Everyone knows by now that Australia is the kind of country that you'd have to be mad to willingly live in, as often proved by the people who actually do live there. Intense temperatures, wild weather, and expanses of empty space so vast that if you're driving across the Outback, you're advised to bring along enough food and water for at least two days (just in case) make Australia one of the harshest environments on the planet... and that's not even taking into consideration that it's the country where some of the most horrifying animals in existence live.
Snakes that can eat crocodiles, centipedes that can eat snakes, spiders big enough to attack birds, and jellyfish that can paralyze your whole body despite being no bigger than your thumbnail... is there anything in the Land Down Under that's actually safe? The answer is, well, probably not... but that's half the fun! Take a good look at these critters now (you'll be seeing them later in your nightmares).
15 Big, ugly stone fish
These little buggers aren't just ugly as sin—they're deadly as well. Masters of camouflage, stone fish are known as the most toxic fish in the world. They live in the shallow, rocky parts of ocean beaches where swimmers often frequent. Easy to miss, the stone fish lurks camouflaged among the other rocks beneath the water.
When an unwary swimmer has the misfortune of stepping on the stone fish, the fish's spiky spines pierce the sensitive skin on the underside of the swimmer's foot. These spines, which cause an excruciating pain, leave the stone fish's victims inadvertently mainlining a heavy dose of venom that can worsen depending on the depth of the spines. Muscle weakness and shock are only the beginning for victims of the stone fish—if not treated promptly, the stone fish's venom can cause lifelong pain and even death.
14 Creepy-crawly funnel-web spiders
Among the most feared, notorious members of the Australian ecosystem, not every species of funnel-web is dangerous. Those that are, however? They're utterly terrifying. Funnel-web spiders have an incredibly fast-acting venom that ought to be enough to scare your pants off, but it totally gets worse.
They can be found living too close to suburbia for comfort, and when they get together, they can coat entire trees with their sticky webs. The Sydney Funnel-web Spider has caused 13 recorded deaths in its time, and has been responsible for even more medically serious bites. It can be found throughout Sydney's suburbia, begging the question of how any Australian manages to be brave enough to ever even leave their house.
13 Venomous blue-ringed octopus
This baby may look pretty, but beware! Those rings mean deadly things. The blue-ringed octopus isn't an aggressive animal by nature, but when it feels threatened, its blue ring coloring activates—at which point, it's already too late. This little guy's bite might not feel like much (even though it's powerful enough to penetrate a wetsuit), but it contains a poison so strong, it can paralyze a full-grown human to the point that they can't breathe.
Totally without anti-venom, the only treatment for a bite from this critter is hours of chest compressions and artificial respiration until the venom has worked its way out of the victim's system. All the while, the victim is left conscious, unable to move or even inhale on their own.
12 Downright evil box jellyfish
Pretty and pretty deadly, the box jelly is the most venomous marine creature in the world. Once stung, you have virtually no chance of survival—the pain from its sting is literally so overwhelming that the box jelly's victims go into shock almost immediately and find themselves utterly unable to reach shore.
Swimming with a watchful friend is one way to keep safe from this notorious Aussie creature, but even then, sometimes the buddy system isn't enough. Northern Australian swimmers are advised to keep out of the water from November to May just to stay out of the way of the box jelly's nasty tentacles, which can grow to 10 feet long!
11 Small but deadly Irukandji jellyfish
If the big, scary box jellyfish wasn't enough to scare you into never swimming again, meet its little brother. The Irukandji is the most venomous box jellyfish in the world, it's no bigger than your thumb, but it can literally fire its stingers at you from a distance, leaving its victims in excruciating pain.
So small that it's almost invisible to unwary swimmers in the water, the Irukandji's sting creates a pain that has been described as "surreal." It hits in waves, but none of the waves ever seem to subside or pass—they only build. This can last for up to twenty-four hours, even with treatment. The Irukandji's presence in Australian waters largely depends on water temperature and the time of year, but they're definitely enough to make a traveller think twice before plunging into Australian oceans without a double-take.
10 Mean, bitchy cassowaries
This massive bird can grow up to six feet tall, and if that doesn't intimidate you, just wait: it can kick and bite hard enough to snap bone, and its claws are sharp enough to rip right through human skin. The cassowary has been called "The Most Dangerous Bird on Earth," and even seasoned zookeepers find it incredibly difficult to deal with and manage.
With five-inch claws, a three-foot upward jump, and the ability to run at speeds up to thirty miles per hour, once a cassowary attacks, there's not much humans can do to defend themselves. Unfortunately, when a cassowary attacks, the worst thing a human could do is attempt to run away. Turn your back on a raging cassowary and it just might kill you. Continue to face forward, however, and there's some chance that you might be intimidating enough to scare it away.
9 Giant snake-killing centipedes
Warning: this video isn't for the faint of heart. Not only can these massive centipedes take out snakes, but when they bite humans, the hurt can last for days. The venomous centipede might not have a powerful enough bite to kill a human, but when it comes to other wildlife, the world should look out.
The creepy, gross disgusting thing killing our creepy, gross disgusting enemy is not necessarily our friend—this is not the kind of animal that we're about to get hyped up to see at the local zoo, anyway.
8 Giant freaking earthworms
The giant Gippsland earthworm can grow to nearly ten feet long. Not dangerous or anything, just, ew. Gross. Really, it's almost worse for not being dangerous. We have no reason to be afraid of it, no need to cower in fear... but there's just something hidden away deep in the human psyche that says a worm that big can't be up to any good.
Keep this thing away from us, thanks. There's no need to pretend that we're cool with something that looks like it might be creating an infinite network of underground tunnels while it plots the downfall of humanity and bides its time. We understand that they're probably great for the soil... but they're terrible for our peace of mind. We don't even like little tiny earthworms! When it comes to these massive ones, we're pretty much happy with never leaving the house again.
7 Blood-sucking paralysis ticks
Shown here before and after feeding, the Ixodes Holocyclus (known as the paralysis tick) doesn't usually bother humans—but it can cause paralysis in the dogs and cats that it feeds on. Native Australian animals are often too hardcore to be affected by this tick, but that doesn't help non-native animals any. Cows, sheep, and other livestock can become victims of this nasty little blood-sucker, and even animals as big as horses can suffer from their bite. Comparatively, our poor dogs and cats would never stand a chance to the paralysis tick's bite.
The only thing that the paralysis tick does better than paralyzing is breeding. A fully engorged female can drop as many as 3,000 eggs before she dies, and any female offspring will inject more venom than their more harmless little brothers as they grow older. It can take as few as two of these ticks to paralyze a young calf, and bigger animals can easily stumble into an area where they may pick up dozens.
6 Colossal saltwater crocs
The biggest living reptile in the world by mass and the most dangerous type of crocodile for humans, Australia's saltwater crocs can grow up to 20 feet in length. Look out: these crocs are actually known man-eaters, though they're usually more likely to target livestock.
One or two people a year on average have the misfortune of tangling with these monsters and losing (although, that's still fewer deaths than what horses, vending machines, and stairs cause every year, to be fair). Wild pigs, buffalos, and even cows and sheep can be the targets of these crocs' hunger, and their jaws can exert the kind of pressure that has to be measured by the ton.
5 Ravenous water pythons
When your country plays host to the biggest crocodiles in the world and also contains snakes big enough to actually devour said crocodiles, maybe staying inside and playing video games isn't such a bad pastime for a child to have, after all.
Smaller versions of these pythons eat mainly the same things that average snakes do, like small rodents. But when these little guys grow big, they can take on some seriously massive prey. The croc in the picture is over a meter long—or it was before the python got to it, anyway. Witnesses to this little scuffle said that the croc tried to fight back, but never stood a chance, proving that there are actually scarier things to worry about than crocodiles in the Land Down Unda.
4 Bird-eating golden silk orb-weaving spiders
Massive, aggressive... and yeah, it'll turn your bird feeder into its very own personal buffet. Most of these spiders get by eating smaller prey, like insects, but sometimes they're lucky enough to catch a small bird or a bat in their twisted web... and then, it's dinner time! The spider will weave silk around the bird, trapping it even further until it's subdued enough to eat.
If you're feeling sorry for the poor bird's that this spider traps, however, save it. Birds are one of the golden silk's natural predators, and though the spider's bite can cause nausea and discomfort, it's by no means killer and is often found to be totally harmless. The golden silk can actually even be kind of cute—it will befriend smaller spiders who work to keep the web clean and clear of debris in exchange for leftovers.
3 The world's most venomous snake
Snakes in general are, well, in a word, terrifying. They're creepy, they're slithery, and we can never keep track of what ones are going to bite us to death, which will try to suffocate us and then swallow us whole, and which just want to chill and be left alone. The inland taipan might be too elusive to be threatening to humans, but considering that its bite contains enough venom to kill several full-grown people... yeah, we'll be steering clear of this guy.
Often cited as the most venomous snake in the world, the inland taipan is (fortunately) not often encountered by humans... but don't let your guard down, because its cousin, the coastal taipan, is a fighter, not a lover. The costal taipan is slightly less venomous, but makes up for it by being aggressive like a dude who won't stop trying to get your number on ladies night. Eek!
2 Stinging cone shell snails
They might look a little too much like an uncircumcised dong to take them seriously, but larger cone shell snails have an attack tooth that acts like a hypodermic needle, which can be used to inject a venom that can be serious or even deadly to humans. It's on the list of Australia's top ten most venomous animals, which is saying something when the whole country seems to be totally a-OK with eradicating any and all human life that touches foot on its shores.
The cone shell only usually stings a human when it's accidentally stepped on or mistaken for a pretty shell on the beach and picked up. While its sting is mostly painless, the neurotoxins in its venom can blur vision and affect speech.
1 Aggressive bull sharks
Great white sharks get a bad rap for being blood-thirsty when really, most attacks that they're responsible for are totally accidental. Great whites often mistake their human victims for seals, which is one of their favorite sources of food.
The bull shark, however, is like the great whites 'roid raging cousin. With little tolerance for provocation and a serious territorial streak, these sharks are among the most likely to attack an unsuspecting human. They use their hefty body weight to slam into their prey, disorienting and sometimes even killing their victims on impact. Then, before their prey can recover, they come in hot with their teeth, beginning the meal before the victim can even wonder what hit them.