Skip to main content

Most Dangerous Animals in the U.S.

What are the Most Dangerous Animals in the US?

The United States is home to a panoply of animals and creatures from literally every walk of life. From a cutesy ring-tailed cat to a strange mole with a nose right out of a science fiction nightmare, North America has an extraordinary collection of life. While 99% of these animals pose no risk of harm to humans. A few species should be avoided at all costs. Below is the definitive list of the most dangerous animals in the United States:

 #10: Sharks

Despite being cast as the villain in far too many schlocky Hollywood movies, shark attacks are incredibly rare. On average, the United States experiences just 16 shark attacks each year, with only 1 death every 2 years. The most recent attack occurred near Santa Cruz, California when a surfer had a fatal encounter with a Great White. While 99% of beachgoers are considered to be safe as they swim and splash about in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, surfers and bodyboarders are at risk due to sharks mistaking them for fleeing seals. Sadly, tubular aerials can sometimes come at a steep price.

#9 Bears

The United States is home to three species of bear: Black, Grizzly, and Polar bears. Of these three, the Black bear is the least dangerous. Black bears aren’t aggressive if you keep your distance and stand your ground. If you happen upon one, the best strategy is to try to scare it off. Yelling aloud and waving your arms about can make the bear think you are bigger than you are and a real threat. If the bear does charge you, do not attempt to escape into a tree. Black bears are savvy climbers and have no problem knocking you to the ground.

Hikers and campers should be especially wary of the two most infamous and terrifying types of bears, the Grizzly and Polar. If you are ever unlucky enough to encounter one of these two fearsome beasts off the beaten path, you should probably consider praying to your preferred deity of choice. Whatever you do, running is the worst option. Both species will see you as prey if you try to hoof it to safety. When it comes to Grizzlies, you should first stand your ground and then slowly back away. If the Grizzly begins to charge, hit the dirt, curl into a ball, and play dead. Be sure to cover your head with your hands and arms for protection.

If you bump into a Polar bear, on the other hand, you are likely in for a fight. Playing dead does not work with these massive one-ton killers. Polar bears out and about are looking for food no matter its size, shape, or form, and a meandering human makes for a tasty snack. Again, do not run. If you have bear spray, get ready to use it, spraying the bear directly in the face. If the bear physically attacks you, fight back at all costs, particularly the eyes and nose. Playing dead simply helps them finish the job. If, by some miracle, you somehow manage to survive an encounter with a Polar bear, you should probably reconsider the life decisions you’ve made to put you in such a dangerous position.

#8 Mountain Lions, Cougars, and Pumas

Known as mountain lions, cougars, or even pumas, these giant cats once occupied all 50 states. Due to hunting and human expansion, they can only be found in 14 western states and in Florida. Thankfully, mountain lion attacks are just as rare as these cats. When attacks do occur, it’s almost always due to the cat mistaking a bicyclist, skier, or hiker for its prey of choice: deer. Just as you would with a bear, it’s best to fight back if a mountain lion attacks you. Go for the eyes and nose, since these are tender areas you can exploit. If you’re lucky, the animal will realize you aren’t its delicacy of choice and flee back to where it came.

#7 Venomous Snakes

To date, there are up to 20 species of venomous snakes in the United States, with 16 belonging solely to the rattlesnake family. The remaining 4 species are coral, cottonmouth, and copperhead. Unfortunately, snakebite victims often don’t know they’ve been bitten by a snake until it is too late. The best strategy is to not get bitten in the first place. Hikers, campers, and nature enthusiasts should wear thick hiking boots and look down as they walk as often as possible. It’s also wise to have an anti-venom kit handy if the area you are visiting is known for poisonous snakes.

If you are bitten, you should get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Try not to move the bitten limb as this increases blood flow and spreads the venom faster throughout your body. Be sure to remove any jewelry or clothing around the bitten area in preparation for swelling,  and try to memorize the snake’s appearance if possible. This will help attending medical staff with treating your particular bite.

#6 Black Widow and Recluse Spiders

In the United States, alone, there are over 3,000 species of spiders. Out of this extraordinary amount of spiders, only 3 are known to be venomous. The Recluse spider, the Hobo Spider, and the infamous Black Widow. If not treated both promptly and properly, Black Widows and recluse spiders (Brown and Chilean) are especially dangerous and even deadly to children, the elderly, and the sick. Luckily, these spiders are mostly rare for humans to encounter. Nonetheless, you should remain vigilant, particularly when it comes to Black Widows. These dangerous creatures tend to live in closer proximity to humans and their bites are extremely painful and can have long-lasting consequences. Thankfully, their distinct red markings are easy to spot.

#5 Hornets, Bees, Wasp

Most people consider flying insects of this variety to be little more than a pest. Yet, for many people these insects are actually potential terrors of death and destruction. Gram by gram, hornets, wasps, and bees are easily the most deadly creature in the entire country. Without a doubt they kill far more Americans each year than any other animal. The CDC reports that flying insects caused the deaths of a total of 1,109 people between the years 2000 and 2017 for an average of 62 deaths each year. Understandably, most of these deaths were due to allergies, but this shouldn’t diminish the risk, as the majority of victims likely did not know they were allergic in the first place. Besides, being stung by a flying insect is rather painful, so you should just avoid these winged scourges at all costs.


Here are a few symptoms to look out for if you believe you are suffering an allergic reaction:

  • Red or white discoloration of the skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hives on the skin
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock

#4 Horses, Cows, and Other Farm Animals

Yes, you read that right. Farm livestock is one of the most dangerous class of animals in the entire US. To those in the know, though, cattle and horses certainly have a deadly reputation. Horses are known for being temperamental and will throw nasty kicks if they are unhappy. Goats, too, have no qualms with butting their heads along with their sharp horns into humans whom they disagree with.

The most surprising entry, however, is that of cows. Typically slow and docile, few people would ever consider cows to pose a threat. Yet, cows can be dangerous if they all begin to stampede at the same time, and they will certainly stampede if they feel threatened or if they are provoked. Joggers and bicyclists whom exercise in the countryside or near farmlands can attest to the danger of spooking herds of cattle. It’s best to keep your distance if you happen upon a group of cows roaming in the road. They are faster than you think and will fling their massive weight into your body if you don’t get out of the way. You should also leave Fido at home, as dogs can spook cows since they frequently mistake them for their far more predatory cousin, the wolf.

#3 Deer

Large Elk Crossing the road in Wyoming

Another surprising entry is that of deer. Yes, sweet, docile Bambi is actually one of the biggest killers in the United States. The threat deer pose to commuters in and out of rural areas is greater than most assume. Deer cause so many car accidents each and every year that the financial toll alone is astronomical. For example, take California. The Golden State pays upward of $300 million dollars in compensation for accidents caused by deer wandering in highways and country roads. Statistics show that you are far more likely to be killed by a collision with a deer than you are by the bite of a shark or the claws of an angry bear. Some states have even gone so far as to adopt sterilization programs in the hopes of reducing the number of deer within their borders. So, the next time you decide to take a drive out into the country, keep an eye out for Bambi bounding across the blacktop. It could be the last sight you see before disaster.

#2 Dogs

Everyone is familiar with humanity’s best friend. The simple fact is that your cute, furry companion is actually dangerous for a variety of reasons. Statistics compiled by the Center for Disease Control show that each year there are an estimated 5 million dog bites in the United States. Such a harrowing statistic translates to 1 bite for every 70 Americans, far higher than any other animal on this list.

An even more disturbing statistic is that 20% of these bites are so serious that victims often require immediate medical attention afterward. The next time you feel the need to pet a random dog on a leash, no matter how cute, remember that a full third of all dog bites potentially become infected. So, it might be smarter to simply admire that furry pooch from afar than to risk a deadly encounter with a Campylobacter infection.

#1 Humans

Of course humans top this list. One look at the statistics below should quell any doubts about who the most dangerous animal is in the United States. Below are crime statistics straight from the FBI:

  • 810,825 Aggravated Assaults
  • 1,401,840 Burglaries
  • 319,356 Robberies
  • 1,247,321 Violent Crimes
  • 17,284 Murders

What makes these statistics even more disturbing is that each of these crimes took place solely in 2017. To make matters worse,

Dangerous situation on zebra crossing. Intentional motion blur

over 1.25 million people worldwide die each year from car accidents, in states like Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, and Montana. with another 20-50 million people being injured. The simple fact is that you are more likely be hurt or killed at the hands of your neighbor, by an incredibly wide margin, than you are by any other animal on this list. Combined. And, to be honest, it’s not even close. Not that this is news to anyone who has spent time in the company of humans.

Thanks for reading The Advocates list of Most Dangerous Animals in the United States. Be safe out there, America.