The 19 Most Terrifying Animals in North America

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By Jonathan Trent

North America is home to many dangerous wild animals, and some people are faced with the possibility of having them in their own backyard. It always helps to be prepared when it comes to wildlife, so here are the 19 most terrifying animals found in North America that you should always avoid.

Grizzly Bear

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Grizzly Bears are found in many different terrains across North America, including forests and open land. Grizzly bears can reach up to 1,500 pounds, but don’t let their weight fool you, as they can still reach high speeds of 35 miles per hour. They’re at their most dangerous when they feel threatened.

Mountain Lion

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Mountain lions are extremely stealthy, which makes them more formidable, both for humans and their prey. Although they are usually found in remote wilderness, they can still wander into communities. CNN reports that although fatalities from mountain lion attacks are rare, they can still happen.

Timber Rattlesnake

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The Timber Rattlesnake is usually found in rocky or wooded areas. This venomous viper can be identified by its distinctive rattle, which sounds off as a warning. While it usually targets rodents, it can still be a threat to humans if its venomous bite isn’t treated immediately.

American Alligator

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Alligators are daunting animals, particularly due to their powerful jaws that can both trap their prey and drag them underwater to drown them. Although they aren’t known for attacking humans, spotting an American Alligator in murky water can be a chilling encounter.

Black Widow Spider

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One good thing about the black widow spider is that it’s very noticeable thanks to its distinctive red marking. This means you can hopefully identify it quickly in order to avoid it. If you encounter this dangerous spider lurking in woodpiles or sheds, you’re at risk of its neurotoxic venom.

Bull Shark

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The aggressive bull shark is all the more formidable due to its ability to thrive inland within freshwater as well as along the coast. National Geographic informs us that this species is among the most likely to attack humans. Their impressive size of 11 feet isn’t something you want to find yourself up against.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

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The eastern diamondback is the largest venomous snake in North America. You can recognize a diamondback due to the namesake pattern on its scales. This snake is usually found in coastal plains, and if you were ever unfortunate enough to be bitten by one, its venom is capable of causing tissue damage.

American Crocodile

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American crocodiles are known for their large size and aggressive nature. Similar to the American alligator, they have narrower snouts and can venture into saltwater. They can reach up to 20 feet in length, and their tendency to lurk in swamps can be a nasty surprise for many people.

Gray Wolf

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Gray wolves are extremely intelligent predators found in the North American wilderness. While one wolf alone would be intimidating enough, being faced with a whole pack is a terrifying prospect. They’re capable of bringing down prey even larger than themselves. Luckily, attacks on humans are rare, but take care if you are in their territory.

Brown Recluse Spider

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The clue’s in the name of this particular spider, as the brown recluse likes to hide away in dark spaces like closets or attics. Yet that makes it all the more scary when you accidentally come across one. This spider’s venomous bite can cause necrotic lesions, so any bite warrants immediate medical attention.

Eastern Cottonmouth

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Eastern cottonmouths are a species of snake with distinctive white mouths. They usually display this as an act of warning if they feel threatened. This snake is more formidable due to its wetland habitat, meaning caution is needed both on land and in water. Their potent venom is best avoided.

American Bison

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Because American Bisons are herbivores, you don’t need to worry about their bite or diet. But, they are capable of speeds up to 35 miles an hour and weigh 2,000 pounds. Therefore, the main threat to humans is being charged at or trampled.

American Black Bear

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The black bear is found in North American forests and is very speedy and strong. It’s most dangerous when it feels cornered or threatened, which can easily happen if a human steps into its territory. USA Today reports that 61 people have been killed by black bears in North America since 1900.

Eastern Coyote

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These predators are found roaming various habitats in North America, and due to their opportunistic nature, they’re often unpredictable. They’ve been known to venture into suburban areas, with family pets and livestock being at particular risk. The fact that these predators can—and do—venture into human territory is warning enough.

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

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The rattlesnake species is certainly not one to contend with, yet unfortunately for northern areas of America, there are many dangerous varieties. The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake is a viper known for its venom and fast striking speed.

American Bullfrog

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American Bullfrogs can be found in the wetlands across North America. While you might not have considered bullfrogs as a dangerous species, they are known to carry diseases. Not only that, they’re capable of consuming prey much larger than themselves.

Great White Shark

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If Jaws taught us anything, it’s that great white sharks can certainly be dangerous. Their sheer size and power make them one of the most intimidating apex predators in North America’s waters. Great Whites are one of the top three shark species known to attack humans, according to the Natural History Museum.


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The moose, the largest member of the deer family, is found in forests of North America. They’re not known for their outright aggression, but they’re particularly dangerous during mating season if they feel threatened by humans. The main risk is being charged at or trampled.

North American Porcupine

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Last but by no means least, the North American Porcupine is equipped with extremely sharp quills that can pose a threat. Despite their small stature, these animals can injure you by embedding their barbed quills into human flesh. It’s best to keep your distance if you spot one of these in the wild.