What is the most dangerous land animal in the world?

There are few things that bring us more fear than the idea of a dangerous animal, waiting for us out there in the wild. Yet, statistically, the most dangerous land animal in the world is neither carnivorous nor vindictive.

Horses and hippos are both extremely dangerous animals.
Horses and hippos are both extremely dangerous animals.  © Collage: Unsplash/Vivian Arcidiacono/Leif Linding

When you think of a dangerous animal, you probably think of a shark or maybe a crocodile. Hippos are also a possible contender, because the seemingly cute and cuddly creatures are some of the most violent and nasty brutes in the world. What will shock you to know, though, is that the most dangerous land animal in the world is something completely different.

So, statistically, what's the world record holder for most dangerous land animal? TAG24 takes a look at the most dangerous land animal in the world and why it's considered so worrisome.

What is the world's most dangerous land animal?

When talking about how dangerous an animal is, you cannot simply focus on how lethal the creature's bite is, how likely it is to eat you, or how tight it can squeeze your neck. Instead, you need to look at how likely it is that an individual will die on account of that animal each and every day.

Seeing as there are many animals in the world, some herbivores and some carnivores, some aggressive and some docile, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "Oh, hey, lions are big and strong predators capable of some real damage." The problem with this argument is that not many people are going to encounter a lion in everyday life, are they?

What they might encounter, though, are horses. These four-hoofed mammals create absolute havoc when they're let loose in nature, can do a lot of damage when under the control of police, and cause hundreds of casualties every year.

Many of these casualties are just simply from people who have gone horseback riding and had a terrible accident. These deaths are not usually the fault of the rider or passerby, at least not most of the time, and are just the result of a stray hoof, a bad fall, or an accidental trampling.

Horses are docile and calm beasts and, on the whole quite, very friendly towards humans and profoundly intelligent, but that doesn't make them safe.

Posing a higher risk than football, car or motorbike racing, horses cause more than 700 deaths every year just from equestrian activities alone. When calculated with the addition of wild horses and car-related horse collisions, it is widely believed that this makes the humble horse one of – if not the most – dangerous animal in the world.

Horses aren't innately dangerous, but they kill the most people.
Horses aren't innately dangerous, but they kill the most people.  © Unsplash/Vladimir Vujeva

Why is the horse so dangerous?

Research completed by Kevin Mutore, Jiyun Lim, and Demba Fofana (et al.) and published by Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open in 2021 revealed why horses are seen as so dangerous. It was determined that the main reason why horses are considered so dangerous is the propensity for them to cause serious head and chest injuries.

According to the data, out of the injured people sampled (approx. 21,000), about 37% suffered from chest injuries and 23% from head injuries, making up about half. Of those looked at in the study, about 3.5% suffered from severe neurological damage. Considering the fact that many similar injuries occasioned death, and 320 people involved with the study consequently died from their injuries, it's not hard to draw conclusions.

On top of that, while equestrian activities are by far the biggest cause of horse-related injury, there's also the potential harm that wild horses can pose. They are big and strong creatures, and capable of doing a lot of damage when panicked or threatened. In countries with high quantities of wild horses, there is also an increased risk of traffic collisions due to their unpredictability near roads.

Ultimately, horses are considered to be dangerous due to the high likelihood of injury associated with equestrian sports. They hurt and kill far more people each year than any other land animal or mammal, even if they're considerably less fearsome.

Wait, aren't hippos more dangerous?

Hippos are some of the heaviest and deadliest animals in the world, often weighing more than two-to-three tons, and are easily capable of crushing humans to death. They also house some of the strongest jaws in the business and are capable of crushing a person as if they were a Twix bar.

Despite this, and while they do result in around 500 deaths every year, they are not the world's most dangerous animal. While they are extremely aggressive and territorial, and deadly if angered, if you take a purely statistical angle, horses take the ticket by far.

Cover photo: Collage: Unsplash/Vivian Arcidiacono/Leif Linding

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