Cute but deadly: 8 adorable animals that are surprisingly dangerous
Please don’t pet any animals before reading this, we warned you...
We love animals. But, quite frankly, we may love them a little too much. We converse with them, we obsess over them and we're on a never-ending quest to humanize them, including everything from putting them in fedoras to giving them their own Instagram accounts. In all the adoration, we often forget one crucial fact; animals are inherently protective and can be dangerous. Sure, we all know not to go near a cobra, but we often neglect to realize even our most beloved beasts can have some ferocious features. So before you get close to some cute creatures, here's what you need to know.
We not only love the beaver, we've gone so far as to make it one of our national symbols, much to the confusion of the rest of the world. It's certainly not as majestic or imposing as the eagle, but make no mistake, the beaver is a smart, complex and potentially dangerous animal. As the world's second largest rodent, the beaver can be quite territorial (you would be too, if you built your own home). To ward off intruders and let them know this dam is occupied, beavers make mounds of mud and mark them with their own musk (located in glands near their anus). Though not known to be aggressive towards humans, changing landscapes have forced beavers to protect themselves with their ever-growing, ultra-sharp teeth, like in Belarus, where one man died from beaver bite wounds!
Who doesn't love a dolphin? Whether we're fawning over Flipper or buying Lisa Frank folders, dolphins are the aquatic symbol of happiness and joy (probably because their mouths are constantly in the shape of a smile). They are incredibly smart, curious, communicative creatures, and they are so often used to play with the public that it's easy to forget they can act otherwise. By and large dolphins seem friendly enough, but mounting evidence reminds us how dangerous they can be. Dolphins have been reported to use their beaks and sharp teeth to bludgeon, bite and kill creatures like the porpoise and even their own infants as well as humans who have overstepped their boundaries in the wild. While these instances are comparatively rare, it's crucial to remember that even these creatures can exhibit the wildest of tendencies.
How dangerous can a critter be that skittishly avoids humans and the mere sight of it eating has maximal viral potential? Being potential prey to a lot of predators means the squirrel has quite a few tenacious defense mechanisms; including their quickness and agility. In California, where rattlesnakes are frequent predators, the squirrel has been known to develop immunity to their venom, bite them back then heat up and enlarge their tales, making the infrared-sensing snakes think there's a larger foe in front of them. But the most dangerous squirrels are the truly wild and rabid ones, capable of biting humans and, in one horrifying incident in Russia, a pack of squirrels killed and picked apart a stray dog.
If they're gliding on a lake, they're elegantly beautiful. But as more lakes get surrounded by human development and the swans are forced to share the lakes with humans, they can certainly get aggressive. Their territorial feathers get ruffled during the spring nesting season (April to June), when the male swans are most protective of their nests. If you've ever gotten too close to a swan, you know their hissing and posture has an immediate about face and they are more likely to swat away with their large wings (that can span over 2 metres) than they are to bite. Last year, a model boating group in England was bullied out of the water when a particularly surly swan repeatedly attacked and sank their priceless seagoing vessels. Even more shockingly, in 2012, a Chicago man drowned after a swan attacked his kayak so hard that it actually capsized.
So yeah, basically all of Canada's symbolic animals can be dangerous (we think the moose speaks for itself). Similar to the swan, geese are defensive of their territory, but their propensity to wander into different locations has definitely boosted their confrontation skills. In the above clip, a geese can be seen standing up to a gorilla at a Kansas zoo, while the University Of Waterloo even has a goose watch website, to avoid being terrorized by the bullish birds.
Another beloved animal in popular culture, many see the deer as either skittishly darting away from being seen or falling prey to a hunter. What we often forget is just how large, fast and powerful this species truly is. In fact, last year, the deer was ranked as the deadliest animal in America, responsible for an average of 120 human deaths per year (the bear killed an average of one person), with most being from auto collisions, a problem that only increases as humans continue to encroach on their land. In rare instances (like recently in B.C.), when they are completely out of their habitat, deer have lashed out aggressively at their surroundings, attacking humans and dogs, though it's believed that they're simply striving to protect their fawns.
You'd think an animal that feeds on ants and termites can't be that aggressive and you'd be right. But just because it's not normally aggressive, doesn't mean the anteater doesn't have some ferocious defenses up its sleeve. The anteater's body can measure up to 125 cm, which looks far larger when it raises upright on its tail and hind legs. Anteaters are known to protect themselves by slashing with their 10cm long claws and since that method is good enough to ward off pumas and jaguars, you can only imagine what it could do to a human.
Canadian cities have always had a tumultuous relationship with raccoons; on one hand they can be adorably mischievous but they can also be the epitome of a pest. They are incredibly smart, agile and capable animals - and their variety of abilities only seem to give them more confidence wherever they roam. Firstly, they are inclined to destroy your property, rummaging through whatever is around them until they are satisfied. Then, when in attack mode, their incredibly pointy teeth and sharp claws are strong enough to kill smaller pets and certainly cause harm to humans. But most dangerous is the host of diseases they can carry that can be easily passed onto humans they encounter, requiring a swift visit to the emergency room and a slew of shots to keep you safe. While normal raccoons are dangerous enough, rabid raccoons are near-horrifying; a Washington woman was mauled by a pack of raccoons, leaving severe wounds and scars, while a Maine jogger had a standoff encounter that ended in a fight to the death.