Everyone knows that snakes, sharks, bears and big cats are dangerous but there are many other animals out there that are quite capable of killing you or at least making you very sick that you might not suspect.
Not surprisingly, given their sheer size, an angry elephant is not something worth sticking around to see but did you know that the most dangerous mammal in Africa is a hippopotamus? In fact, hippos kill more people than any other large African animal. They are extremely protective of their young and very territorial. They can move at speeds of 20 km/h which means they’ll outrun you and, even though they are strictly vegetarian, those canine teeth can be up to 20 inches in size. Between sheer mass and an incredible bite, they are deadly.
Eagles, falcons, owls, these are all species that you expect could cause serious damage if they ever went looking to do you harm but would you ever suspect the swan? Most people have seen a swan go after someone or an animal of it got too close. They obviously feel strongly about invaders. They feel the same way in the water and will actively try to drown animals that get too close by forcing them under the water and keeping them there. While they probably couldn’t drown an adult human, they could certainly do in a dog or small child.
Cassowaries are large, flightless birds. They can be 5-6 ft tall and weigh up to 100 lbs. They are native to New Guinea. Like ostriches, they are quite strong and fast and can run at speeds of up to 31 km/hr. They also have these 5 inch long dagger like claws. As they mature they can become quite aggressive when riled up. They can (and have) outrun a man and disembowelled him with that claw.
Beauty Is Only Skin Deep
Some animals that you might not suspect of being poisonous are actually quite capable of giving off lethal or very dangerous levels of toxin. The sea is full of toxic creatures, many of them quite small and very pretty. When it comes to nature, bright, pretty colors are a serious warning sign. This is true on land and in the sea. For example, the blue ringed octopi are small (5-8 inches) and very beautiful. They are also extremely poisonous and can easily kill a man. The box jellyfish, which has a small bell but can have very long tentacles, is relatively transparent, making it difficult to see. Its venom tends to cause cardiac arrest and is often fatal. It is believed that more than a hundred people die every year from their venom.
Some species, like the well known poison dart frog have poison secretions on their skin. Two bird species, the blue capped ifrita and the pitohui have a similar effect. While not enough to kill a man, except perhaps if you the bird feathers and all, there is enough toxin to cause a serious reaction. The slow loris, a small primate that is incredibly cute looking, takes it a step further. They can secret poison out of glands on their elbows. They rub this poison on their offspring to help protect them from predators. They can also rub it on their tongues before biting you. The toxin tends to cause a severe allergic reaction, often an anaphylactic reaction that can be fatal.
All potential prey species evolve abilities to defend themselves just as all predators evolve ways to catch their prey. It is important to remember that even if you might not suspect an animal of being dangerous, it has to protect and feed itself and may have evolved mechanisms quite capable of seriously injuring or even killing a human being.
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