal, right?
4) Slow Loris
The slow loris, like the platypus, was another mammal that was waiting in line with reptiles when Mother Nature was handing out poison. Every slow loris, whether they be male or female, has a brachial gland located on their arm that secretes an odd substance, which, on its own, isn’t harmful. But when it is mixed with the slow loris’ own saliva it creates a toxin that proves deadly to small predators looking to make a meal of the slow loris or its young. This toxin isn’t fatal to humans, but it can create a skin affliction similar to an allergic reaction: itchy red blotches. However, only one person has died from the toxins of nature’s mad chemist due to an anaphylactic attack… or so the slow loris wants you to think.
5) Giant Catfish
Let’s be honest, the only catfish you ever saw were either on TV at the end of some hillbilly’s chum-covered arm or deep-fried with a side of hushpuppies at a Long John Silver’s, meaning you’re familiar with the smaller variety. But unless you don’t watch River Monsters, catfish can get pretty damn huge – big enough to swallow someone whole! To date, two species of giant catfish are reported to be man-eaters: the wels catfish (above) in Europe and the goonch catfish in Asia.
Historical accounts have depicted the wels catfish as a lake predator since medieval times with many stories recalling how it swallowed small children whole, never to be seen again. Even though attacks like these haven’t occurred in modern times, that’s not to say swimmers in Germany’s Berlin Lake haven’t been bitten at some point. Marine zoologists claim they get a bit snippy due to swimmers invading their territory, but once they see a pair of shredded OshKosh B’Gosh lederhosen wash up on the shore of the lake they might just have to reevaluate that conclusion. Now let’s check out the goonch!
The unsettling thing about the goonch is that it was never a man-eater to begin with – outside factors made it develop a taste for succulent human meat. Natives along the Kali River – along the border of India and Nepal – traditionally send a burning funeral pyre out into the water, which would eventually sink to the bottom where the goonch feeds. Because of these pyres, the goonch catfish – like sick, demented ghouls – would feed on the charred remains and, over time, realized those chubby legs kicking in the water are actually pretty tasty. There have been numerous incidents of death by goonch in the Kali River, with many of the pious natives chalking it up as the will of the gods.
6) Blue-Ringed Octopus
Like the platypus and cassowary before it, here’s another animal from Australia that will lay you down to a nice dirt nap if provoked: the blue-ringed octopus. But we’re smart enough to know that if an animal has wild colors, more often than not it’s poisonous, just ask the poison-arrow frog. But here’s the kicker: their bites are tiny to the point of being unnoticeably painless, so you won’t even know the octopus’ venom is already coursing through your veins. With your luck, the venom will start to kick in as you’re hittin’ up that cute Aussie honey on the volleyball court. That’s when you’ll start to go through hypoventilation and collapse on the sand convulsing. Congratulations, you’ve just been royally cock-blocked – and possibly murdered – by an octopus!
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