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Most Dangerous Animals in Florida: Top 10

Updated on October 21, 2016
PaulGoodman67 profile image

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.


Joined: 5 years agoFollowers: 499Articles: 58
Alligator in Lake Alice, Gainesville, Florida.  Alligators have an exceptionally powerful bite.  They are naturally fairly timid by nature, however, especially when compared with crocodiles, which tend to be more aggressive towards humans.
Alligator in Lake Alice, Gainesville, Florida. Alligators have an exceptionally powerful bite. They are naturally fairly timid by nature, however, especially when compared with crocodiles, which tend to be more aggressive towards humans. | Source

There are numerous animals that are capable of causing you harm in Florida, usually by biting you. Some animals use venom, while other dangerous animals just have big teeth and strong jaws.

I must emphasize, however, that most of these dangerous animals want nothing more than to be left alone and will not attack humans unless they are startled, feel threatened, or are trying to protect their young. If you respect them, they are very unlikely to attack you.

Some animals, such as the Florida black bear and the Florida panther, have suffered from shrinking habitats due to human encroachment over the years and are now endangered species, meaning that in a very real sense, they are more threatened by us than the other way around!

Here are my top 10 most dangerous animals in Florida.

Spiders. There are two spiders in particular, found in Florida, that can potentially be dangerous.

The brown recluse spider (also nicknamed the fiddleback spider, brown fiddler, or violin spider, because of its markings) is one of the most dangerous animals in Florida. It is only small but has a venomous bite that can put you in hospital or worse.

The spider's name comes from its tendency to seclude itself in dark recesses. Your chance of encountering one is Florida is relatively small, but you should always be aware of the risk, as the consequences of a bite can be very serious.

Southern Black Widow spiders are more common and should also be avoided. Widow spiders can be identified by the distinctive red hourglass marking on their back. The female is bigger and far more venomous than the male. Their webs are often three-dimensional and chaotic looking, unlike the classic flat, circular web pattern of many spiders.

You can avoid both spiders by wearing gloves when working in places where they might be living, such as sheds. You should also be careful when putting on old clothing, or footwear, and shake them out before wearing.

Florida Black bears. The Florida black bear is the largest animal that you will find on land in Florida. They live in wooded areas.

An endangered species, they are rare to see, although they were much more common before the arrival of Europeans in Florida.

Sadly, many of these fine animals are killed by cars in automobile accidents.

A Florida black bear in Ocala National Forest.  It is illegal to injure or kill these bears in Florida.  These bears are Florida's largest terrestrial mammal, with a male weighing in at around 300 pounds.
A Florida black bear in Ocala National Forest. It is illegal to injure or kill these bears in Florida. These bears are Florida's largest terrestrial mammal, with a male weighing in at around 300 pounds. | Source

Sharks. There are many different sorts of shark in the waters around Florida, including Bull Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, and Hammerhead Sharks. Thankfully, the Great White Shark is rarely seen.

Florida had the most unprovoked shark attacks in the world in 2013, when there were 23. None of the 10 fatal attacks around the world that year occurred in Florida.

A young American alligator by Lake Alice in Gainesville, Florida.  Alligators have a very powerful bite, but are also naturally afraid of humans, so generally only attack if provoked or protecting their young.
A young American alligator by Lake Alice in Gainesville, Florida. Alligators have a very powerful bite, but are also naturally afraid of humans, so generally only attack if provoked or protecting their young. | Source

American Alligators. These large water-dwelling reptiles pack a powerful bite and should be treated with extreme caution. They will generally seek to swim away, if approached but I wouldn’t take any risks. If they think their young are at risk, or they feel threatened in some other way, they are capable of striking out.

These reptiles should not be confused with crocodiles, although they can appear similar to the untrained eye. The easiest way to tell them apart is the snout, which is wider and rounded for an alligator, and more pointed for a crocodile.

Crocodiles only live in the southernmost tip of Florida too, whereas alligators can be found across Florida and the southeastern United States. Crocodiles are potentially dangerous too, although the American type tends to be much less aggressive than the African and Australian versions.

Snakes. There are 6 types of snake in Florida which are venomous and a danger to humans: copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins), coral snakes, plus Eastern diamondback, timber and dusky pigmy rattlesnakes. (See also the 6 Most Dangerous Snakes in Florida).

As well as the snakes that are native to Florida, there are also Burmese pythons. These live in southern Florida and have bred from irresponsible pet owners releasing them into the wild, when they’ve became too large to cope with. Some are also thought to have escaped from zoos and houses during Hurricane Andrew. They have bred prolifically in recent years and there are estimated to be somewhere between 5,000 and 180,000 pythons in the Everglades by officials.

Wild Boars are the descendents of escaped domestic pigs that were brought over by the Spanish, possibly as early as 1539. These intelligent feral hogs can weigh more than 300 pounds and be very aggressive.

An ancestor of the domestic pig, wild boars can be found throughout Florida.  They are not indigenous, but arrived with the Spanish, some of which escaped into the wild.
An ancestor of the domestic pig, wild boars can be found throughout Florida. They are not indigenous, but arrived with the Spanish, some of which escaped into the wild. | Source

Florida Panthers. This beautiful big cat is a subspecies of cougar and was chosen in 1982 as the Florida state animal. It is protected and an endangered species, as there are only 80-100 of them left. Its only natural predators are alligators and humans.

Fire ants. These insects have a painful and irritating venomous bite. Their sting causes a red bump which can turn into a white pustule and cause an infection if scratched (the bites often turn very itchy the following day).

Some people are allergic to fire ant bites, which can be life-threatening in some severe cases.

Fire ant bites three days after the encounter.  The stings swell into bumps or white pustules, which are an irritant and itchy.  If scratched, the pustules can become infected or cause scarring.
Fire ant bites three days after the encounter. The stings swell into bumps or white pustules, which are an irritant and itchy. If scratched, the pustules can become infected or cause scarring. | Source

Jellyfish. There are many species of jellyfish, only some of them have stings that cause a bad reaction in humans. Jellyfish stings can cause no pain, intense pain, or even death in some cases and therefore they should be avoided whenever possible.

Beached jellyfish at Cocoa Beach, Florida.   Jellyfish stings are unpredictable, many cause no harmful effects, but in extreme circumstances they can be fatal
Beached jellyfish at Cocoa Beach, Florida. Jellyfish stings are unpredictable, many cause no harmful effects, but in extreme circumstances they can be fatal | Source

Big Fish. Barracuda and marlin can both cause potential harm to swimmers. Although attacks on humans by barracudas are extremely rare, they can be confused by shiny things such as diamond rings into thinking that people are prey. Marlins are also reputed to be capable of causing harm.

Large in size and fearsome in appearance, barracudas are opportunistic predators which consume large prey by ripping off chunks of flesh.  They mainly eat fish and will compete with dolphins and other fish over smaller prey.
Large in size and fearsome in appearance, barracudas are opportunistic predators which consume large prey by ripping off chunks of flesh. They mainly eat fish and will compete with dolphins and other fish over smaller prey. | Source

© 2011 Paul Goodman

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    • chanroth profile image

      chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

      speaking of big fish...jelly fish and so many weird things in the water is the reason why I don't swim in rivers...I read the news the other day, some kind of parasite in the water lead to two children death. It is rare and eat the human brain. I like this hub and I vote up, useful and interesting. Hoping to read more from you! :)

    • Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      Absolutely fascinating and packed with interesting facts. Looking forward to reading your other Hubs. California wildlife is pretty tame compared to Florida's, but we make up for it with taxes and unemployment. A totally different beast, you might say.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I was warned away because of the jellyfish from swimming outside my Florida auntie's home. This is a great hub. I'd think we'd all know not to mess with the alligator! I had no idea that Florida had both bears and panthers. I thought the Adirondak mountains had all the eastern bears.

    • ahaines profile image

      ahaines 5 years ago from Orlando, Fl

      I live in Florida, and I'm glad you wrote this to help people know that this state has more than alligators to watch out for.

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 5 years ago from Winnipeg

      Absolutely amazing creatures, none of which live near me, thanks goodness,except for bears Lol. Very interesting and good information. Thanks for sharing...

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such useful info.

    • Sun-Girl profile image

      Sun-Girl 5 years ago from Nigeria

      Nice hub which shows a lot of researched work and i enjoyed reading from this work.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 5 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Yikes, Florida is dangerous LOL. Very Informative!

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      I love this one, of course. I have had encounters with all of these and the brown recluse is the scarriest. I had a bite on my hip and didn't realize what it was until I lucked into a walk in clinic with a poisonous bite specialist on duty. The treatment was gruesome.

      New residents are often shocked to see their first 8 foot gator . . . on their driveway. Remember the adage about Florida swamp land? Hello. Your new house is built on a swamp and someone forgot to tell the animals that they aren't welcome anymore. As far as snakes . . . a cotton mouth is a water moccasin . . . a copperhead is not really a water snake, but are often found around water.

      As for sharks . . . old school surfers like myself will tell you to act like a predator - show no fear. Does it really work or are we whistling past the grave yard?

    • @wd carry 111 5 years ago

      Yeah thts true

    • cloe 5 years ago

      I have been in florida and it is so pretty and nice but i hate those sickik animals.

    • mallory 4 years ago

      o my gosh i think some one should icstermanate i do not want my dog eaten by a alagator

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

      The most dangerous animal in Florida is man.

    • 12 4 years ago

      omg tht nasty

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image
      Author

      Paul Goodman 4 years ago from Florida USA

      Thank you to the 2 commenters who highlighted the error in the snake section, which has now been amended.

    • wwolfs 4 years ago

      Thanks for all this great information. Florida is a beautiful state but it's good to be aware of the dangers one could encounter.

    • Adam 4 years ago

      What about Nile Monitors?

    • jaynor saguid 3 years ago

      thanks for watch this

    • Cool 3 years ago

      What about wild boars? Very dangerous

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image
      Author

      Paul Goodman 3 years ago from Florida USA

      Yes, very good point. Boars are more common than some of the animals listed and dangerous, as you say. They aren't indigenous to Florida (brought by the Spanish), but neither are Burmese Pythons. I might merge Burmese Pythons with the snakes section and add boars to the list, when I have time!

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 3 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      No thanks! I think I'll stick to black bears, mountain lions, rattle snakes, black widow spiders, and great white sharks here in California. I really don't like the thought of gators and Burmese pythons. Hrrrr!

    • imam hossain rony profile image

      Imam hossain rony 3 years ago from Dhaka

      great article. such they are monster of the world.thanks for sharing this ideas.

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image

      FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

      Interesting look at such animals, though. Never been to Florida yet so thanks for the warning if I ever visit there. Voted up and useful, interesting.

    • KatNance profile image

      KatNance 3 years ago

      interesting hub,,not tooo sure that i will be visting Florida..they are beautiful animals..... from a distance

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image
      Author

      Paul Goodman 3 years ago from Florida USA

      Florida is safe. Pretty much all of these animals seek to avoid human contact, if they can, and encounters are pretty rare in most cases. You avoid risk of injury by following basic common sense.

    • Jamilla 3 years ago

      good

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      I used to share my home with several black widow spiders without knowing it! That was a little bit of a shock to find out. Most land-based harmful animals don't really scare me, but things in the water do. As a Suth Carolinian, I am used to very murky water at the beach and I hate not seeing what I'm about to step on! I've had some nasty run ins with stinging critters before.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      Paul,

      its good to know of dangerous animals in Florida

      I remember watching the history channel on how years ago

      people would smuggle illegal creatures over into Florida

      thanks for the read and for sharing the top ten dangerous creatures with everyone

      Voted up and sharing.

    • Rubie 2 years ago

      good to know what dangers are in florida if I visit.

    • lauren 2 years ago

      great info. nice to know I only have to watch out for 2 spiders that could kill me. good to know about the sakes too. I hate snakes and spiders

    • flgirl 21 months ago

      Beware of sting rays as well! Do the stingray shuffle

    • Danny b 19 months ago

      I actually live in Florida and I had no idea that we had bears and boars here .-. I've seen plenty of gators and a couple of sharks, you just need to be aler but it's a beautiful place to live in (:

    • ChrisCampbell05 profile image

      Chris 15 months ago from Tampa, FL

      Don't let this terrify you. I have been in FL for 25 years. I have always been an outdoor person. Most of these things are timid creatures, and opportunistic hunters. This means you are more than likely large and dangerous for them to attack.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 13 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great list, Paul. At least I don't want to encounter any of them, especially those fire ants. This was a great hub with excellent photos to go with the list of dangerous animals out there. Well done!

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