Whether a visit to Australia sits at the top of our bucket list, or a trip to the Land Down Under seems utterly terrifying because we can't get that video of a carpet python devouring a bird out of our head, it can't be denied that the nation truly is a place beyond compare.
With vast plains and varying regional ecosystems, Australia is home to some of the most unique wildlife on the planet. But, for every animal that seems fluffy and adorable on the outside (we're looking at you, Mr. Quokka), there is a handful that would send even the most adventurous Aussies running flat-out for the hills (that's you, Mrs. Bird-eating spider).
Grab some flip-flops, slap on some sunscreen, throw a shrimp on the barbie and buckle up for a wild ride through Australia's animal kingdom (but don't forget the anti-venom).
10 Deadly: The box jellyfish
While these creatures may look relatively harmless on the outside, they are truly anything but innocent. Capable of growing up to 10 feet long and 10 inches across, they are one of the most deadly species on the entire planet, let alone Australia. Usually found off the coast of tropical Queensland (mostly in the Far North region), the Box Jellyfish do their damage during the warmer months.
Of course, this spells trouble for any beach enthusiasts, especially when we're already dealing with an array of intimidating sea creatures including invading Bluebottles and various special of territorial, menacing sharks. Even the most seasoned Aussie would keep as far away as possible from these lethal ocean-dwellers.
9 Too Cute: The quokka
These little guys have a reputation as one of the world's most photogenic animals. So, it only makes sense that tourists who flock from all over the nation (and the globe) go to extreme lengths in order to walk away with a selfie next to this grinning marsupial. They are mostly native to Rottnest Island, a popular holiday destination which is just a short ferry ride from Fremantle in Western Australia.
For those who refuse to leave Rottnest without a selfie, Nature Austalia's tips for getting the perfect photo include being patient, visiting during the early morning or early evening, and to avoid touching them (as tempting as that might be).
8 Deadly: The Irukandji jellyfish
While we might have been intimidated by the sheer size of the box jellyfish, it just doesn't seem fair that despite the Irukandji's minuscule comparative size, it is just as lethal. Its bell is usually only the size of a fingernail, which makes seeing them when swimming almost impossible.
During 'stinger season' - the hotter Australian months (November to May) - these tiny punch-packing sea creatures force the closure of countless beaches. A sting from one of these guys has the potential of leading to fatal case of Irukandji syndrome, which, according to BarrierReef Australia, presents symptoms of "a lower backache or a headache, overall body pain, muscular cramps or shooting pains in the victim’s muscles, chest and abdomen, nausea, vomiting, [and] breathing difficulties."
Uh, no thanks.
7 Too Cute: The koala
Just as no visit to Australia is complete without a visit to one of the local zoos to examine the country's indigenous species, no list of incredibly cute animals would feel right without mention of the much-beloved koala. The sleepy, furry, herbivorous marsupials live up in the Eucalyptus trees and spend the majority of their days simply loafing around.
They are mostly found across the eastern side of the country, although they've also been spotted out west in the Perth area as well. Unfortunately, these little critters are threatened in the wild thanks to urbanization and human development, but thankfully, constant efforts are being made to preserve their habitat.
6 Deadly: The blue-ringed octopus
Coming in at a diameter of just under 5 inches, this tentacled sea creature may seem rather harmless. Generally, that statement rings true, as it is not an aggressive animal by nature. It's happy to go about its daily routine, staying away from humans and just living its innocent and underwhelming seafloor life.
However, there is a catch. If disturbed, these animals carry enough venom to kill 26 humans within minutes, and that sounds like a perfect recipe for everything to go awry. When stung, the victim's body begins to shut down, leaving the person paralyzed within minutes. To add to the intimidation, its blue rings only appear when the animal has been disturbed, making it hard to distinguish from other underwater creatures at first glance.
5 Too Cute: The tree kangaroo
As one of the two animals on the Australian coat of arms, the world-renown kangaroo is a symbol of the nation. That being said, with bulging muscles and floppy clown-sized feet, it's not exactly the fluffiest, cutest animal in the land. So, what does Australia do? They take the iconic kangaroo and throw it up to the treetops!
Okay, that's not exactly how it goes, but there are several species of this marsupial that do cradle the branches. The tree kangaroo is found in Papua New Guinea and in certain parts of Queensland. Honestly, it looks like a perfect mesh of half-kangaroo and half-koala.
4 Deadly: The bull shark
No list of intimidating or deadly Australian animals would be complete without a shark, right? Despite there being countless species of shark off the various Australian coasts, the Bull shark deserves highlighting for its predatorial nature and aggression. The combination of being highly territorial, its severe lack of tolerance for being provoked, and a preference for a shallow water habitat, make this particular species more dangerous and intimidating than any other shark species.
The fast, agile bull shark will eat almost anything it lays its eyes on, and while humans aren't a common menu item, it hasn't stopped these creatures from trying.
3 Too Cute: The Wallaby
Just like a kangaroo, only smaller. That's the bite-sized summary of the wallaby, another beloved Australian creature. Or, perhaps it's more like a quokka, only bigger? Well, whichever way we look at it, it's almost impossible to mount a case that denies the fact that this ball of fluff is as cute as they come.
Similarly to their kangaroo relatives, wallabies have powerful hind legs and a pouch for their young to nest (only in females). These friendly marsupials are herbivorous, snacking on things such as plants, seeds, fruits, and herbs. While they are also found in a small number of other countries, they'll always carry the Aussie label.
2 Deadly: The eastern brown snake
In a land full of dangerous animals, where stereotypes of snakes and spiders around every corner run rampant, the menacing eastern brown snake boasts the title of one of Australia's most deadly slithering creatures. The species is not localized to one particular region but appears in various locations all over the eastern part of the country, including built-up areas full of human.
This widespread habitat combined with a lethal venom and paralysis-inducing bite makes the eastern brown, without a doubt, a true killer. According to the National Coronial Information Service, this particular species is responsible for 65 percent of all snake-related Australian deaths (via TheWest).
1 Too Cute: The Tasmanian devil
We know, we know. How can the carnivorous, notoriously aggressive, foul-smelling, anti-social Tasmanian devil fall into the 'cute' category. Well, for one reason and one reason only: just look at it! That might seem a little superficial on our part, but there's no way that these creatures resemble the manic craziness depicted by the Looney Tunes character, Taz.
On face value, it's hard to argue that Tassie devil can't be considered cute, but in saying that, it's probably wise to still keep a distance. Unfortunately, these creatures are listed as endangered and despite once living throughout Australia, are now only found in Tasmania.