I used to feel so much safer in the aloneness of the woods than I did near people. I always felt a sense of peace, a oneness with nature, that made me feel secure. As a child, I was taught that animals were more scared of me than I was of them, making me feel somewhat bulletproof when it came to predators around me.
But then I discovered there were animals that eat people. As I studied nature more and more, I learned about times when animals preyed on people – and even hunted them. So now I use a little more caution in the woods because I don’t want to end up as prey. You won’t believe how many animals eat humans alive.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what animals eat humans alive. We’ll talk about what those animals are, where they are from, and how they attack humans. Some even consider humans their prey. Let’s get started!
Vampire bats have been scarily discussed in literature since the 1800s! And for a good reason – they have razor-sharp teeth which can easily slice into your skin.
Typically, they feed on livestock commonly available where they live in Central or South America. But they don’t discriminate – a bat will use echolocation to locate its prey and then use infrared senses in its nose to find a delectable blood vessel or artery near the skin. Then, they’ll slice open the skin. The saliva contains an anti-clotting agent called Draculin, which helps the blood flow freely. And from there, the bats will lap up your delicious blood. According to pbs.org, a vampire bat will only take about a tablespoon of your blood, so you’ll probably be ok! On the other hand, in 2010, for children in Peru died of rabies from a vampire bat bite.
2. Bed Bugs
If you sleep, you’re at risk of getting bitten by bed bugs. Although bed bugs were initially associated with ‘dirty’ homes or places, the reality is that bed bug infestations can happen even in the cleanest of homes.
Bed bugs will hide in cracks, crevices, and mattresses. At night, they are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale while we are sleeping. They’ll crawl on our bodies and feed on our blood for five to ten minutes at a time, then return to their hiding spot.
Although bed bugs are known to feed on people, their bites are rarely dangerous unless you get a rash or have an allergic reaction.
After watching the movie Stand by Me, I was always afraid of leeches. Most species of leeches prefer to feed off of fish rather than people, but a hungry leech will happily latch on to you, as well!
Leeches have very sharp teeth. They also have anesthetic and anticoagulant properties in their saliva. So if they latch on to you, you won’t feel it! According to biokids.com, some leeches are used for medical treatment.
Bengal Tigers don’t typically eat people – but they can, and they certainly have! In the 1920s, a Royal Bengal Tiger became a serial killer of sorts, as it hunted and ate at least 430 people in India. This tiger, known as the Man-Eater of Champawat, even hunted people in their own homes. Eventually, a hunter was commissioned to kill the tiger and remove the danger, says lithub.com. Too little too late, as many people lost their lives to this man-eating tiger.
Regardless of whether or not tigers typically eat people, it is scary enough to know that they can!
Like tigers, lions rarely eat people, although they will attack a human in their territory. However, in 1898, two lions killed and ate as many as 35 people in Kenya. Scientists studied why these two lions, along with a third lion in Zambia, would have turned to people for so much of their diets. TYpcially, lions are more likely to feed on buffalo and giraffes than on humans.
It turns out that these lions probably had dental disease and jaw problems, which led them to want a softer, easier meal, like a person.
So while you should fear lions in the wild, you should be extra careful around lions with bad teeth if you don’t want to become their next meal!
I’ve seen wolves up close at the zoo, and I’ve heard them howling in the mountains where I was camping, but I never came face to face with a hungry wolf. And while wolf attacks on people are rare in the United States, they actually can happen.
In 2010, Candice Berner, an Alaskan school teacher, was killed by two wolves. In 2005, 22-year-old Kenton Joel was bitten and killed by wolves when he hiked alone in the woods. According to nbcnews.com, children have been snatched and eaten by wolves in India. While there may be 60 to 70,000 wolves located in North America, it only takes a few that have been habituated to people to turn deadly.
We love to laugh at the insane creatures in children’s movies, where they are depicted as evil but dumb animals. But just because these animals seem funny to us doesn’t make them any less dangerous. In fact, Hyenas are such incredible hunters that they can kill and eat humans -especially smaller women and children.
Hyenas have a reputation for being scavengers, but in reality, most of their food comes from hunting. They can weigh close to 200 pounds and have a bite force of 1100 psi.
If food is abundant, hyenas are more likely to feed on easy prey. But when food gets scarce, be forewarned! A hungry pack can easily take down a human and devour it.
Dingoes are a species of wild dog found in Australia. They live in packs, led by a dominant male and female. The female is known to kill the cubs of all of the other females in the pack!
In 1980, a baby was taken from her family’s tent where they were camping. After years of public debate and imprisonment of the baby’s family, it was determined that a dingo did, in fact, take and kill the baby. Although dingo populations have dwindled and the animal is protected by law in Australia, they are wild animals, and they have been known to attack.
In Yellowstone National Park in 2015, a bear was put to death for killing and eating a hiker. Typically, bears do not hunt people for food. Bears are omnivores, and most of their diet is from plants and berries. Generally, a bear will only attack a human if disturbed or feels threatened. However, in this instance, a bear discovered the lone, unprotected hiker and decided to make him his dinner. The park has zero tolerance for man-eaters and exterminated the bear.
I often visited my grandparents in the summer in the Everglades, where they had frequent visits from a rather large crocodile. We learned to coexist – giving him plenty of space and staying inside when he was nearby.
But crocs aren’t the lazy, sun-loving creatures we think they are. Instead, they are aggressive killing machines that will just as happily eat a human as anything else.
Nile and saltwater crocodiles are the most dangerous of all. In 2020, Ricky Ganya of Malaysia was eaten whole by an enormous crocodile. In Uganda, a 16-foot crocodile is believed to be behind the demise of over 80 people between 1991 and 2005. Crocodiles may be responsible for as many as 1000 attacks per year, according to wildexplained.com.
I remember the sad news in 2016 when a young boy was killed by an alligator at Disney World. A few years later, an adult was attacked in Florida while playing frisbee, and although he was rescued, he later died.
Like their crocodile cousins, alligators may appear lazy and complacent, but they can be aggressive and incredibly deadly.
Alligator attacks are more likely to happen in or near the water when it is the mating season or when an alligator is hungry or protecting its babies. That being said, never ever feed an alligator because feeding animals can cause them to lose their natural fear of humans.
The movie Jaws has led many people to be suspicious of sharks. And while most sharks don’t eat people, the Great White Shark is the type of shark usually involved in human attacks. The US has the most number of shark attacks in the world, with the state of Florida having the most! Half of all shark attacks involve surfing and other board sports.
You can watch a shark attacking a man in Australia in this video. It’s horrific and scary to think you might be eaten by a shark by just swimming, but keep in mind you’re more likely to die while taking a selfie than from being eaten by a shark, according to the New York Post.
Pigs are intelligent creatures. They can learn to do tricks, recognize their own name, and even their mother’s voice. Some people even keep pot-bellied pigs for pets, although you may change your mind after this.
Pigs will pretty much eat anything – including people! In 2012, a farmer in Oregon supposedly suffered a heart attack, falling into his pigs’ enclosure. By the time someone came by to check on him, there was nothing left – but his dentures.
Although pigs sure are cute, they’re also apparently deadly.
I’ve had a healthy respect for snakes since I was a little girl and came across a young rattlesnake on a nature hike. But where I live, snake attacks are rare, and a pair of thick boots and a watchful eye will usually keep you safe enough from a snakebite.
But in other countries, that just isn’t the case, and a pair of boots isn’t going to save you from being swallowed whole by a giant snake. It’s the stuff that real nightmares are made of when a woman in Indonesia was swallowed whole by a 22-foot python.
Most snakes aren’t large enough to swallow a whole person, but there are a few species that can.
When Jarah went missing, her family started searching and discovered a very bloated python. When they killed and opened the animal, they found her intact remains inside.
There have been other instances of adults being swallowed whole by such large pythons, such as in 2017 when a 25-year-old was found eaten by a python. And a 54-year-old woman was also consumed by a python a year later.
If you’ve watched the tv series Wednesday, you may be amused by the scene in which Wednesday dumps a bag of piranhas into the school swimming pool.
And although the attack was depicted in a humorous light, there have been some very serious piranha attacks in real life. Piranhas have strong jaws and teeth and will attack pretty much anything! That being said, most piranha attacks on people have occurred by the red-bellied piranha species. It tends to happen during the dry season. You’ll find attacks are more prevalent when food is hard to find, and the water level is low – leaving lots of hungry fish!
And although reports of piranhas eating humans are rare, it can happen, so you might want to reconsider keeping them as pets.
16. Komodo Dragons
You’ve seen the large lizard on tv, but is it as dangerous as it looks? Definitely, yes. You don’t want to tangle with a Komodo dragon.
Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds and run up to 12 mph!
Komodo dragons have incredibly sharp teeth and produce a venom that can kill a human within hours.
In 2007, a fisherman and a young boy were killed in unprovoked Komodo dragon attacks. And although you’ll find Komodo dragons in zoos around the world, the only natural population left is found in Komodo National Park. There are approximately 2500 of these dangerous lizards left in the wild.
You might be completely surprised to discover that the deadliest animal in all the world is the tiny little mosquito. According to the CDC, mosquitos are responsible for more deaths than any other animal. Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by the carbon dioxide they emit while breathing. They also are attracted to sweat, dirt, and darker clothes.
When they bite, they leave behind an itchy welt. Not only do they suck our blood, but they can also leave behind dangerous diseases such as malaria, West Nile fever, and yellow fever, just to name a few. So while mosquitoes may not eat a human whole, they will suck your blood and possibly kill you.