The Most Terrifying Animals In Australia And The Cutest Ones

Australia is known for being home to some of the world’s most interesting wildlife, especially the animals that have a high chance of killing you. However, they also have some adorable, unique animals roaming the “land down under” as well.

These are some of the most frightening animals to avoid while in Australia as well as the cutest ones you’ll want to meet.

Terrifying: Taipan Snake

Close-up of a Western taipan
Photo Credit: DEA / C.DANI / I.JESKE / De Agostini via Getty Images
Photo Credit: DEA / C.DANI / I.JESKE / De Agostini via Getty Images

Naturally, the most venomous snake in the world is indigenous to the Australian desert. Luckily, the taipan snake doesn’t tend to fight humans, and most people who are subjected to their venom don’t die because of treatment with antivenom—but they have a very unpleasant experience.

Cute: Sugar Glider

A sugar glider is displayed in the Pocket Pets booth during Wizard World Las Vegas
Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gabe Ginsberg / Getty Images

This relative of the possum couldn’t get any cuter. These tiny animals—they only weigh about four ounces!—get their name due to their love of eating sugar and the membranes between their forelegs and back legs that let them glide from tree to tree.

Terrifying: Box Jellyfish

box jellyfish on black background
Photo Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

The box jellyfish is known for being one of the most toxic animals on the planet, with venom containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin; a touch from its stingers can kill a human who is not quickly treated.

Cute: Wombat

A wildlife caregiver holds an orphaned wombat at the Native Wildlife Rescue center
Photo Credit: John Moore / Getty Images
Photo Credit: John Moore / Getty Images

These round, fluffy marsupials look like they were made to be cuddled. Wombats are mostly found waddling around wooded areas of southeastern Australia. It’s not hard to spot their habitats, which are marked by their distinctive cube-shaped poo scattered in the bushes.

Terrifying: Saltwater Crocodile

A Saltwater Crocodile is pictured at the Australian Reptile Park
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

The saltwater crocodile is the world’s largest reptiles as well as one of Australia’s deadliest animals. It’s actually the only wild animal on the continent that actively hunts human beings who stray into its territory.

Cute: Quokka

quokka (rabbit-sized brown animal) looking up at camera
Photo Credit: Olivier CHOUCHANA / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Olivier CHOUCHANA / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

These furry creatures can be found in the southwest corner of Western Australia, with most living on Rottnest Island. Due to the lack of predators in their natural habitat, quokkas are unafraid to approach humans and they even pose for selfies.

Terrifying: Redback Spider

black spider with red dot on back
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

A close relative to the American black widow spider, the redback is probably Australia’s best-known deadly spider. Only the female redback is considered dangerous: her venom contains neurotoxins that slowly engulf the whole body in pain. Fatalities, even from untreated bites, are rare since an antivenom was created in 1956.

Cute: Koala

An eight month old koala joey eats a eucalyptus leaf at Taronga Zoo
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images

These tree-clinging, eucalyptus-munching animals with fluffy ears are some of the cutest in the world. Koalas aren’t actually bears—they’re marsupials—and they live in forests along the southern and eastern coasts of the country. Don’t let their cute looks fool you, though: almost 50% of the species has chlamydia.

Terrifying: Stonefish

red stonefish camouflaged into reef bottom
Photo Credit: Wild Horizons / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Wild Horizons / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Dangerously venomous and even fatal to humans, the stonefish is very hard to see because it usually lies motionless while camouflaging amongst the coral and the sea bed. They are found throughout shallow coastal waters of the northern half of Australia, so watch your step!

Cute: Sea Lion

Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea), Otariidae, Kangaroo Island, Australia
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images
Photo Credit: DeAgostini / Getty Images

The Australian sea lion is a species of sea lion native to the waterways surrounding the country. At Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island, you can find a colony of around 1,000 sea lions—the third largest colony of sea lions in the world!

Terrifying: Great White Shark

great white shark swimming toward camera
Photo Credit: Brad Leue / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Brad Leue / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The great white shark is a famous predator, but Hollywood has made it seem a little more dangerous animal than it is in reality. In fact, there are about five human deaths from shark attacks annually. Just stay out of their way and they’ll mind their business.

Cute: Platypus

A keeper at Taronga Zoo holds a baby platypus, known as a puggle
Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

When British biologist George Shaw first saw a platypus in 1799, he didn’t believe it was real and even used a pair of scissors to examine if a taxidermist had sewn a duck’s bill onto a beaver’s body. These semi-aquatic cuties are very real and very unique mammals who lay eggs.

Terrifying: Cassowary

cassowary
Photo Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It should be no surprise that you should fear this bird since it looks like a dinosaur. The cassowary is a large, flightless bird that lives in northeastern Australia. When it feels threatened, it will attack a human’s abdomen, using its sharp claws to disembowel them.

Cute: Bilby

A bilby in the Bilby Enclosure at Taronga Zoo
Photo Credit: Chris Jackson / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Chris Jackson / Getty Images

These adorable pointy-nosed marsupials are native to the deserts of central Australia and are about the size of a rabbit. They don’t have very good eyesight, so they rely on smell and sound to find food and stay safe from predators. Unfortunately, they are an endangered species.

Terrifying: Blue-Ringed Octopus

Poisonous Blue Ring Octopus swimming
Photo Credit: Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild via Getty Images

This beautiful sea creature is wonderful to look at, but you shouldn’t touch it. A sting from a blue-ringed octopus is often fatal, increasingly paralyzing the body until breathing is no longer possible. There’s no known antivenom, so the treatment is to help the patient breathe until the toxin is removed from their system.

Cute: Echidna

Echidna, Australian animal
Photo Credit: John van Hasselt / Sygma via Getty Images
Photo Credit: John van Hasselt / Sygma via Getty Images

These little guys might be covered in sharp spikes, but I still want to hug them. The echidna is Australia’s most widespread native mammals, and like the platypus, it is one of the few mammals that lays eggs.

Terrifying: Death Adder Snake

Desert death adder
Photo Credit: Auscape / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Auscape / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Naturally, anything with the name “death adder” should send you running. Living in the Sydney bushlands and the grasslands along Australia’s eastern coast, these snakes pack a venomous bite. Luckily, most people are able to survive the venom despite experiencing symptoms of excruciating pain, numbness, respiratory difficulty, impaired motor/sensory functions, paralysis, drowsiness, and swollen lymph nodes.

Cute: Tree Kangaroo

Simbu the tree kangaroo settles in at the National Zoo & Aquarium
Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

They’re not just kangaroos that wandered into the woods; the tree-kangaroo is its own distinct arboreal species, native to the rainforests of tropical Far North Queensland. There are 14 known subspecies of tree-kangaroo, but unfortunately, the population is in decline due to hunting and deforestation.

Terrifying: Sydney Funnel-Web Spider

A Funnel Web spider is pictured at the Australian Reptile Park
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ian Waldie / Getty Images

This spider is small but still dangerous. It loves to hide in cool, humid places—including under rocks, logs, or in your shoes. The bite of a Sydney funnel-web spider is very painful and potentially deadly, but antivenom exists.

Cute: Wallaby

'Petra', a Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby joey, peers into the lens of a camera at Sydney's Taronga Zoo
Photo Credit: GREG WOOD / AFP via Getty Images
Photo Credit: GREG WOOD / AFP via Getty Images

Granted the wallaby photographed here is a joey (baby), wallabies are definitely adorable. At one point called “bush-kangaroos,” the wallaby is a closely related species, noted for being smaller than kangaroos and therefore, scientifically speaking, more adorable.