Africa’s Tiniest & Deadliest Creatures Revealed

by Sandy Salle on January 6, 2012

Most people planning a trip to Africa know that many of the large predators on the continent include lions and venomous snakes—but Africa is also home to many deadly creatures that are much smaller (NOTE: these creatures do not pose any serious threat to travelers. This post is intended to simply introduce you to some of these creatures that you will likely not come in contact with while traveling to Africa). Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous tiny creatures that call Africa home.

Six-Eyed Sand Spider: Found in sandy places (including deserts) in southern Africa, this eight-legged creature hides in the sand and strikes when an animal gets too close to its home. The bad news is that its venom can kill a rabbit in a matter of hours, but the good news is that no confirmed human bites have ever been reported. This deadly spider is also mercifully shy.

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Deathstalker Scorpion: Located throughout northern African countries, this brightly colored arachnid has the most highly toxic venom of any of its species. While healthy adults are not likely to die from a deathstalker’s sting, the elderly, very young, and those with medical conditions might be at risk. Luckily, a number of European pharmaceutical companies manufacture anti-venoms specifically for deathstalker bites.

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Mantella Poison Frogs: Concentrated largely in Madagascar, Mantella frogs have brightly colored skin that alerts other animals and humans to their toxic qualities. While a Mantella frog’s skin contains significant levels of toxins, humans are at little risk because their bright hues make these frogs easily avoidable.

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Blowfish: Known by many names (including pufferfish, toad fish, and sugar toads, among others), this spiky swimmer can be deadly to humans—but only when eaten. Though blowfish are found in some African water bodies, they are not generally served as food in this part of the world. (The Japanese, on the other hand, consider blowfish a delicacy and chefs in Japan train to learn how to prepare it so that it’s safe).

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Tarantula Hawk Wasp: Technically, this wasp is only deadly to tarantula spiders, but its behavior is too fascinating not to include in this list. Female hawk wasps prey on tarantulas; after stinging them, a wasp drags the paralyzed spider to her nest, where she lays an egg in the spider’s body. The egg matures and hatches in the tarantula, which remains alive the entire time! After consuming the spider’s body for nourishment, the baby hawk wasp emerges. Word to the wise: even though hawk wasps aren’t deadly to humans, their stings are considered among the most painful in the world.

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Staying Safe on an African Vacation

It’s important to remember that deadly animal species live on every inhabited continent—not just in Africa! Part of traveling safely and healthily is learning about the risks you might face on the road—and preparing to keep yourself well.

Loved this post? Check out one of our previous blog posts on Africa’s Most Dangerous Animals Revealed.

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