Australian Animals That Won’t Kill You, Ranked

Australian Animals That Won’t Kill You, Ranked

I am Australian. I have noticed online that people who are not Australian seem to work under the assumption that this is an island of death, where every step you take you run the risk of being bitten, stung, impaled or eaten alive by a murderous wild creature. I am here today to tell you that they are only half right.

Yes, under certain circumstances (and in certain places) there are some animals that you simply do not want to fuck with. Red Back Spiders. Brown Snakes. Anything that lives in the water. But focusing on that half of the narrative means you’re missing out on the other, cooler half of what happens when a continent drifts for millions of years and grows a bunch of its own weird-arse animals.

Here, then, are animals that may hurt you, but will not kill you, ranked in order of…I dunno, how badly I want each one as a pet.


Kangaroos are our national icon. They are also shit. The worst. They’re pests. They may look it, but they’re not cuddly. The longer you look at one, the more you start noticing how gross and weird and sinewy their legs are. Like someone stuck a fox onto some giant, raw chicken wings.

WILL IT KILL YOU? Not directly. They will attack and give you a good punch-up if you annoy them (especially the big Red Kangaroos), but they won’t seek you out to kill you. They do, however, kill people indirectly by jumping out in front of cars at night. Hence their place at #10.


They have very cool haircuts. And can talk to humans. Almost the perfect bird.

WILL IT KILL YOU? Haha, nope.


The waters off the coast of Australia are full of things specifically designed to end your life, but not everything is a killer. The Port Jackson shark, which grows to around 4-5 feet long, generally just chills at the bottom of the ocean, and has one of the most amazing eggs on the planet, which looks like it was laid by an alien that would grow up to destroy Tokyo.

WILL IT KILL YOU? The last recorded “attack” by a Port Jackson shark came in 2011. Its teeth didn’t even break the guy’s skin.


The Sugar Glider is a possum. Now, to Americans, a possum is a shrieking creature from the depths of hell. Australian possums are different. They’re like squirrels, only noisier. And this one can fly! Well, glide. And it’s super cute.

WILL IT KILL YOU? With those big soft eyes, maybe.


A Quokka is what would happen if there was an anime about kangaroos.

WILL IT KILL YOU? Why are you even asking this question.


Koalas sleep for 18-20 hours a day, every day. They, like almost every other animal on this list, look like Pokemon.

WILL IT KILL YOU? No. They will very occasionally attack humans if they feel especially threatened, but with 20 hours of sleep to get through in a day, they can’t be bothered finishing you off then feasting on your bones.


As the breeding season approaches, wedge-tailed eagle pairs perch close to each other and preen one another. They also perform dramatic aerobatic display flights together over their territory. Sometimes, the male dives down at breakneck speed towards his partner. As he pulls out of his dive and rises just above her on outstretched wings, she either ignores him or turns over to fly upside down, stretching out her talons. The pair may then perform a loop-the-loop.

WILL IT KILL YOU? You? No. Any other living land animal on the Australian continent? Most surely.


It’s like a mouse, kinda? Only fat, like a pig. And it lives underground. And does square poops (literally). Tamer ones love cuddles. And when attacked, it doesn’t fight back…it runs into its burrow head-first, protecting itself by blocking the hole with its teeth-proof butt. I did not make that last bit up.



What the fuck even is a platypus. When the British first took some back to the Old World, everyone thought they were taking the piss, that it was some elaborate colonial hoax. Nope. We really do have duck rabbits who live in the water and are mammals.

WILL IT KILL YOU? No. But it can hurt you. Not with its bill, but with its barbs. Yes, it has barbs (you can see them protruding from their flippers), and they’re venomous. A venomous mammal. Australia.


LOOK AT THIS THING. I swear this is a real animal, and that this is its actual name. It’s a Pokemon come to life. It’s a kangaroo that lives in trees. It is cute as hell. I want one real bad.

WILL IT KILL YOU? Get outta here.


    • I once (when I was about 10) was staying with family on the gold coast in the september school holidays. I made the mistake of cutting through a park to go to the beach, and had a magpie not only swoop me, but sit on my shoulder and start pecking at my face until I got far enough away from it’s tree that it left me a lone… left a bunch of nice scratches on my cheek!

    • i had one pierce my skull when i was 5 and walking home from the school bus stop to my house (a distance of around 100m). ended up getting a few stitches and we had to get the cops to come around and shoot the ones around house because they were attacking the other residents of the caravan park as well

    • Fun fact: Magpies will actually have certain people they don’t like and will swoop them more viciously. You can get in their good books by leaving food out for them. We have two in our front yard that will come sit with me near the porch but go apesh1t at passers by 🙂

      • Dude, those things are the very definition of ‘angry birds’. That sound they make.

        Used to have them nesting on the roof at work, and they got even more pissy when they were nesting. They’d wait until your back was turned and fly at you, but the moment you turned around they’d run away.

        • So they fly when you’re not looking, but run when you are? They sound like they’re trying to hide their super power.

    • One drew blood on my eyebrow when I was cycling once. Lucky I had my sunglasses tied with a strap…

      I do not cycle during that time of the year anymore.

    • Magpies can be arseholes – but I admire their flying skills (ex postie).

      And roos can definately kill you with their legs (and are ace boxers to boot). So they can definately punch the shit out of you. Especially the big reds which stand over 2 metres and make Mike Tyson look like a pussy.

      Also emus can be dangerous to your appetite – I once had one swallow my t-bone steak lunch WHOLE (you could even watch the “T” sliding down its long neck lol).

      Oh cockies and wombats (ask me former my baby bro latter) can bite like hell.

      And you totally forget to mention the dreaded “drop bear”! Shame! Apart from that brilliant.

      • haha best answer!!

        And to relate it back to gaming – see if you can hunt down an arcade game called MOCAP BOXING from Konami (yeah them, when they used to be cool)

        On the ranking page they have (I kid you not)


        In what planet is the Champion not considered in 1st place!! (we had the Korean version at my joint, but I assume the same error appears in Japanese and Asian releases)

    • I was gonna make an awesome wisecrack about in Australia 3 comes before 2 but then he fixed the post and ruined my fun. Awww.

    • Remember when gaming wasn’t such SERIOUS BIZNESS that people could have a bit of fun, go a little off-topic, or just generally have a good time?

      Come on, man. It’s cool. Live a little.

      • Gaming is a mega $$$ business, and it should be treated seriously but I know that’s not your point. I’m amazed that I’m copping so much heat for this view.

        @MarkSerrels stood at the front of the PAX auditorium in 2014 and declared himself a journalist. I think, for the most part, that label has suited him well. Kotaku AU, moreso since Alex Walker came on board, have probably led the charge in quality writing for video games, certainly when compared against Kotaku USA.

        Allure Media have two other sites – one of which (Lifehacker) would have been far more appropriate than Kotaku for this article (but even then, I think BuzzFeed have pretty much cornered the market here).

        Even IGN – the most popcorn, unfriendly site to visit for mobile data and read-while-taking-a-shit – keeps things loosely in the borders of ‘entertainment’.

        I’m simply lamenting over having no dedicated gaming news sites anymore. I think it’s a fair cop.

        • I guess you’re getting a lot of flak for it because historically, every time someone posts something interesting but ultimately only tangentially gaming related, there’s has a small group of people who are Mad On The Internet about it. So even if you didn’t mean to, you said a thing that was going to catch heat because some buttlords came in before you and farted up the place saying pretty much verbatim what you did.

          Kotaku is mostly a gaming site. It really hasn’t ever been a Gaming Only site. there has always been a bit of pop culture mixed in. There have always been articles about anime, board games, cosplay, Japan being generally strange as hell, and even politics when it effects the gaming world.

    • Mate sometimes we need to be reminded why we love living in such a dangerous country – especially on Australia Day!.

  • Only male platpuses have venomous barbs and they are off the rear ankles. The “barbs” the rookie author says are venomous are just regular old claws.

    • Not sure I would have ranked the platypus as 2. Cute yes but the venom produces long lasting and “excruciating” pain that is not relieved by conventional painkillers

      I’ve seen someone in hospital after being stuck by a platy spur and there was a lot of screaming despite a truck load of analgesia. Not nice at all.

      • Only males, though.

        I have been swimming with a tame female. She enjoyed climbing on my back, being tickled on the belly, and swimming in loops between my legs.

        Belly tickles are unbelievable. Pretty sure I died. I’m now dead from a platypus but in a good way.

    • Both sexes have the “spurs” however only the males spurs contain venom. Although powerful enough to kill smaller animals such as dogs the venom is not lethal to humans. Very painful however.

    • Was going to say this. they’re not all that safe at all if they aren’t tame and some I’ve been around have been pretty aggressive, the huge numbers of them in Kangaroo valley are pretty aggressive if you annoy them. Still bloody nice animals though.

  • HAHAHA You think these can’t kill you…

    “Won’t kill” and “Waiting orderly in line, biding their time for their turn” are two entirely different things my friend…

    In all seriousness, Kanga’s have killed over 18 people so far in recorded history and injured potentially hundreds. Just sayin’. 🙂

    • About 10 years ago, a friend of my gran was driving down south of WA, was mid-afternoon. Hit a Kanga, it went over the bonnet and through the windshield, clawed her and the passenger to death trying to get out before dying of its own injuries. Does that count for two of your tally? Or go into the motor vehicle category……….

      • More than likely, found the stat on a website that was updated as of last year. That’s awful to hear, condolences on that :\

        Here’s the site:

        They’re a savage animal when injured, cornered or provoked, they’ve been compared to enraged lions in the past. We watched a big red, around 15 years ago, through binoculars (no way I was going near it) out near Isa, as it went to town thumping a car wreck, trying to get at a smaller roo that was hiding inside it. It was just kicking in the panels on the wreck. Unbelievable how powerful it was.

    • That’s not just in recorded history; they killed 18 people between 2000 & 2010.

      They’re stone cold killers with large blades on their toes.

  • this is list has quite a few animals on that will kill you. Kangaroos, Koalas, Platypus and Wedge Tail Eagle are all extremely capable of killing a grown man let alone a baby or small child. Hell one of mates who is a paraglider gets attacked regularly by Wedge Tails while in the air. A Roo is capable of not only disembowling but also drowning your arse. PLatypus has a very potent venom that can cause extreme pain and kill if they not handled in a correct way. And koalas can be extremely vicious.

    for bonus points Wombats love to dogs and cats that cchase them into their burrows buy crushing their skulls, they also fucking great acclerateration and can run at upto 40kph so if one charges you you best get out the way fast

    • Just incidentally the Platypus’s venom is known to be incredibly painful but it’s non-lethal to humans (but severely lethal to animals). There’s never been a recorded fatality, though there’s been plenty of recorded injuries (severely long lasting too!)

    • Koala and Platypus? C’mon… Just no. Never been recorded as human killers. Sure, some injuries, but FAR from capable of killing you.

      Wedge Tailed Eagles, though huge and magnificent, have never been on record as a human killers either, though I guess the exception may be indirect kills via attacking paragliders. Also never heard of that but could be proven wrong.

      • A koala will claw your damn face off if you get within reach. That could be fatal without prompt medical attention.

        • With all due respect, no. Koalas may give you a decent laceration but no way will it kill you unless you leave wounds festering for a few weeks. Our wildlife is played up hard. I’m happy to encourage this perception to foreigners though, don’t get me wrong. This is coming from a rural boy with snakes, eagles, asshole insects and spiders etc.

        • They are definately NOT the “teddy bears” people think they are. They have very strong and long claws that could cause a lot of damage. And climbing a tree wont save you either. They will beat you to the top and wait for your sorry arse.

    • Got a mate that was part of an army unit out here that had some yanks come over to demonstrate the Predator Drone (1st or 2nd generation, I think), they were trying to sell us on them.
      It’s circling the area, on the ground underneath are a couple of generals (some American, some ours), a few bird colonels, some hangers on, a dozen engineers and technicals.
      Out of the clear blue a Wedgetail takes a dislike to this thing and drives it straight into the ground.

      He recons it’s still one of the funniest things he’d seen in his time in service.
      Watching a yank general go completely off his trolley about the damn wildlife in our accursed country, whilst the wreck of this very expensive piece of kit smokes in front of them.

  • Normally an attack warrants the threat of injury that could be serious enough to result in death. So saying No they wont kill you is kind of misleading.

    A great white shark wont kill you, but in the right situation might give you a love bite that causes you to bleed out while you wave your arms frantically around in a ocean of salt water and your own bodily fluids.

  • I nearly died from a drop bear attack while reading this article. Remember to look up and survive. Always be vigilant people!

    • I’ll add snakes to that list of things to watch out for when under trees. Had a tree snake fall from the tree on to me. I had to change my pants after that one 🙁 But that found fossils that could be from a drop bear of sorts.

      • Best way to get the girls into your tent at a campsite is to warn them about the drop bears. The possums themselves will do the rest for you! I love you drop bears!

  • Number 9 – Cockatoo

    WILL IT KILL YOU? Haha, nope.

    But they will swear at you. Also, these birds are the clowns of the bird kingdom. Hanging upside down from trees for shits n giggles.

  • This list is a lie.2 years ago a Koala broke into my house in the middle of the night and threatened my family with a knife,demanding all of our Eucalyptus leaves.Also,a Cockatoo burned my oldest mates house down while cackling and screeching “Who wants a cracker now bitch ?”.Beware…

    • About that big.

      Pretty sure that’s about the biggest wombat recorded. Normally they grow to about the size of a medium dog at most. A medium dog that is also a tank.

    • Now extinct ones were about as big as a rhino. So yeah big. They found fossils on the Nullarbor plain in a cave close to the coast.

  • For koalas

    “WILL IT KILL YOU? No. They will very occasionally attack humans if they feel especially threatened, but with 20 hours of sleep to get through in a day, they can’t be bothered finishing you off then feasting on your bones.”

    Arent the ones that ARE bothered known as drop bears?

  • Honestly, the absence of the Tasmanian Devil is somewhat surprising.
    It’s iconic enough to have been made into a cartoon character.

  • I friggin love the Quokka…

    Seriously, that animal never looks unhappy… you’d never know it was a cold, calculating, vicious predator to look at it.

    • Major zombie article. I was wondering why the hell I was getting notifications for something that I wrote eons ago. (Which I still stand by … this article seems so out of place in Kotaku).

  • Looks like it. And he hasn’t even amended the content. The last death from a Kangaroo may have been over 80 years ago now, but they can and will kill you if you don’t treat it with respect and caution.

    • 18 people killed by roos between 2000-2010. They’re cold, calculating killers, and there are 60 million of them.

      They are coming!

    • Scaring you to death doesn’t count. Nor does laughing yourself to death when mum adjusts the curtains and one jumps on her head.

  • I’m not certain about the Kangaroo… I’m pretty sure it’ll kick your torso off if you look at it funny

    • Correct. Kangaroos can and do kill people directly. Their usual trick is to lean back on their tail and eviscerate you with the razor sharp claws on the tips of their incredibly powerful legs.

      From the stats I quoted last year when they ran this story (scroll up Badge) roos killed (directly) 18 people between 2000-2010.

      Pretty sure you’re safe from quokkas though.

  • have you ever heard Brush tail possums fighting?? the rumbling vocal sound that that they make to ward others from their territory is bone rattling and chilling. Koalas don’t sound that much better when they growl.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!