Australia’s Killer Creatures and Death

How many people die?

Yes, Australia is an extremely scary place, isn’t it, how can you possibly expect to survive? Well, so far I have and I’ve been here since 2007! Not bad eh?

grizzly bearSeriously, I know we’ve got snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles, killer jellyfish and a whole host of other venomous critters, but look on the bright side. At least we don’t get lions, tigers, elephants, grizzly bears or hippopotamus.

Now let’s really get serious. Fear of Australia’s creatures shouldn’t even be a consideration. Let’s look at the facts, as at 2011 when I created this page:

  • Snakes: With 41 recorded deaths between 1980 and 2009, snake deaths in Australia average out at less than two per year.
  • Spiders: Nobody in Australia has died from a spider bite since 1979 after the successful introduction of antivenom for all native species. Update: In 2016, Jayden Burleigh was widely reported in the media as having died following a redback spider bite. A severe abscess had formed under his left arm affecting his glands. He was treated in hospital and released after four days with a course of antibiotics; he died two days later. A further complication was he was involved in a car accident a few weeks earlier and had only just recovered from his injuries. An official cause of death has never been recorded, as far as I’m aware. More from The Guardian.
  • Sharks*: Accounted for 25 deaths between 2000 and (March) 2012 in Australia, about 2 a year.
  • Crocodiles: Historically, crocodiles account for less than one death per year here in Australia, although that is increasing slightly as the crocodile population rises following the ban on crocodile hunting in 1971.
  • Blue Ringed Octopus: Just 3 recorded deaths in the last century.
  • Stonefish: One unconfirmed death by stonefish in 1915.
  • Cone Snails: I could find no recorded deaths from cone snails in Australia whatsoever. Update: I stand corrected here. If you check the comments below, on December 22, 2016 K.Glasheen describes how Charles Garbutt, in 1935, died after being stung by a cone snail. I did find confirmation of this online, so we need to amend the figures for this critter; let’s call it one death in about 100 years.
  • Killer Jellyfish: Jellyfish account for (at time of writing) 66 deaths since records began in 1883. The box jellyfish was responsible for 64 deaths, and the Irukandji the other two. It sounds a lot, but still less than one death per year, more like just half a death per year.

* Updated 5.4.12. with latest shark death figures.

There, I think I’ve covered them all. Equalising it out, Australia’s dangerous creatures kill about five people a year.

If I’ve missed anything out, got anything wrong, or if anyone has an update on these figures, please do comment below.

Australia’s worst killers!

  • Here in Australia, about 20 people a year die from horse riding accidents.
  • Around 10 people per year in Australia die from European Honey Bee stings after going into anaphylactic shock.
  • And around 300 people a year drown.

So the best advice I would give anyone about staying safe in Australia would be nothing to do with avoiding scary creatures. It would be “swim between the flags” if you are going to take a dip in the sea.

Does that put it into perspective?

Thinking of moving to Australia but scared of snakes?

Check out this link:

More useful links:

I have loads of posts about Australia’s wildlife; in fact I have an entire category about them called Australia’s Bad Things.

Yes, initially it was supposed to be about all things bad, but the more I got to know about Australia’s wildlife, the more I realised that most of it just adds to the sheer beauty of life in Australia.

But here are some of the posts specifically about Australia’s killers….

Of course, the world’s ‘biggest’ killer critter is the tiny mosquito. We have those too and they are a whole lot worse than all the above put together. But nobody says ” Don’t go to Australia, they got mosquitoes!” do they? You can read more about mosquitoes here…….

Had enough yet? No! Good, because I’ve got a couple more for you. Firstly, it was my privilege to be bitten by a Redback spider…….

And secondly, I was honoured when a snake, yes, a real live snake, wandered into my house…..

And don’t forget to swim between the flags!

Visa Assessment Service

 

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{ 179 comments… add one }
  • Valter Russo February 24, 2015, 5:06 pm | Link

    Hi Bob.

    How are you hanging with the ciclones and stuff?

    what brings me here today is the most anoying thing in the world besides politicians… flies
    can you tell us how you guys manage in different places in Australia?
    i found some info if you like to see
    http://www.viacorp.com/flybook/fulltext.html

    there is a myth that australia have more than 1000 flies per capita.
    i’ve read about the mosquitoes a lot, are they in all of australia too?

    best regards.
    sorry my English
    Valter Russo

    • BobinOz February 24, 2015, 10:11 pm | Link

      Funnily enough Valter I have read that article before, it’s very interesting isn’t it? I’ve also written a lot on this website about flies and mosquitoes, if you search using those words in my search box towards the top right hand side of every page, you’ll find them soon enough.

      I also wrote an article for Australia and New Zealand magazine about it and I will be reprinting the article on these pages in a couple of months or so. I can assure you though, particularly here in Brisbane, it’s not as bad as all that. I rarely get bugged by flies although mosquitoes can be a worse problem. There are things you can do around your property though as you will see from the articles I’ve written about them.

      Getting back to flies, it quite literally often depends on which way the wind blows, they can be really pesky in some areas for a while and then completely disappear.

      Check out those articles, you’ll find out more. Cheers, Bob

  • Brian February 22, 2015, 5:10 am | Link

    Thinking bout getting a one way flight to Brisbane and hope people are friendly.. Settle down there and live out my days.. Just fly in with basically the clothes on my back.. What you think..??

    • BobinOz February 22, 2015, 9:35 pm | Link

      Sounds like a bad idea to me, and I’d also like to point out that you will need a visa that will allow you to do what you want to do. Have you got one? If not, it’s not only a very bad idea, it’s an illegal idea.

  • brian swift December 21, 2014, 12:47 am | Link

    trying to find the name of young man killed by blue ringed octopus at watson’s bay sydney 7 june 1967 please

  • Craig November 15, 2014, 1:38 pm | Link

    Hi Bob

    I think the issue for foreigners is more not knowing the general locations of alot of these animals. For instance if you are in the northen territory Wa region you should be advised not to just jump into any streams or water holes as majority of australians know there is a good chance of whats lurking below the surface . The same could go for the beaches if its on dusk or dawn and you are swimming with schools of fish how many aussies compared to foreigners know that it raises chances for sharks. Yes all these animals can be very dangerous just care and respect is needed also please note for anyone coming on holiday to aus dont go straight from airport to the beach and jump straight in stay between yellow and red flags i would say it is the biggest issue for foreigners.

    • BobinOz November 16, 2014, 9:46 pm | Link

      Yes, absolutely Craig, I think local knowledge is very important and anyone visiting this country should speak to the locals for a few safety tips first. I was in Darwin last year, I thought they had done a pretty good job of putting up warning signs close to rivers and other swimming holes, saying beware of the crocs.

      But that’s not to say that every single swimming hole or river has a sign, so it’s always worth checking first. As for swim between the flags, couldn’t agree more.

      Cheers, Bob

  • notwhati'veheard October 15, 2014, 12:52 pm | Link

    http://qi.com/infocloud/horses – according to this, spiders have killed at least 3.. >> data from the National Coroners Information System

    • BobinOz October 15, 2014, 7:54 pm | Link

      The article you have referred me to with that link is talking about the coroner’s report, I wrote about that myself in my post…

      https://www.bobinoz.com/blog/12250/australias-most-dangerous-animals-a-decade-of-death/

      If you go to that page there is actually a download link to the full report, I can assure you there is no reference to 3 spider bite deaths during the period and it is pretty common knowledge that nobody has died here in Australia since the late 70s from the spider bite.

      I think I can pretty safely say that the other website is wrong. If anyone can show me otherwise, I would certainly want to hear about that.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Paulo October 9, 2014, 5:42 am | Link

    Are these encounters with snakes and spiders common in all australia? Can you give me a notion of how are animals scattered?

  • j June 9, 2014, 3:04 pm | Link

    This is great! Love perspective

  • Ross May 28, 2014, 8:19 am | Link

    Also re box jellyfish, I think most deaths were before the 1980s. Since then, designated swimming areas have been netted, first aid treatments have improved, and people have started swimming in full length pantyhose in seasons when they are prevalent. Now that last info will put off the tourists 🙂

    • BobinOz May 28, 2014, 7:26 pm | Link

      Yes, for sure, treatment has got much better and those nets certainly help, although not in the case of the rather scary irukandji. But even treatment for those seems to be getting better.

  • Ross May 28, 2014, 8:12 am | Link

    Thanks Bob. Concur about the blue-ringed octopus. Kids are the main risk. FYI, I was once stung on the side of the neck by a scorpion. It was back in the 70s in an era before tents had sewn-in floors. While the initial sting was quite painful for a few minutes, the main concern was that my face swelled up like a balloon and I was afraid my throat and breathing might become constricted. Not much I could do in the middle of nowhere, so I lay calm and still and put some antihistamine tablets under my tongue (an era when effective hay fever medications were still available). The swelling subsided after about an hour.

    • BobinOz May 28, 2014, 7:24 pm | Link

      That’s true, kids are, anything shiny on pretty that looks like a shell they want to pick it up and put it in a bucket 🙂

      Kids love playing like that on the beach, as adults it pays not to be too far behind sometimes.

      Thank the Lord for antihistamine tablets, they saved a lot of people.

  • Ross May 24, 2014, 5:44 pm | Link

    Your info on snakes, sharks, spiders, crocodiles and jellyfish seems pretty consistent with my memory of 60 + years living in this country, but I am sure when I was a kid – and I’m stretching the memory here back to late 50s to late 60s – there were deaths caused by stonefish and blue-ringed octopus in Moreton Bay, and possibly also cone shells. I’m certain there was at least one death from a blue-ringed octopus and there was a spate of stone fish injuries, although not absolutely sure if any victims actually died from the latter. The cases were reported in The Courier Mail, although it would be a hell of a lot of microfiche work to find them.

    • BobinOz May 25, 2014, 8:10 pm | Link

      Your memory serves you very well Ross, there were indeed incidents in the Moreton Bay area, at Redcliffe to be specific. I think there was a blue ringed octopus death and at least one stonefish injury linked to Redcliffe, I think I mentioned them both on the actual posts for each of these critters.

      Blue ringed octopus deaths have only occurred, as far as I know, where people have picked them up, so there’s a clue to staying safe. Stonefish not so easy.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Kaizad Sheshbaradran April 23, 2014, 7:04 am | Link

    If so i feel bad for australian, first off where the **** is Tarzan.. is he killed XD
    TARZAN WE MISS YOU R.I.P XD XD XD

    • BobinOz April 24, 2014, 12:35 am | Link

      I’m afraid Tarzan didn’t qualify for a visa, his skill wasn’t on the list. 🙂

      • Roger April 24, 2014, 6:37 am | Link

        No jungles?
        But he is a lord, with lots of money. That should have counted for something.

      • Neil September 21, 2014, 9:26 pm | Link

        Can I remember hearing Kookaburras on the Tarzan sound tracks?

        • BobinOz September 22, 2014, 7:53 pm | Link

          Only you can answer that question Neil 🙂 Seriously though, I can’t recall whether kookaburras were on any of the Tarzan soundtracks, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were.

  • Tony March 4, 2014, 4:34 pm | Link

    Anyone know of a complete list of deaths per cause for whole of Australia?
    E.g. heath x
    Cars y
    Houses z
    Etc

    • BobinOz March 5, 2014, 1:00 am | Link

      Search ‘Australian deaths ABS’ and I’m sure the Australian Bureau of Statistics will have a ton of information there, the trick is finding it. There is a mass of information on the site, it will be in there somewhere.

  • Mat Britton February 16, 2014, 9:39 am | Link

    Hi Bob, do you have any stats on how many people are killed by dogs each year in Australia?

  • brack December 15, 2013, 5:01 pm | Link

    You forgot death by ants. Those damn jack jumpers….

    • BobinOz December 16, 2013, 3:59 pm | Link

      I’ve not heard of anyone dying from ant attacks here in Australia, but those jumpers, they are pesky.

      • Ian January 10, 2016, 12:47 pm | Link

        They can indeed kill but it is highly unlikely. They are like bees and wasps so a few people are highly allergic and get an anaphylactic reaction. My understanding is that in Tassie, where jack jumpers are quite common, one person dies about every five years. Quite a few people end up in hospital though.

        • BobinOz January 11, 2016, 7:04 pm | Link

          Yes, that makes sense, thanks for clearing it up Ian.

  • Tomek September 9, 2013, 11:02 pm | Link

    Great job! I shared this site with Polish friends who want to live in ur country because they are so scared about animal killers in Australia. How we see, more dangerous are horses 🙂

    • BobinOz September 10, 2013, 1:59 pm | Link

      Thanks Tomek, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing it with your Polish friends. Can you now share it with the rest of Poland? 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

  • Aussie August 6, 2013, 4:44 pm | Link

    Oi, you forgot about the Drop Bears! 😛

    • BobinOz August 7, 2013, 12:45 pm | Link

      Some things are just so scary they should never, ever been mentioned 🙂

      • Neil June 23, 2014, 5:59 pm | Link

        Just eat vegimite for protection from drop bears.
        I always tell my more nervous tourists that the only thing we have in Australia that will chase you and kill you is the salt water crocodile and we don’t allow them to come down south.

        • BobinOz June 24, 2014, 4:15 pm | Link

          I think a cassowary would have a good go at chasing you and killing you, but we don’t have many of those down south either 🙂

  • Lucinda June 14, 2013, 12:58 am | Link

    Excellent info thanks. I think it would be good to add deaths by motor vehicle accidents plus deaths as a result of drugs and alcohol. Cheers, Lucinda

    • BobinOz June 14, 2013, 7:50 pm | Link

      Good idea, I’ve already written a post about road deaths in Australia compared to the UK, and Australian road deaths are way too high. As for drink, drugs and even smoking, well, I’m pretty sure deaths due to those vices would be massive compared to those caused by our Australian critters.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Laura Evans June 11, 2013, 6:37 pm | Link

    Wow, i have always had a fear of spiders and although it sounds a bit stupid, that’s one thing that’s always put me off coming to Oz! I’m a lot better than i used to be but i still loathe them. But now, you’ve made me want to come to Oz ASAP! 🙂 Nice one!! x

    • BobinOz June 11, 2013, 8:10 pm | Link

      Well that’s made my day Laura! Nobody should avoid moving to Australia because of silly old spiders, so I’m really pleased to hear I’ve talked you out of that. See you in Australia soon 🙂

      Bob

  • Cara May 9, 2013, 10:11 pm | Link

    I have lived in australia for 13 years and have seen 2 redbacks. That is it

    • BobinOz May 11, 2013, 1:03 am | Link

      I’ve been here over five years and I’ve never actually seen one, which is interesting, because I know at least one has seen me. The little critter bit me!

  • Joe February 23, 2013, 12:30 am | Link

    Thanks for this,

    I’ve been thinking of moving to Australia in a few years time once I’ve built up enough years work experience to qualify on the Skilled Occupation List but the idea of all these animals was freaking me out.

    You’ve definitely put things in perspective. I’ve had a look into some UK stats and was interesting to see that over 100 people are bitten by the venomous adder each year.

    Cheers

    • BobinOz February 26, 2013, 5:51 pm | Link

      Yes, there are dangers living in just about every country in the world, I’ll settle for the ones we have here in Australia, they really aren’t as bad as all that. Glad you enjoyed the article, hope to see you here in Australia soon.

      Bob

  • clark January 31, 2013, 12:19 am | Link

    thanks that help me relax. im going to oz for first time sono

    • BobinOz January 31, 2013, 4:12 pm | Link

      See you here soon then Clark 🙂

  • Dillon January 20, 2013, 4:56 am | Link

    k

  • Dillon January 19, 2013, 10:33 am | Link

    my email is (removed) if u want to talk i like your website a lot

    • BobinOz January 19, 2013, 7:35 pm | Link

      I removed your email address from your comment Dillon, save you ending up with lots of spam messages. Glad you liked my website, we can talk on here 🙂

  • Dillon January 18, 2013, 9:38 am | Link

    sorry for the spelling

  • Dillon January 18, 2013, 9:38 am | Link

    now that i think of it australie isnt that bad of a place.

  • Ella January 11, 2013, 1:14 pm | Link

    Haha.. You never updated the shark attacks. There were 14 in 2012. Sure, only two out of 14 died… But that’s two too many… and they were both in Perth, WA. Which is where I live. Which made everyone a bit scared to swim. lol

    • BobinOz January 12, 2013, 5:10 pm | Link

      As the page says, the figures are up to date as at March 2012, but I know it’s been a very bad year over in Western Australia, I wrote about it in a post about Australian Sharks and Death. And it’s got even worse since then as well, I think I’d be a bit scared to go into the sea over your way as well!

      Cheers

  • Chris (Amateur Traveler) September 7, 2012, 4:56 am | Link

    But you didn’t mention vending machines. In a typical year vending machines kill and average of 9.1 Australians… more than all the others combined.

    • BobinOz September 7, 2012, 2:23 pm | Link

      No! Really?

      I tried to check it out, but I couldn’t find anything to back that up, although vending machines do kill occasionally. It’s usually people trying to steal food out of the machine or going crazy because they’ve lost their money, apparently. I read about a couple of deaths in the US, but nine a year in Australia? Where did you read that?

    • Roger September 8, 2012, 12:55 am | Link

      This got my curiosity up so just had to check it out. I found several sites that stated there are an average of a bit over 2 people a year killed by vending machine tipovers in the U.S. One was an insurance site, two others were urban legend sites. None dealing with Australia, but I don’t know why this wouldn’t hold true there as well.
      And then there’s the question of 9.1 Australians per what time period. Year? Decade?

      • BobinOz September 8, 2012, 9:18 pm | Link

        Well it’s supposed to be 9.1 a year according to Chris the traveller, I really can’t see it, can you? We would have seen it on 10 News by now, wouldn’t we? I saw the figure for two in the US, that would equate to about one decade for us, wouldn’t it?

        In a perverse way, I think it would be cool if vending machines killed more people than snakes here. No more Venomland tag, Vendingland! But I can’t see it being true.

        Chris, what’s your source?

        • Roger September 9, 2012, 1:06 am | Link

          If it was 9.1 I’m sure it would be in the news about everywhere. I don’t know how that would equate to one decade for y’all, if you’re referring to Australians.
          And frankly if you think about it Australia wouldn’t want a “Vendingland” tag. It would give the impression that the people thieves and stupid. Besides, it would take years of research to come up with an “anti-vendom”.

          • BobinOz September 10, 2012, 12:24 am | Link

            Well, what I was thinking, was there are about 20 times more people living in the US than here in Australia, so if two die a year in the US in one year, then it would take 20 years for the same two people to die here in Australia. That’s one a decade.

            If, on the other hand, 9.1 Australians are really dying every year here, then that makes us 4.55 times more stupid than Americans were in the US in that one year. Maybe I’m over analysing this?

            Scientists though, given time, will surely come up with an antivendom, which I’m not sure is such a good thing. People would end up punching vending machines, trying to get a free can of Coke and there will be no real consequences. That’s not a society I want to live in.

  • Roger July 15, 2012, 11:37 pm | Link

    Sharks*: Accounted for 25 deaths between 2000 and (March) 2012 in Australia, about 2 a year.

    How does this come to 2 per year? It looks like about one per month.

    • BobinOz July 16, 2012, 6:18 pm | Link

      Still looks like 2 a year to me, one of us is misreading something.

      • Roger July 17, 2012, 12:15 am | Link

        Oops, I misread. I read it as 2010 to 2012. Sorry.

        • BobinOz July 17, 2012, 9:34 pm | Link

          I did wonder, no worries! It could have been worse, you could have been right 🙂 Then none of us would ever go into the sea!

  • jatinder bhatia July 10, 2012, 5:42 pm | Link

    good sharing thanks

    • BobinOz July 11, 2012, 8:15 pm | Link

      Thanks!

  • Ayran May 14, 2012, 11:39 am | Link

    Thanks very much for all that very useful and interesting info !!

    • BobinOz May 14, 2012, 9:10 pm | Link

      You are welcome Ayran!

  • ashley April 24, 2012, 2:32 pm | Link

    wosh. so excited to go to austalia knowing that i will be safer than i originally assumed.
    what about scorpions though???

    • BobinOz April 24, 2012, 9:56 pm | Link

      Yes, we’ve got scorpions. I’ve never seen one, and so far, nobody in Australia has been killed by one. So, no worries then eh!

  • kieran norway December 8, 2011, 7:49 pm | Link

    smd!!!!

    • BobinOz December 9, 2011, 9:47 pm | Link

      smd? Is that a word?

      • troll September 17, 2014, 4:36 pm | Link

        he said s*** my d***

        • BobinOz September 17, 2014, 8:01 pm | Link

          Gosh! Why would somebody make a comment like that? It’s a rhetorical question, of course.

          Thanks troll, I’m glad you explained that one to me, but now I have to censor your reply, no hard feelings, this is a family blog 🙂

  • carla clark December 8, 2011, 7:48 pm | Link

    wow thats alot better then i expected i want to move there now !!!!!!!!!!!

    • BobinOz December 9, 2011, 9:46 pm | Link

      Come on then!

  • carla clark December 8, 2011, 7:47 pm | Link

    wow thats alot better then i expected !!!!!!!!!!!

    • BobinOz December 9, 2011, 9:45 pm | Link

      Yes, it is, isn’t it?

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