Share on Facebook

15 Innocent-Looking Animals That Are Surprisingly Dangerous

You might not think so, but these cute animals can actually be extremely dangerous—and in some cases, quite deadly.

Three giant pandas has lunch, Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Xiongmao Jidi), Chengdu, ChinaKarel Cerny/Shutterstock

Panda Bears

These fluffy black and white bears are one of the most adorable mammals. For the most part, pandas are pretty easy going and just eat bamboo most of the day, however, if they feel threatened they can be extremely dangerous. They can use their physical strength, strong jaws, and teeth to do a lot of damage. You’ve probably been getting these animal “facts” wrong your whole life.

European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, on a green moss at the forest, photo with wide angle. Hedgehog in dark wood, autumn image.Cute funny animal with snipes. Orange autumn leaves with hedgehog Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Hedgehogs

Thinking of hedgehogs as dangerous may come as a surprise since a lot of people have them as household pets. But, their spikes can be very damaging to human skin or anything else that could be a potential predator. When a hedgehog feels safe, its spikes lay flat, allowing humans to pick them up and play with them. When they feel threatened, their spikes extend up vertically as it curls itself into a ball for protection.

Beautiful white swan with the family in swan lake, romance, seasonal postcard, selective focusOrwald/Shutterstock

Swans

Swans are known for being graceful, delicate birds. But, if you try to mess with their babies, they will come at you. When they feel threatened, swans will raise their wings and hiss, snort, grunt, and flap to get you to go away. It’s unlikely they could do any serious damage to a human, but you don’t want to try. When you’re not avoiding swans, beware of water mocassins. Snake bites can do more damage than you think.

polar bear mother and cub along ice floe in arctic ocean above norway's svalbard islandsFloridaStock/Shutterstock

Polar Bears

Yes, polar bears are very cute, but also remember that they’re still bears. The polar bear is the largest carnivore in North America. They don’t fear humans so people tend to get comfortable around them, which can be very dangerous.

common barn owl ( Tyto albahead ) head close upAnan Kaewkhammul/Shutterstock

Owls

Owls only come out at night, so the most they have probably ever done to you is disturbed your deep sleep with a few hoots. They typically only attack their prey with their large, sharp talons, but if they are protecting their nest or are starving, they aren’t afraid to come after humans. Newsweek reported that due to the cold weather in Atlanta Georgia, owls have been attacking humans and dogs. The food the typically eat—mice and rats—were dying due to the temperature so they were going after whatever they could.

Slow Loris monkey on tree with green leaf as background. Slow lorises often hang upside-down from branches by their feet so they can use both hands to eat.hkhtt hj/Shutterstock

Slow Loris

The slow loris’ wide eyes make it the most innocent looking and adorable animal ever. But beware—this cuddly looking creature is actually poisonous. They have a small gland on the side of their elbow that will secrete poison when they are disturbed. Find out about these immortal animals that can basically live forever.

Big brothers2630ben/Shutterstock

Elephants

Elephants are sometimes gentle giants, but if you make them mad they aren’t afraid to use their huge bodies and powerful trunks against you. With the populations continuing to grow, elephants have been harassed and pushed into smaller places and they don’t like it. Around 500 people are killed by elephant attacks every year.

Red Kangaroo standing up in grasslands in the Australian OutbackLuke Shelley/Shutterstock

Kangaroos

These cute Australian animals normally don’t go looking for trouble. But if provoked, that can do some real damage. They can punch with their arms and their legs can be extremely powerful when used to kick their predator.

Blowfish or diodon holocanthus underwater in ocean in tropical destinationBeth Swanson/Shutterstock

Pufferfish

Pufferfish are one of the most poisonous vertebrates on the planet. They inflate their bodies to protect themselves and in doing so release tetrodotoxin. This poison can be lethal to other fish and is deadly to humans. There’s enough poison in one pufferfish to kill 30 humans. Don’t miss the smartest animal species around.

Wild Moose Grazing the Mountains of Colorado ||Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward, CO [Colorado Wildlife]Michael Liggett/Shutterstock

Moose

It’s not that surprising that these giant creatures can be dangerous. When they feel threatened, they aggressively charge at humans causing serious injury and sometimes death. In fact, moose kill more humans every year in Alaska than bears.

Giant Anteater digging into stumpJ. Allen Frame/Shutterstock

Giant Anteater

Anteaters look innocent but they have very strong claws that can disembowel a human. They have bad eyesight and hearing and no teeth, but they can still be deadly.

A young Red deer stag.Andrew Swinbank/Shutterstock

Deer

Deer have been known to charge at humans, especially male deer. Since deer live in such close proximity to humans, they aren’t scared of them and have become more aggressive. If you’re an animal lover, check out these adorable animal pictures.

Leopard seal on ice flow in AntarcticaAchim Baque/Shutterstock

Leopard seal

If you’ve ever seen the movie Happy Feet, you know this to be true: you definitely don’t want to get caught up in the water with a leopard seal. They mainly prey on penguins but have been known to go after humans as well.

Tasmania , platypus eating wormJohn Carnemolla/Shutterstock

Platypuses

Platypuses have long, hollow spurs in their back legs that secret poison. When they are ready to attack, the spurs go from lying flat to standing straight up. The spurs don’t kill but can cause a fall in blood pressure, pain, and increased blood flow around the wound.

Underwater photo of The Catfish (Silurus Glanis). Biggest predatory fish in European lakes and river. Kletr/Shutterstock

Catfish

If you ever encounter a catfish, you’ll want to stay far away. It’s not likely that they’ll sting you, but if they do it can lead to nausea, swelling, and, in extreme cases, a need for amputation. Next, learn about the animal species you had no idea were endangered.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.