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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.