The surprisingly deadly animal that kills more Australians than any other

Australia has a fearsome reputation for hosting some of the world’s deadliest, most venomous and most ferocious predators. The island nation is home to the world’s deadliest species of sharks, spiders, snakes and jellyfish. But the animal that causes the most human deaths may seem like the least fearsome of all.



The eastern brown snake was responsible for most of these deaths, followed by its front-fanged cousins the tiger snake, death adder and mulga. The development of potent antivenom saved more than 6,000 people admitted to hospitals over the same period.

Hidden above door frames and backyard webs across the country, spiders continue to evoke fear in even the most hardened Australians. In fact, eight-legged critters didn’t kill a single Australian from 2000 to 2010 despite nearly 12,000 hospitalisations from spider bites.

Shark attacks resulting in death account for less than two people on average a year, with 16 deaths between 2000 and 2010.

Crocodile Dundee may have made Australia’s abundance of crocodiles famous on the world map, but only nine people have suffered a death by crocodile attack.

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Of the 254 animal-related deaths found in the Coroner’s Report over a ten-year period, horses were responsible for the overwhelming majority of fatalities. Most of the 77 deaths were the result of falls – more than snakes and sharks combined. 

The innocuous cow made second on the list, accounting for 33 deaths, 16 of which were the result of motor vehicle accidents and the rest by crushing, piercing or ‘unknown’ reasons. The third biggest killer, the domestic dog, resulted in 27 deaths from 2000 to 2010 – the majority of which were the result of attacks.


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