Australia’s Most Dangerous Animals: a Decade of Death

Is it the kangaroo

Is it the kangaroo?

In today’s post I am going to reveal Australia’s most deadly animal, the critter responsible for the most human deaths year by year here in Australia.

Before I name the beast, you might like to try and guess who the culprit is. You won’t be the first to try, the following question was asked to the panel on a popular UK TV show called QI.

QI, by the way, stands for Quite Interesting. Isn’t that interesting?

Anyway, the panel were asked by host Stephen Fry, “Which Australian animal is the most dangerous?

National Coroners Information System (NCIS)

The quiz show was basing this question on information they had gleaned from NCIS. I have managed to find one of their more comprehensive reports, this one summarises all deaths caused by animals in Australia between first of July 2000 and November 2010.

Here are the findings from a decade of deaths in Australia at the hands, or paws, or jaws, or hooves, or whatever from the animals that have claimed human lives here in Australia during the last decade.

Animal related deaths in Australia:

During the 10 year period in question there were 254 deaths in Australia identified as animal related. Let’s see who is responsible, starting with the biggest culprits:

  • Horse, pony or donkey – 77 deaths
  • Cow, bull or bovine – 33 deaths
  • Dog – 27 deaths
  • Kangaroo – 18 deaths
  • Bee – 16 deaths
  • Shark – 16 deaths
  • Snake – 14 deaths
  • Crocodile – 9 deaths
  • Ostrich or emu – 5 deaths
  • Others, including fish, sheep, goats, camels, cats and jellyfish – 39 deaths

The actual cause of these fatalities varies with top of the list being falling off a horse, pony or donkey, followed by being crushed or trampled by one. These creatures along with cows, bulls, kangaroos, ostriches, emus and bovine animals were also responsible for a good number of motor vehicle accident fatalities between them, over 50 in all.

Deaths caused by dogs were mainly by bite, although three people died due to motor vehicle accidents caused by dogs and nine people simply fell over a dog. One person during the decade fell over a cat and died, as was mentioned in the video.

Death by bee was always as a result of anaphylactic shock.

I don’t think you need me to tell you how sharks, snakes and crocodiles claimed their human lives, but here’s a clue. None of them involved motor vehicle accidents.

Which states are most dangerous? Here’s a list:

  • QLD 63
  • VIC 52
  • NSW 46
  • WA 35
  • SA  24
  • NT   24
  • TAS  8
  • ACT  2


Ah, excellent, the state I live in is top of the list.

So there you have it; Australia’s most dangerous creature is a horse. But then again, if you’re a regular reader here at Bobinoz, you’ll already know that from my post Australian Snakes and Death: Continued and my page Australia’s Killer Creatures and Death.

When I researched the subject at that time, my findings suggested that it was nearer 20 horse deaths a year and 10 by bee sting, these figures from last decade show much lower numbers than that.

So that’s good news then; horses and bees aren’t as bad as all that.

Source: NCIS

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Dan Hope November 18, 2018, 6:47 am |

    Hi buddy. There is a few common mistake people make when assessing the “real” danger of deaths by animals in aus. The reason we dont lose 60+ a year people to snakes alone is because of antivenom, same with most of our venomous stuff. There is no antivenom for failing of a horse and thumping your head on a rock. For a lot of these stats there is no “magic wand” cure like antivenom. Also, to my limited knowledge, a lot of those bovine, equine, kangaroo etc deaths also include car accident related fatalities, which in my humble opinion, doesn’t count. I dont think falling from a horse counts either. Horse kick related deaths do count. If i run from a brown snake and fall of a cliff is it a snake death of falling death?

    Also, you didn’t bring up bear attacks in the usa, but an interesting point is they loose about as many to bears as we do to snakes (2 a year, which would be 60+ a year to snakes but for antivenom). AND thats no controlling for their 15 times bigger population which make their bears look like teaddybears.

    • BobinOz November 19, 2018, 5:49 pm |

      You make some very interesting points, I am in full agreement. I think if anyone loses their life being trampled over by a stampeding herd of horses, or any kind of animal running and charging, that is an animal related death.

      Falling off a horse though, I think that’s part of the danger of getting on it in the first place and I’m pretty sure all horseriders know the risks. There are no numbers for how many cars veered off the road fatally because a huntsman spider the size of a dinner plate fell onto the driver’s lap, but I wouldn’t class that as a spider related death.

      And no doubt about it, I’d rather have to deal with a snakebite than fight off a bear, which is lucky, because we don’t have those here, thankfully.

      • Dan Hope November 19, 2018, 5:54 pm |

        Thanks for your reply. I agree about the bears though. Im glad we dont have them either

    • Dan Hope November 19, 2018, 5:50 pm |

      Also, another reason those bovine, equine stats are bs (other than the car accident inclusion nonsense) is there are vastly, vastly (vastly…vastly) more people working and driving around horses and cows than, say, interact with crocks. So, once again, when people use this type of data to then say “hahaha so much for aussie crocks being a threat!!” it is, to some degree at least, misunderstanding the data.

  • Gozi Tojivo September 3, 2016, 8:50 am |

    Where do humans place on the list?

    • BobinOz September 4, 2016, 8:51 pm |

      Well, they would be top, they are the most dangerous critters not just in Australia, but the whole world. 🙂

  • Ronny May 7, 2015, 8:03 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    I would like to highlight the fact that reported to (human) population, the most dangerous state (for animal related death) is not QLD, but NT…almost 100 deaths for 1 million inhabitants.
    QLD, SA, TA and WA stand close to each other with something like 15 deaths for 1 million inhabitants. And the “safer” state would be …ACT !!

    New South Wales 6,18
    Victoria 9,01
    Queensland 13,47
    Western Australia 13,8
    South Australia 14,33
    Tasmania 15,58
    Australian Capital Territory 5,22
    Northern Territory 99,26

    My statistics would likely reflect the rural vocation of each state….

    • BobinOz May 8, 2015, 9:07 pm |

      Interesting statistics Ronny, where did you get them?

      Anyway, I can see where you’re coming from, but my table is simply based on numbers of deaths in that 10 year period, it is not in any way related to the size of the population.

      With, roughly speaking, around 5 million people living in Queensland and something like a quarter of a million people living in NT, we can see that we would need to multiply Northern Territory’s death total by 20 in order to assess it against that of Queensland.

      By doing so, it would clearly put NT in the lead, by a very very long way.

      So yes, it is our most dangerous place when we look at it like this, and in truth, this is really how we should look at it.

      Makes me feel a little bit safer, living here in Queensland 🙂

      Thanks for the info, very interesting. Cheers, Bob

  • Eli February 22, 2014, 2:26 pm |

    Is safe to swim in or surf in Australia’s water?

    • BobinOz February 24, 2014, 12:43 pm |

      No waters are entirely safe anywhere, people do drown. Northern waters of Australia are not so safe, southern waters are much safer, but there are occasional shark attacks.

  • Anthony December 14, 2013, 7:42 pm |

    G’day BinO,
    Snakes are scary critters to a lot of people. Sometimes hard facts just don’t “bite”.
    Do you have any statistics, not about the number of snakebite related deaths, but the number of snakebite survivors?


    • BobinOz December 16, 2013, 3:33 pm |

      Yes, I’ve been told it’s about 1200 people per year who are bitten by snakes.

  • obi August 30, 2013, 10:44 am |

    Hi Bob,

    Did they just count the number of deaths as it is or did they employ a ratio by population?

    • BobinOz August 30, 2013, 5:51 pm |

      These are actual deaths that were recorded by coroner’s around the country, so it’s completely accurate.

  • dennis August 6, 2013, 7:33 am |

    What an entertaining blog. I tripped into it searching for spider bite information.

    How unnerving, having two old lumpy dogs to trip over that I would have been so much safer to have a cat! 9 to 1: so with a cat I’d get nine lives, just like that.

    Actually your blog is not only entertaining but also sets standards for positive information!

    I don’t live in one of the cities you’ve been discussing but in the town of Nowra, south of Sydney. Thirty thousand people. Fascinating to consider this is about the population of Florence at the height of the Renaissance and wonder what the di difference is.

    • BobinOz August 6, 2013, 1:13 pm |

      Very pleased to hear you find my blog entertaining Dennis, thanks for your comments.

      Interesting too that yes, cats do seem to give us nine lives compared with dogs, how about that?

      I’ve driven through your town, then we bought petrol in the wonderfully named town Ulladulla and we stayed at Bateman’s Bay; very nice part of the country.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Joyce May 19, 2013, 9:51 pm |

    The guy with the longer black hair used to live in Australia for a while and did a marvellous skit on Australia’s wildlife. it’s hilarious!



    • BobinOz May 20, 2013, 8:53 pm |

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more Joyce, very funny indeed. This guy toured Australia and I wrote a post about it featuring the exact same video, see The Most Dangerous Animal in Australia.



      • Joyce May 20, 2013, 11:20 pm |

        Hah! Don’t i feel silly now, i hadn’t even seen that post.

        It’s still surprising to see, especially for an aussie-to-be, that the animal to have caused the most death’s in Australia isn’t a snake or spider, but a horse.
        I’m always watching my steps looking for snakes and spiders and even get my heart jumped to my throat when i foolishly mistook our garden hose for a brown snake; seems i need to be more wary of the 5 horses in our paddock, hah.


        • BobinOz May 21, 2013, 2:22 pm |

          No need to feel silly Joyce, with over 900 pages, not too many people have read them all.

          But mistaking your garden hose for a snake? That’s funny 🙂 Yes, watch out for those horses!

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