8 Seriously Cute But Dangerous Creatures to Watch Out for While Traveling
One of the best parts about traveling around the world is seeing and experiencing things you never would at home: the food, the weather, the people and, of course, the local wildlife. Not much evokes the “aw” factor more than an adorable animal, but appearances can most definitely be deceiving. Some of the cuddliest-looking creatures out there are more dangerous than you could possibly imagine. So here is fair warning on some creatures that might appear to be totally harmless but are actually ferocious and even deadly!
1. Slow Loris
The slow loris might look like a gentle baby Ewok, but these furry fellows are the only known venomous primates in the world. Native to Southeast Asia and its bordering areas, a nibble from one of these cutie-pies can be deadly. They have toxic glands on their elbows, which they lick to lace their bites with poison, and if they feel threatened they won’t hesitate to attack. A human who is allergic to their venom can go into anaphylactic shock if unfortunate enough to get bitten.
NATIVE TO: Slow Lorises are found in Southern Asia and Western Indonesia. They like to live high in the trees of tropical rain forests.
Pufferfish might look cool, but getting too close to or eating one can prove deadly, especially since the pufferfish’s toxic venom has no known antidote.
According to National Geographic, a pufferfish’s tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide, and one little pufferfish has enough of it to kill 30 adult humans. Holy smokes!
In Japan, the flesh of the puffer — called fugu — is considered a delicacy, but dine on it at your peril: It should only be prepared by licensed chefs who are trained to carefully remove the highly toxic parts like the liver and ovaries. The flesh and fins are edible, but these, too, can get contaminated with this lethal poison when the fish is being cleaned.
Native to: Pufferfish are most often found in tropical and subtropical waters. To sample the dangerous delicacy you’d have to go all the way to Japan, but we recommend you opt for some lovely, safe and delicious salmon instead.
People often clamber to touch these seemingly docile creatures at the aquarium. But make no mistake — this prehistoric cartilaginous fish’s barbed stinger can be killer.
When they feel threatened or trapped, stingrays can lash out with their dangerous, venom-filled tail. While it is incredibly painful, the venom isn’t normally deadly. People often get stung on their feet or ankles after accidentally stepping on one, yet they typically live to tell the tale. Get struck in the chest or abdomen by one of these beautiful creatures, though, and you might not be so lucky.
NATIVE TO: Stingrays are most common in coastal tropical and subtropical marine waters around the world.
4. Brown Bears
If you go down to the woods today, steer clear of those cuddly brown bears. Seriously, stay well away. Bears — especially the cubs — might look infinitely snugglable, but these furry beasts can be downright deadly.
Although bears rarely attack humans on sight, they might react if they feel threatened or surprised. If you are unfortunate enough to get between a mother bear and her cubs, she can quite literally bite your head off. Despite their impressive size, bears can run up to 40 miles per hour. So if you’re traveling to areas where brown bears are native, it’s advisable to take some particularly potent pepper spray.
NATIVE TO: Brown bears live in the forests and mountains of Europe, Asia and North America.
They might look docile and slow, but National Geographic ranks the hippo as one of the most dangerous animals in the world. The male hippo can average between 3,500 and 9,920 pounds, according to the San Diego Zoo, and their extremely aggressive and territorial nature means you really don’t want to get too close.
They can run at a speed of 19 miles an hour, and their enormous jaws have 20-inch canines that can rip a human — and even a tough-skinned crocodile — to shreds. They commonly attack boats on the rivers and lakes where they wallow and will chew, drown or stamp you to death without a second thought. So don’t even think about going anywhere near one!
NATIVE TO: Wild hippos live in Africa.
Just like the hippo, beavers are vegetarian. But invade their territory and you’ll pay the price. These long-toothed critters don’t normally attack without provocation, but if a human disturbs their watery habitats they can go all-out grizzly.
And a bite from a beaver is nothing to laugh about: With teeth that can gnaw through trees and that are long enough to pass through a human limb, they can cause some serious damage. Beavers live in or around freshwater ponds, rivers, lakes or swamps and have been known to attack swimmers.
NATIVE TO: You’ll find beavers living in North America and Eurasia.
You don’t need to travel to a faraway place to be at risk of getting bitten by a dog, but get nipped or scratched by a stray one and you could catch rabies.
If you are planning a vacation to India, then you should definitely beware and perhaps even consider getting a pre-exposure vaccine before you leave.
An average of 20,000 people die of the disease every year, and, according to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, India accounts for 35 percent of human rabies. The country’s 30 million stray dogs are therefore a big health problem. If bitten, seek medical treatment (in the form of anti-rabies shots) immediately. Don’t wait to see if symptoms arise: These can take weeks or months to manifest, and when rabies is left untreated it’s almost always fatal.
NATIVE TO: India, Russia and Sierra Leone all have serious stray dog problems.
They may sleep up to 22 hours a day, but that still leaves time for cuddly koalas to flip out. These marsupials can become vicious when they feel in danger, and they’ll use their sharp claws and teeth to bite and scratch anything they fear is threatening them. They also carry the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia, which can be passed on to humans if a koala urinates on them. So think twice before picking up one of these little eucalyptus eaters for a hug — you might get way more than you bargained for.
NATIVE TO: Koalas call Australia home.
Read more: 10 Ways You May be Shortening Your Life
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever had an encounter with a cute but not-so-cuddly animal? Perhaps you’ve risked your life to eat fugu, or maybe the very thought of having a run-in with one of these animals has completely turned you off to traveling. Let us know your thoughts and stories in the comments section below!