While human beings threaten more species annually than all animals on the planet combined, we are not always the top predator. Sometimes, animals attack humans for one reason or another. It might be due to feeling threatened, a mental illness, hunger, or possibly by accident. This happens a lot around the world but it also happens a ton in North America. This made us wonder, what are the deadliest animals in the United States?
When we say the “United States,” we’re referring specifically to all of the areas that are currently claimed as a “state” by the nation as of this writing. This will not cover annexed territories such as Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. Our list will focus on the “deadliest” in the aspect of the most common to attack, injure, or kill humans. Yet we’re also going to connect this somewhat to how deadly they “could” be to us as well as animals around them. That being said, let’s get started!
Attacks Per Year:A Few Hundred
Deaths Per Year:Less Than 2
When we reference “cottonmouth” snakes, we’re referring to a list of a few different snakes in that category. We say this, even though they are all virtually the same snake. It simply has several names associated. They all like to be around the water, giving rise to the most common name after “Cottonmouth” itself, the “Water Moccasin.” The Cottonmouth is not one you want to be around, as they can be pretty aggressive.
They tend to hang around water areas near the shoreline, often around creeks, ponds, lakes, and rivers. Due to where they are and how aggressive they can be, they are known for attacking at least a few hundred people per year. Yet like other snakes in the United States, the death amount is very low. It’s more common you’ll be struck by lightning than to die from a snakebite in America. Yet some do not get treatment and have died, which makes them one of the deadliest animals in the United States.
When you see a raccoon, you might not immediately fear the little robbers but you probably shouldn’t try to pet one either. It might not get as much press as it used to, but raccoons are not really afraid of humans. Most animals might be startled by humans, especially at night. Yet raccoons have somehow become emboldened and don’t run away. This is likely due to living among humans for so long. In fact, some are so bold that they might try to attack a human. Especially when in a group.
While it is not likely that a raccoon could kill the average adult due to their size, they really don’t need to do much. Many raccoons carry several diseases, including things like rabies and a slew of other harmful bacteria. In spite of this, it is still pretty unlikely that a raccoon will kill a human. Yet due to the rate at which they are becoming more comfortable with humans, some feel that they are slowly becoming one of the deadliest animals in the United States each day.
In the United States of America, it is possible that pretty much everyone has come across a Black Widow Spider at some point in their life if they have reached 18-years-old. This does not mean you were bitten by one but it is very common to randomly come across them. They are spread out all over the place but mostly tend to be on the East and West coastline areas as well as the Southern United States. Each year, roughly 2,200 people report being bitten by the Black Widow.
They tend to usually send venom with each bite but sometimes they will do a dry bite or one without any venom. Black Widows have a form of latrotoxin as part of their venom, which is a neurotoxin. Traditionally, this comes with a lot of pain and often a good bit of swelling. Yet since 1983, no deaths have been reported by way of a Black Widow bite. This is likely due to the immediate medical treatment one can get. However, people can still die from their bite due to an allergy.
The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake is a lot like its western cousin. It is often more aggressive than its cousin, making it more likely to attack humans without as much or any warning. Most attacks tend to happen in rural areas, especially in states like North Carolina and Florida. While they are a bit more aggressive, this is likely due to not being around people as often as other snakes. Since they do not always live among people, the Eastern Diamondback sees them less.
As a result, they do not tend to consider humans to be a different threat over any other animal. Thus, most attacks are often in defense, such as when they feel threatened. They also might get startled and bite out of defense without rattling first as its initial defensive mechanism. Since a lot of snakes bite when stepped on, this can happen at random before they can warn an animal or human. There are very few fatalities to snakebites in America, but the Eastern Diamondback is still capable of killing if a person goes untreated after a bite. This makes it one of the deadliest animals in the United States.
Depending on where you’re from in the United States, you will call this animal a Puma, Cougar, or Mountain Lion. They do tend to be found mostly in the Southern United States. Yet they also navigate up north a bit too. With climate change affecting the temperature, animals like this are more open to moving to traditionally cooler environments for food. They are naturally afraid of human beings, which is why attacks are pretty rare. When they do attack humans, they will injure but don’t always kill.
Due to the separation between humans and cougars, we’re more than likely not going to come across them unless we head literally into “their neck of the woods.” Over the past 100 years, there have been a “documented” 125 attacks with 27 of those being fatal. The reason for this lower number might be due to lone cougars rarely coming across a lone hiker versus a group of them. They are not willing to attack groups for obvious reasons. As humans, we know this, so attacks are rare. However, the potential for problems is clearly present and that makes them pretty deadly.
The American Alligator has become sort of a symbol of this country at times, due to it being specifically OUR creature. That “American” part shouldn’t be overlooked, right? That said, most people are not dumb enough to go after an alligator. They tend to like swampy areas, often in the Southern United States. This is why the highest population tends to be in Florida, as well as lower Louisiana and Alabama. They also pop up in the Carolinas a bit too.
They’re commonly not going to be living near humans in the wild. This means you’re unlikely to be attacked by an alligator in America unless you go to their home. More often than not, hotels or golf courses built near alligator territory have been the most common places alligators killed humans. They attack anything they see as prey, so there are roughly 20 to 50 attacks annually. Yet there are less than 2 deaths. 13 happens in the 2000s, 7 in the 2010s, and only 1 so far in the 2020s.
Coral snakes are often confused for King Snakes in America due to having a similar pattern. Just remember “red and yellow, kill a fellow.” However, it would be foolish to just randomly get close to or handle either snake. Coral snakes actually have venom that is on the same level as the King Cobra. A bite from this snake could potentially kill a person in less than a few hours if left untreated. Of course, their color makes them stand out well but they are rarely around humans.
In spite of this, there are around 100 coral snake attacks each year. Over 70% of those happen in Florida, where the snake is found the most. In spite of the incredible strength of their venom and attack rate annually, they do not kill many humans. The reason for this is likely due to most areas in the United States having some sort of medical facility within a proper driving distance. On top of the antivenom, of course. They are among the deadliest animals in the United States but kill less than 5 people annually.
Due to where Coyotes tend to live in the United States, they are not going to come across humans as often. Yet this is becoming less true as more land is taken up by developers. Which takes potential land away from coyotes and other animals nationwide. Coyote attacks were not too uncommon about a hundred years ago as the country still had a lot of rural areas, where coyotes lived among humans. Today, you will see them less due to most living in developed areas more often.
Since the 1970s, attacks went down drastically. From 1970 to 2020, about 500 documented attacks took place. Of those, the highest rate of human attacks occurred on children and toddlers. This is simply due to their smaller size and likelihood of not being able to fight back. Due to the lowered amount of attacks, this means their death average is pretty small. In fact, there are very few documented coyote-related deaths. However, a pack is still quite dangerous and can kill even a full-grown adult.
Cattle tends to usually be pretty tame around humans, but this is not always the case. When it comes to Bulls, humans have been using them in sport for hundreds of years. In Spain, they have often been antagonized by Matadors. These men have taken part in a form of bullfighting since the 1700s. While the practice happens a bit in Mexico too, it began and grew to popularity in Spain. In the United States, however, we had the “bright” idea to try and ride these 1,500-pound beasts.
Bulls tend to be very territorial and often aggressive, especially when startled. This causes them to chase humans, making the Matador job deadly. Yet in the rodeo, riding bulls became a sport in America that also caused severe injuries and deaths annually to humans. Antagonizing these bulls are the very reason for about 99% of all bull attacks nationwide each year. While humans are the main problem here, bulls do still rank as one of the deadliest animals in the United States
Brown Recluse Spiders are called what they are for a reason. The “recluse” side is real, and it’s more likely that they will stay away from humans than to randomly attack. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers 2014 to 2019 reports, they tend to bite around 1,330 people when averaged out across those years. The most common reason for a bite was usually a person being in a rural area and accidentally entering the Brown Recluse’s territory.
While humans likely do this far more than they realize, they might not get bitten each time. A lot of the time, the Brown Recluse is going to leave you be. Yet if startled or threatened, they will bite. The problem with this is that you might not notice their bite right away. It takes a while, with swelling at the bite spot being the first sign most see. Deaths are not very common from this spider due to how long it takes their poison to act. Plus, most adults might not need any treatment to help. Children and the elderly are the most likely to die from a bite, but all should go to the hospital just in case.
Like Coyotes, Wolves do not tend to choose to attack humans as much as people think. In fact, they are actually more likely to attack your dog or cat than you. On top of this, there are more wolf attacks in Canada where they have also killed more people too. This means if you’re in the upper United States, you’ll have more to fear based on this data. Wolf attacks have dropped drastically all over North America in the last 100 years, however.
This is due to the obvious expansion of cities in and around many areas wolves might normally live. Wolves sometimes will even act a lot like house dogs and might even become human pets. In fact, most wolf attacks usually happen with captive wolves over wild ones. Rabid wolves are the next most likely to attack humans. Therefore, they might be among the deadliest animals in the United States, but most wild wolves won’t go after humans. Even wolf packs steer clear. Wild wolves might still attack humans if very hungry or if they feel threatened, so never feel ultimately safe around them.
Attacks Per Year:Only 442 Attacks In 187-Year Period
Deaths Per Year:5 to 7
Wild Boar tend to be more common in the Southern United States. However, they do navigate across random territories in the East and West coast of the country too. It is pretty rare that these boars, or “hogs” as some call them, will actually attack a human being at random. Typically, they will only attack when they feel threatened. This is why it has been reported by Texas A&M University that there have only been about 442 attacks recorded in a 187-year period.
Therefore, for nearly 200 years, the attacks have been minimal. Most of the time, we humans are the ones causing the attacks as it is. This is also why there is a recorded 5 to 7 deaths at the hoves at wild boars annually. Typically, this does not happen with just one boar but a group of them instead. This means that boars are more likely to attack when in a group rather than when alone. That said, this does make them one of the deadliest animals in the United States, in spite of the low attack rate.
It’s a bit unfair that we put the Portuguese Man O’ War on this list, as it’s in the ocean and therefore not “technically” part of any single nation. Yet these little guys do love to hang out in and around American coastlines for some reason. They are more common in Australia, where they sting about 10,000 people per year. They sting fewer Americans, however. It is tough to get a perfect average sting rate, sadly. Deaths from their sting do happen but it’s not all that common these days.
It used to be that people mistook them for jellyfish and treated their stings the same way. They are actually a form of siphonophore, but like jellyfish, their sting can be incredibly painful and potentially deadly. The Man O’War seems to have a more powerful venom per sting, so it would take fewer stings to kill a human than from a normal jellyfish. Usually, severe pain comes for a few hours and that’s it. Death tends to happen when a person is allergic or if they are stung repeatedly. Therefore, their death total is pretty low worldwide.
Worldwide, scorpions are not known for killing thousands of people. Rather, they are known mostly for attacking humans and causing them severe pain. However, they can and have killed. Perhaps one of the deadliest on the planet happens to be in our own backyard, the Arizona Bark Scorpion. In spite of their name, they have attacked and killed more people in Mexico than in the United States. We’re not saying this scorpion is racist but draw your own conclusions.
In the 1980s, they averaged 100,000 attacks and 800 deaths annually there. That said, you’re better off being stung in Arizona than Mexico. Their venom is incredibly potent, among the best for all scorpions worldwide. This is why they kill around 4 to 8 people in America each year. Attacks have been minimalized, but at least a few thousand still happen. A rise even occurred in the middle of 2020. Due to their threat alone, they are among the deadliest animals in the United States for sure.
While “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin died via a stingray attack, it was not so much the sting that got him. Rather, it was the sharp barb, which pierced his chest. This made many fear stingrays a lot, even though they rarely kill humans annually. In the United States, stingrays average about 1,500 attacks on humans per year. In spite of this high attack rate, there are less than 20 deaths reported from an encounter with a stingray. Their sting is quite painful as it does have some venom to it.
The real thing to fear is the barb, which tends to easily jam into our skin. Typically, people are usually hit by this in their leg or arm. Due to their potential to harm people, stingray experts will tell you to avoid them if possible. This is especially true of the larger versions, as they will have a much larger barb that will be more than capable of killing you. Since attacks are common, they are among the deadliest animals in the United States without question. We must respect their potential for damage.
Usually, horses get along quite well with humans. Due to the fact that most horse breeds in the United States are fully in captivity, there not as many “wild” horses as there used to be. This is one big reason most horses are great with human beings most of the time. However, deaths due to horses are not uncommon at all. Again, this is mostly due to how often they are around humans compared to most animals on this list. If you’re around us more, there is a larger chance an attack will happen.
Mostly, horse attacks tend to be accidental. They do not like it when you startle them and if you’re behind them, some will kick their back legs on instinct. Other times, they might not be great at being ridden by a human and will throw them off. This is why horses account for about 20 deaths per year in America. The highest rate of death tends to happen in Equestrian and Rodeo-related events or practices. All of this makes them one of the deadliest animals in the United States.
The American Bison or Buffalo has lived alongside or around humans for hundreds of years. This is especially true of the Mid-Western and Central United States, where they lived among Native Americans for potentially thousands of years. This is why they seem to tolerate the presence of people, especially if they are not armed or trying to come after them. Experts say to stay at least 15 to 20 feet away from them at all times, and they likely won’t care that you’re there.
If this boundary is passed, they become territorial and aggressive. Many people do not realize this, which leads to bison attacking humans across the United States each year. They seem to be the most aggressive around Yellowstone National Park, where they injure more people annually than any other animal. They’ll even walk in the middle of roads and come up to cars as well. They rank among the deadliest animals in the United States due to this. However, while they do attack a lot, they do not kill as many. Their attacks are often meant as warnings and will gore people less than headbutting them.
Snakebites in the United States are rarely fatal due to antivenom that tends to be at every Emergency Room and even most normal clinics. Especially those in rural areas where snakes might commonly show up. One of the most common snakes a person might run into is the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. They are poor climbers and tend to hang around on the ground, often blending in with their surroundings. This is pretty much how humans come across them.
We might step on one accidentally. If they see a human coming, they will rattle as a warning. If you stay away, you’re good, but if you don’t, they will attack in defense. They also stand their ground against humans and don’t just slither away, making them even more dangerous. They rank among the deadliest animals in the United States because their venom can easily kill a person. It will usually take several hours, however. In just Arizona, there are 350 snakebites annually and this rattlesnake makes up most of those as well as most of the snakebite deaths.
Bears are found in multiple areas around the United States. Depending on your location, you might see a normal Brown Bear, Black Bear, and sometimes in a rare case, a Polar Bear. In North America, you’re unlikely to ever be attacked by a bear unless you go into their territory and cause problems. Some bears are not all that aggressive while others are. Typically, Brown Bears will leave you alone even if you’re in their eye-line.
Black Bears tend to be a little more aggressive and territorial. They are also slightly better runners and, while they still weigh several hundreds of pounds, still weigh less than most Brown Bears. That gives them more freedom to chase humans along with other animals down. While bears do not tend to choose humans for their next meal nor do they love attacking them, the reason they do attack is almost always out of threat or self-defense. Don’t put them in either position and you’ll be fine.
On both coasts and even around the Gulf of Mexico, shark attacks happen every single year. Since humans do not often get in the water year-round on the Eastern section of the country, most attacks tend to happen on the West Coast. We’re in the ocean more there, so it makes sense. There are roughly 25 to 40 shark attacks each year in the United States, with most of them being unprovoked. This means that a shark went after a human just because or they were simply hungry.
Others are provoked, meaning we were putting the shark in a defensive position and it attacked as a result. In spite of the attack rate, they kill less than 5 people annually. Most of the time, however, they’ll bite large chunks or full limbs off though. On top of this, the most common attacks happen to surfers than any other. Often due to surfers appearing like a manatee from the shark’s point of view. Sharks are killers and clearly one of the deadliest animals in the United States.
You might not realize it, but Cows can be cold-blooded killers. To be fair, it’s not like we humans treat them any better, right? In any case, cows do not usually attack humans. When they do, it’s often out of fear or threat. Sometimes it might happen if they are attacked first. The most common issue might occur when milking a cow, where they might kick a person if they milk them in a bad way. In spite of all of these particular issues, the most dangerous cow is one that happens to be protecting its calf.
Studies have shown mother cows of newborn calves will attack humans or other creatures for little to no reason. This might be due to a hormonal imbalance. Yet others believe it’s instinct on behalf of the mother cow, where she protects her child from anything that can resemble a threat. There are dozens of cow attacks every year and up to 22 deaths annually from them on average! Although weird, these usually docile creatures are among the deadliest animals in the United States.
While it would be wrong to say that a tapeworm “attacks” a human being or another animal, they kinda do. They find their way into a living creature’s body either from water or meat that they consume. Your dog might have often been infected with “worms” in its life. Yet humans are not much different. You’d assume that this would be an issue in less-developed nations or for possibly tribal people in South America and Africa.
However, tapeworms affect around 1,000 people in just the United States every single year. On top of this, tapeworms can kill a human being too. The National Institutes of Health wanted to see how the problem affected Americans. Which pushed them to conduct a 13-year study from 1990 to 2002. In that time, they recorded 221 deaths confirmed to be related to tapeworms. That is an average of 17 per year! While they are not normal animals, tapeworms are clearly one of the deadliest animals in the United States today!
While we could have picked any single one of these, they all involve the same method of affecting humans, their sting. More often than not, they do not randomly attack humans. It’s usually out of threat or assumed invasion. The problem is that some like to build nests around homes, which is where humans come across them the most. There are times that they will be in woodland areas and humans might come across them there too.
In fact, that is where the biggest threat tends to be, as there tend to be much larger nests in those areas. That results in multiple stings rather than just one or two from an experience one might have around their residence. Deaths to humans can happen more often when they are stung repeatedly like this. Of course, those allergic to their venom can die from it too. The CDC reports that from 2000 to 2017, they found that 1,109 people died from these stings in America, which is around 65 annually. Making them some of the deadliest animals in the United States.
When we reference “Dogs,” we’re specifically referencing your common dog in America. This does not equate to other dog species outside the United States, like the Wild Dogs of Africa. They are said to be “man’s best friend,” but dogs are not always going to get along with humans. They bite sometimes by accident, other times due to being threatened. There are also times when they are infected with rabies and attack as a result. Considering that messes with their mind, it makes sense.
There are thousands of dogs all over the country, both on the street and in homes. Thus, there is a much larger chance that someone will be attacked by a dog versus most other animals. The CDC reports that there are at least 4.7 million dog bites reported annually in America. This might not be considered an “attack,” so we’ll adjust for that and say violent attacks happen in the hundreds of thousands. Out of all those attacks, around 17 are fatal. Making dogs one of the deadliest animals in the United States.
Attacks by deer are not rare but also not commonplace. Truly, even the most alpha Buck will more likely run away from a human than actually attack them. However, straight-up attacks do still happen. Due to humans moving closer and closer into regular deer habitats, they have been forced to adjust to living around us. That is often why an attack would even happen at all, otherwise, humans would rarely ever come across one.
While straight-up attacks are not massive, deer actually do kill more humans every year than most of the animals on this list combined. Remember that close proximity issue? Due to this, deer often run out in the middle of roads. For our part as humans, we try to avoid them and that can lead to bad and/or fatal car accidents. We might even hit the deer, then still die from the crash that can cause. They are responsible for around 120 to 200 human deaths annually, and several million dollars worth of property damage.