Most people in the United States have some form of pet. Be it a fish, snake, cat, dog, or bird, people love animals. They draw us, as the cliche goes, "like moths to a flame." They can be cute and cuddly or gross and slimy and still we want to be around them. Even animals that can be fatal to humans draw our interest. However, the most surprising creatures are the ones that are both cute and deadly.
Brown and black rats are the most common rat species in the world today. Probably the most interesting tidbit about rats is that they can live just about anywhere because they are highly adaptable. The rat has become one of the more common pets for kids and adults the world over. They are highly intelligent and, once tamed, very affectionate. Being smarter than rabbits, guinea pigs, and most of the other members of the order rodentia, they can even be taught to do a variety of tricks for the amusement of the owner. According to A-Z Animals, there is even a myth that says that no matter where a person is, there is a rat within five feet of them. History paints an ugly picture of rats as people quickly caught on to how dangerous they were. They carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans via fleas. One of these diseases, the Bubonic Plague, killed over two-thirds of the European population in the 1300s. This may not be cause of alarm today, but they still carry diseases that can be deadly to humans.
There are very few people in the United States who have not heard of, or watched, Flipper. Many people even have ‘swim with the dolphins’ on their bucket lists. The bottle-nose dolphin is generally seen as playful and gentle sea creatures that have been known to rescue humans occasionally. However, they can be just as dangerous as they can be fun. While some humans can develop wonderful athletic skill in water, they will never compare to the wild abilities of a dolphin. Male bottle-nose dolphins are thought to attack young girls and women because of hormones that they release. Sometimes, however, the attack is caused because a female dolphin is present and the male is just protecting her. The typical attack consists of using the nose as a club, but instead of swinging from side to side, they plunge their nose into their victims in a stabbing motion. They will also bite their victims.
Yes, one of the most dangerous animals on the planet happens to be deer. They may be the top game of hunters and the cause of a lifetime of memories due to the Disney movie, Bambi. Even with all this, they cause over one-hundred human deaths a year simply through car accidents. But, this is not the only way they are deadly. They are carriers of Lyme disease which is transmuted to humans through ticks. Then add to these numbers the number of attacks that deer commit on humans and you have one dangerous and deadly animal.
Almost every one of the bears have a number of kills per year. Grizzly bears are typically the bear that is seen as aggressive and dangerous. But just as many humans are killed by the Black Bear and the Brown Bear. Even the Polar Bear has had its share of human killings, though they occur typically because of human stupidity. (In the case of one incident, some kids followed a trail to where a polar bear was resting. Instead of leaving it alone, the kids threw rocks at it and the bear in turn killed two of the kids.) Even pandas have been known to attack humans.
The slow loris is an endangered primate that lives in the Asia. It is a truly cute creature with huge eyes and tiny hands. Its slow movement is deemed adorable by animal lovers world-wide and is highly sought after as a pet, though an illegal one. They are endangered due to habitat loss and illegal trade as both pets and for medicines. They are currently on the list of twenty-five most endangered primates in the world. The loris has a poison on its arms which it uses to ward off predators. They also have a nasty bite that causes swelling, and in rare cases anaphylactic shock.
It looks like a harmless snail that you would find in the Indo-Pacific oceans. However, these snails are much more deadly than they appear. Their shells have a variety of eye-catching colors, coaxing humans to pick them up, which is when they are at their most dangerous. The Cone Snail has a tooth which they use to inject a toxin into their victim. Part of the poison has a painkilling agent so the attack may even go unnoticed until it is too late. There is no known anti-venom.
Man’s best friend is also a deadly creature. Many people realize how deadly these creatures can be especially when watching a police dog in action. Many dogs are trained to attack anyone who encroaches in their territory, or at a command. Some dogs are well known for killing humans, especially children. But there is more to how deadly the common canine can be. Some dogs carry diseases that can be spread to their human companions through ticks and fleas.
And the most surprising of all – Cats
Cats are well known for being fiercely independent of their human companions. They are happiest when hunting rodents or small birds, sometimes even leaving a kill on their human family’s doorstep. Though humans are not likely to be killed by handling or owning a pet, they can be seriously harmed due to the parasites that cats carry. One such disease is called Toxoplasmosis. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, toxoplasmosis refers to a parasite known as the toxoplasma parasite which for the most part lies dormant in the human body. But for women who are pregnant or those who are fighting lowering-immune illnesses, toxoplasmosis can be deadly. It is typically picked up through the cleaning of the cat box. The good news is that people are more likely to pick up toxoplasmosis through under-cooked meat or from mosquitoes than they are from their cats.