I’ve written before about the deadliest creatures in Australia, the ones that are blatantly trying to kill you, or not, however you interpret it. I’ve also written satirical articles on why Australia is one of the deadliest places in the world. This time though I’m writing about something that fits somewhere in the middle – the fact that horses are deadlier than pretty much any other animal you can find in the wild in Australia.
It turns out, horses have killed more people in Australia than all of the venomous critters combined. Granted, this is over the last 16 years (the data runs between 2000 and 2013), and would probably have been reversed before there was widespread access to antivenom.
Despite being known as the home of the most venomous creatures, I find it quite surprising that they aren’t actually the culprit of most injuries and deaths. It’s a similar case to that of sharks and crocodiles vs cows that you hear around the world. If you give it some thought, the more time spent around an animal the more likely it is to kill you – bovine friend or otherwise.
But why not look at some of the numbers?
Between 2000 and 2013, there were a reported 74 deaths caused by horses. I’ve no idea if this is people getting trampled, falling off, being kicked or any other gruesome way that death-by-horse can occur.
The next most dangerous being the stinging bees and insects which, equaling snakes, caused 27 deaths. That’s almost 1/3 of the damage caused by horses.
Surprisingly, our arachnid house-guests weren’t responsible for a single death in this period. I’m guessing that trapdoor spiders living in your sun visor and scaring the shit out of you as they drop onto your lap and cause you to crash you car aren’t counted here.
Other deaths were attributed to ticks and ants (5), marine animals (3 – and all box jellyfish) and then the final 2 to “Unknown animals and plants”.
If you work that out you get a grand total of 64 deaths to animals and plants in Australia that weren’t horses. Let that sink in.
However, that’s not to say that those venomous creatures didn’t hospitalise people or cause serious injuries – it just means that they didn’t actually cause any deaths. To put that into perspective, although spiders weren’t responsible for deaths, they were responsible for 11,994 hospital visits. That’s almost double the 6,123 visits that were caused by snakes, who as mentioned were responsible for 27 deaths.
Healthcare staff 1 – 0 Aussie wildlife
So before you decide to put off that trek through the outback because you might get bitten by a creepie crawlie – remember that they’ve not managed to kill anyone for a while and I’m sure the flying doctors will do their utmost to keep you in the land of the living. Alternatively, don’t avoid a ride on a jet ski for fear of being stung by a box jellyfish. Do however, avoid swimming anywhere that warns you about saltwater crocodiles. They really do kill people.