Eastern diamondback rattlesnake from Big Cypress National Preserve (adjacent to Everglades National Park), Florida

Florida can be a scary place, there’s danger all around. That’s why it was easy to do a Power Ranking of deadly wild animals here in the Sunshine State. I came up with the 14 scariest critters you can come across here in Florida.

Spoiler alert! Squirrels did not make the power ranking, although you’d think they were deadly considering the way my dog reacts when she sees one.

Other Things In Florida That Can Kill You.

Although this article covers the power ranking of wild animals in Florida that pose a threat to your life, I need to touch on some other dangers first. Like the roads. It is truly dangerous down here. We’re a combination of retirees driving 10 mph below the speed limit, and locals driving 20 over.

I credit my ability to survive the Florida streets to my years of playing Grand Theft Auto. In that game, the cars on the road drive slow and change lanes for no reason whatsoever. Sometimes they cross three lanes of traffic to make a turn. Sound familiar?

Another thing attacking Floridians is pollen. Tree pollen is especially high this spring, and grass pollen isn’t far behind. Although allergies aren’t likely to kill you, it certainly makes you not want to be outside. That sinus headache is no joke.

Mother Nature Doesn’t Want Us Here In Florida.

I have never lived anywhere else in the country where I felt that nature doesn’t want me there like I do in Florida.

Hurricane Ian did tremendous damage in Southwest Florida, but lost in that, is the tornado that happened earlier in the year. Ya’ll remember that tornado that destroyed a trailer park and created an 8 mile path of destruction through Fort Myers in January of 2022? And then we got Hurricane Ian later that same year.

Fort Myers tornado damage.

Severe damage was reported in the Iona area including Ft. Myers Beach and along John Morris. Considerable devastation occurred, and many homes were seriously damaged including loss of roofs and portions of buildings.

Power Ranking The Wild Animals In Florida That Can Kill You.

This isn’t based on number of kills or anything scientific like that. It’s more on the level of how much each one freaks me out. Ranker also helped with this list.

  • 1. The Box Jellyfish

    Animals that I can’t see because they’re under the water freak me out more than most. Enter the box jellyfish. Although only a small percentage of stings are fatal, when they are – they kill quickly. Fun fact: each jellyfish carries enough venom to kill 60 humans and the sting is incredibly painful. To alleviate the pain you can pour vinegar on the sting, but don’t pee on it. I have no idea how that myth got started, but peeing on someone who just got stung won’t help. Actually, I’m kind of against peeing on anyone, anytime – but I understand that is a “thing” for some.


    Box Jellyfish

  • 2. The Brown Recluse

    Brown recluse spider bites are not usually fatal, but these little things rank at number 2 because of the way they attack. Bites happen when the spider gets trapped against the skin.  This includes bedsheets or in clothing and shoes. Remember, if you’ve had your shoes off outside, always shake ’em and tap them on the ground to make sure nothing crawled in there. 

    The venom from the bite causes the skin around the bite to die. It can take months to heal and may scar. Ask Sheila what it’s like to get bit.

    A macro shot of a Brown recluse spider

    A macro shot of a Brown recluse spider

  • 3. The Black Widow

    Yes, spiders take the number 2 and number 3 spot. I’ve run across several of these things in Southwest Florida, but have so far stayed on their good side. A black widow bite can produce painful swelling, cramps, muscle spasms, and nausea. The symptoms usually go away after about 12 hours. Unless the bite is on a child or the elderly. It can kill them.

    A Black Widow Spider spinning a web in an oak tree.

    A Black Widow Spider spinning a web in an oak tree.

  • 4. The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

    This is the largest and most dangerous snake in Florida. Yes, there’s more. If you walk up on one, it will raise up and began to rattle its tail to look larger and more intimidating. That’s your clue to slowly back away. In most instances the snake will avoid confrontation and leave, but if it strikes, well, that’s no fun. If you get bit, get to the hospital for the anti venom. These things can kill you. And they are all over Florida.

    Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Number 4 on our Power Ranking.

    Eastern diamondback rattlesnake from Big Cypress National Preserve (adjacent to Everglades National Park), Florida

  • 5. The Bull Shark

    Florida has sharks, and lots of them. Volusia County is actually the ‘Shark Bite Capital Of The World.” If you’re in the water, be it the Atlantic, or the Gulf – there are sharks nearby. I got to witness that first hand when I was in a seaplane over the Gulf Of Mexico. We were flying low and slow and you could see all the little black dots in the water. Some were pretty close to swimmers. Those were sharks.

    I think we’ve all seen enough movies to know what happens when a shark attacks a human. Ever seen a shark attack a boat?

  • 6. The Alligator

    It’s April as I write this, and we are in mating season for the alligators here in Florida. You’ll see something on social media just about every day of someone having an encounter with an alligator. As more and more houses are built, there are fewer places for the alligators to go. And that’s why the encounters are rising. Now, normally alligators mind their own business around people, but that seems to be changing. This one charged a golf cart.

  • 7. The Southern Copperhead Snake

    This snake ranks lower, mainly because it’s not all over Florida. It’s only found in the panhandle section of Florida. Getting bit by the Southern Copperhead is rarely fatal, due to it’s short fangs and low amount of venom. But left untreated, you can die. If you get bit, keep the bite area below your heart and get to the hospital.

    Southern Copperhead

    Southern Copperhead Snake

  • 8. The Great White Shark

    Great White Sharks like to feed on seals or sea lions. So if you’re out there swimming, try not to look like one of those. Although the Great White Shark leads all the others in deadly attacks, this predator is only here for the winter before heading back up north as the waters get warmer. Here’s a helpful tip. If you see a bunch of fish jumping out of the water, that’s probably a sign that a shark is nearby. It’s best not to swim in that area. Even though it’s not coming after you, you can get bit if you’re in the way.

    Great White Shark attacking

    Great White Shark

  • 9. The Kissing Bug

    Yes, bugs are animals. And this one is nasty. And it’s not the bite that’ll mess you up, it’s the deadly Chagas disease that’s carried by parasites within the bug. You see, the kissing bug bites you to suck your blood. The bug’s fecal matter contains the parasite. If the parasite laden fecal matter gets into the wound, well, that’s how you get sick. So not only does the Kissing Bug bite you and suck your blood, it sh*ts in the wound to make you sick. 

  • 10. Fire Ants

    I have been attacked by fire ants so many times that I don’t even get concerned anymore. But if you get enough, it can cause an allergic reaction that makes you swell up to the point where you can’t breathe. I think the most I’ve had was 20 or so on my ankle and foot. Gotta watch wear you stand.

    fire ants

    “Fire Ants” instructions

  • 11. Oooooooh Barracuda

    The Barracuda is a scavenger with nasty, sharp teeth made to tear and shred. Be careful when you dive, it can mistake something shiny as a meal. 

    Happy  fisherman holding a giant barracuda

    Happy fisherman holding a giant barracuda

  • 12. The Wild Boar

    These things are NOT as playful as the ones you see on Lion King. Generally, they just want to root around destroying your landscaping, but can attack if provoked. And you don’t want to get cut buy one of those tusks. Wild boars are full of diseases. I used to see a lot of these when I lived down Corkscrew Road in Estero.

    wild boar

    Wild Boar

  • 13. Florida Panther

    Although there have been no reported attacks on humans from Florida Panthers, they do pose another problem. They tend to wander out into traffic. 239 Florida Panthers have died in vehicle strikes in the past 10 years. It’s more of an indirect attack. These big cats are endangered, killing a Florida panther is a third-degree felony.

    Florida Panther

    Walking through palmetto trees in Charlotte County, Florida.

  • 14. Black Bear

    Last up on the Power ranking is the Florida Black Bear. Sure, if provoked they can attack, but killing a person is super rare. Usually when we hear black bear stories in Florida it’s because they’ve interacted with humans while looking for food. In trash cans, coming into your garage, etc.

  • Bonus: Florida Man

    Trust. You are much, much, much more likely to be injured by the antics of one of the locals. Florida Man stories are known across the world. We have a whole section of this website dedicated to them. Be safe out there!

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