Last week I blogged about 12 dangerous Australian animals. Most of them are pretty obvious – spiders, snakes, sharks. But Australia has also cute and fuzzy animals that can kill you. They are especially nefarious because, well, they’re so darn cute.
Australian Dingo: “Who’s a good boy? You are! Yes, you are!” Aw, look how cute! Don’t you just want to take one home and toss a squeaky toy at it? Nuuuuu. The dingo is a free-roaming wild dog found mostly in the outback. Because they have lived largely apart from people and dogs, they’ve maintained ancient characteristics that put them closer to their wolf parents than their domestic cousins. This is a wild, intelligent predator. Do not let it follow you home and do not let it play with your baby.
Kangaroo: There’s nothing more iconic of Australia than the beautiful kangaroo. And it’s so cute! Those big eyes, that inquisitive expression, those powerful hind legs with sharpened claws that can disembowel you.
Magpie: This beautiful black and white bird is the emblem of Theo’s (and, by extension, mine) favourite footy team. You may not think it’s so cute after it swoops down and pecks your eyes out.
Cassowary: This flightless bird may look about as harmless as a chicken, but do not be deceived. For starters, it’s huge! It stands about 6 feet tall and it has enormously powerful legs with a dagger-like claw to kick you with and inflict serious injury.
Koala: Koalas are so cute and cuddly like teddy bears. Teddy bears with Freddy Krueger claws.
Tasmanian devil: We all know this one thanks to Looney Tunes. Cute, eh? It’s like a big hamster. Not! This dog-sized carnivorous marsupial has a terrifying screech that will be the last thing you hear. It generates the strongest bite per unit body mass of any living mammal and there’s nowhere to go. The Tasmanian devil is capable of surprising speed and endurance and it can climb trees and swim across rivers.
In all seriousness, these animals are generally harmless to people. Dingoes, which are in vulnerable status, rarely attack humans. They’re more of a danger to sheep. There are very few records of kangaroos attacking humans without provocation and only one reliably documented case of a fatality from a kangaroo attack (1936). Magpies can be aggressive while protecting their nests so just keep on walking. Cassowaries are shy, solitary birds facing extinction. Koalas sleep 16-18 hours and chomp on eucalyptus while awake so they can’t really be bothered with attacking humans. And, sadly, Tasmanian devils are endangered and facing extinction largely due to cancer.
About the images:
- Look at me dad by PartnerHund.com, Wikipedia, CC BY 2.0
- Baby Kangaroo, Guzer
- Australian Magpie by Aviceda, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
- Jurong Southern Cassowary by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
- Friendly Female Koala by Quartl, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
- Tasmanian Devil by, Noodle snacks, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0