Polar bear

Polar bear, one of the world's most dangerous animals
Polar bear. © Rebecca R Jackrel/Getty

Given the chance, polar bears will attack and kill people – to a hungry bear, a human is just a Goretex-clad, vertical seal. But opportunities are rare, and they are easily scared away.


Slow loris

Nocturnal Slow loris in Thailand, a rare example of a venomous mammal
Nocturnal slow loris in Thailand. © kayjornyot/Getty

Poisons and venoms are rare in the mammal world, but the slow loris is an exception. Its bite is so venomous that it can kill a human – and there is no cure.


Sloth bear

Sloth bear lying in bushes. Bears are some of the most dangerous mammals
Sloth bear lying in bushes. © Nicholas Dale/Getty

Sloth bears don’t want to eat you (they prefer ants), but they will attack humans during chance encounters. In one area of India, 11 people were killed by sloth bears in just 30 months.



Asian wild elephant in Kuiburi National Park, Thailand © sittitap / Getty
Asian wild elephant in Kuiburi National Park, Thailand. © sittitap/Getty

Large mammals are dangerous when they clash with humans over access to resources, such as crops. In India, up to 300 people (and 200 elephants) die each year as a result of such conflicts, making them one of the most dangerous land animals in the world.


Domestic dog

Aggressive black smooth-haired dachshund © Alexandr Shevchenko / Getty
Aggressive black smooth-haired dachshund. © Alexandr Shevchenko/Getty

According to government figures, more than 6,500 people seek treatment for dog bites every year, and children are especially vulnerable.


Mule deer

Mule deer buck © Matt Dirksen / Getty
Mule deer buck. © Matt Dirksen/Getty

If you live in British Columbia, Canada, slow down! There are nearly 10,000 collisions between vehicles and wildlife every year, most of which involve deer. And hitting a deer could write off your car and possibly injure or even kill you if it goes through your windscreen.


Domestic cat

Domestic cat © Konstantin Aksenov / Getty
Domestic cat. © Konstantin Aksenov/Getty

About 75 per cent of domestic cats in the USA carry Toxoplasmosis. The extent to which they give it to people is unclear, but impacts on humans include blindness, deafness and mental impairment. Could our favourite furry friends actually be some of the most dangerous mammals in the world?


These wildlife facts originally appeared in BBC Wildlife Magazine's Big Book of Mammals.


James FairWildlife journalist