Colombia is home to some pretty amazing wildlife, and is well known for having some of the most diverse wildlife out there. Which means you are also going to come across a fair few fearsome foes too! From large predators to tiny insects, there is something in every species that could land you in trouble.
This is why we have compiled for you the 7 deadliest creatures in Colombia. These are the dangerous animals that you should avoid at all costs!
We answer those burning questions like, which animal is the strongest? Which animal has the most understated power? And which are the ones we can find in towns and cities? Yes, simply avoiding the jungle wont help you, most of these beasts can be found in the most unexpected places! So, grab a pillow (to hide behind) and join us on our wild ride of dangerous animals Colombia!
Top 7 Dangerous Animals in Colombia
As we have already seen, the variety of Colombian wildlife is breathtaking. With 300 species of snake alone, one has to wonder just what else is out there? Well, without any further delay lets get into the nitty gritty. There are sure to be some to fascinate, and some to fear. We certainly have a few in each camp!
Equis Snake (Bothrops Asper)
You will find this invertebrate all-over south and central America, and in every location its reputation precedes it. Also known as the Fer de Lance, its fearsome status is due to both its venomous bite, and the fact that it loves to dwell near people. This is generally due to the abundance of rodents, the odd bird and small mammals that congregate near a constant food supply. The snakes love to eat them, but they are also fairly aggressive to larger prey, like humans! If feeling provoked, they would have no problem striking before you even know what has happened.
These reptiles can grow to 6 foot long, and are discerned by their telltale scales, which often forms an ‘X’ pattern over the body. This member of the pit viper family can deliver some pretty gross symptoms in its bite. Necrosis being one: the deterioration or ‘death’ of skin cells, which can lead to gangrene or even amputation of the limb, if left too long. Other symptoms include headaches, nausea and/or vomiting, fever, hallucinations, gastrointestinal bleeding, and hypotension amongst others. If you get to a shot of anti-venom quickly enough, chances of returning to full health are high.
In the snake world, these creatures have the highest rate of attacks on humans. Around two thirds of all snake bites reported in Colombia come from the equis snake, making one of the most dangerous animals to watch out for. They are quick, fierce and have even been seen to shoot jets of venom at victims! Though this would only be dangerous if it gets into the eyes, mouth or an open wound.
Poison Dart Frog (Phyllobates Terribilis)
Though small in stature, these frogs are the equivalent of the atom bomb. Also referred to as golden poison dart frog or the golden poison frog, whilst not venomous, it is poisonous. In fact, it has enough toxin coating its skin to kill around 20 humans, by touch alone! No nasty pincers or mighty sting. This is more of a defence mechanism than a predatory action, designed to ward off would be predators. When touched or ingested, the alkaloid toxin stops the nerves from directing signals, causing muscles to constantly contract involuntarily. When it reaches the heart, this can prove fatal.
The bizarre thing about these little frogs is that they draw poison from the insects they eat. A diet high in certain alkaloids causes the production and secretion of this toxin. The poison dart frog lives on Colombia’s Pacific coast, and comes in all manner of vivid colours, including green, yellow and orange. So, if you see a brightly coloured amphibian, it is best to avoid it like the plague! The most poisonous frog in the world has most certainly earned its place in this list of the most dangerous animals in Colombia.
Scorpion (Centruroides Noxius & C.Suffusus)
With many species of scorpion existing in Colombia, you can be thankful that there are only two to worry about. Others will give you a sting similar to that of a bee or wasp, whereas these two have a toxic venom that can cause many issues. Whilst said to be native to Mexico, the Centruroides noxius and c.suffusus scorpions are also amongst the most dangerous animals in Colombia.
The venom from a scorpion sting affects the potassium and sodium channels in the body, causing muscle damage and paralysis. In extreme cases a sting could cause heart failure, though this is likely only if left untreated.
To avoid an incident, shake out your clothes in the morning before putting them on. Perhaps stuff items in your shoes before bed, to avoid a scorpion being found inside! Especially if you are staying in the wilderness or outside of the city. These guys are more active at night, so this is when you’re more likely to run into one.
Banana Spider (Phoneutria Fera)
An arachnid that goes by many names is usually the most terrifying. The Banana Spider, AKA the Brazilian wandering spider, AKA the ‘murderess’. In the stakes of dangerous animals in Colombia, this is top of the pile! It can grow to a shocking 15cm leg span, and is identified by its dusty brown colouration and penchant for raising its front legs in defence. During the day it likes to hide in shady spots, and large plants. They have even been known to come across the pacific in Banana boxes, hence the name Banana Spider.
However, it gains another name from its penchant for wandering across floors at night looking for places to hide. It can often take a liking to boots and other clothing. Many people take to stretching socks over their boots to avoid any nasty morning surprises.
Its living habits, proximity to humans, and aggressive nature make it rather dangerous. If bitten, the venom delivered can prove fatal, especially to animals and children. The neurotoxin in their venom holds around twenty times more potency than that of the black widow. If untreated, symptoms can include shortness of breath, muscle spasms or paralysis, hallucinations and hypertension. In some cases respiratory paralysis can prove fatal, though the good news is anti-venom is widely available in hospitals and treatment rooms.
Bullet Ant (Paraponera Clavata)
This insect earned its place on the list by its name, which highlights its reputation. The sting of the bullet ant is said to be so painful, it feels like you’ve been shot! And they look like they are primed to do damage too. The sting is loaded with a poneratoxin, a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis in the victim, and blinding pain that can last up to 12 hours. The sensation is said to be a level 4 on the Schmidt sting pain index, and there is no level 5!
You will find these soldier insects on the floors of forests and jungles, in bushes and on bark. They will search all day for food to bring back to the nest, and if you cross them they are known to be aggressive. Rival colonies are always at war, so they are not shy of a fight. Even if your are thousands of times its size.
Whilst the pain is agonising, it is luckily not lethal. Though you can in some extreme cases go into anaphylactic shock. In fact, some tribes and villages have an initiation process for young warriors whereby they wear a glove full of bullet ants! After they’ve put it on, they spend five minutes enduring the repeated stings to earn the respect of their elders!
Black Caiman Crocodile (Melanosuchus Niger)
Whilst there are a few varieties out there in the world, this is the most common crocodile in Colombia. And therefore responsible for the most deaths. If you find yourself by a river, or any area of fresh water in Colombia, watch out for these beasts! Their dark reptilian skin merges well with their natural habitat. In water, their strength and agility makes them not just one of the most dangerous animals in Colombia, but on the planet.
Adults can grow to between 16 and 20ft in length, making them the largest predator in the Amazonian ecosystem. They generally prey on smaller mammals, fish and birds, though they have also eaten smaller species of croc, and even some of their own kind! The fearsome strength in their jaw is enough to crush a turtle shell to pieces. They would certainly make short work of a human, though it would thankfully be over quick! Thankfully they appear to be more active at night, leaving the days for basking in the sun.
Giant Otter (Pteronura Brasiliensis)
You might laugh at the notion of this animal being deadly, but thats exactly why they’re included here! The giant otter can grow to 6 foot in length, and is fiercely territorial. The similarities between the South American otter and other smaller species, however, makes them appear cute and approachable. Avoid them!
Whilst they largely eat fish, small mammals and crustaceans, there have been some documented cases of group attacks on humans. In one report, a soldier jumped into the Amazon river to save a child and was attacked by six adult otters! The child survived, but the soldier died of his injuries in hospital. One pair of sharp teeth are enough to cause serious damage. No one wants to be on the sharp end of an otter gang attack!
The good news is they stick to the banks of the Amazon river, the Pantanal and the Orinoco river in Colombia. The bad news is they are mercilessly hunted for their pelts, so wild enclaves are critically endangered. In fact, they are now a protected species in much of South America.
Are there snakes in Colombia?
There are over 300 species of snake, throughout six separate families, throughout Colombia. Snakes are so prevalent, in fact, that a fossil of the largest invertebrate in the world, the Titanboa, was discovered in the northeast of the country, and it was 40 foot long!
You wont find any snakes this size in Colombia today, though there are definitely a few to be fearful of.
Are There Tigers in Colombia?
Tigers are not native to the wilds of Colombia, or in the entirety of the South Americas for that matter. Though you will find a couple in in the Zoológico de Cali, in Colombia. The tiger’s natural habitat is in areas further east, such as the mainland of the Asian continent, India, and larger species in colder areas such as Russia.
Whilst you might also find Chinese and Bengal species on the African continent, these were all imported for Zoo’s or personal collections. Some were later released to the wild, hence their current habitation of the continent.
So sadly you wont find these magnificent beasts on our list of dangerous animals in Colombia. But this begs the question, are there any big cats lurking in the Colombian wilds?
Are There Jaguars in Colombia?
Jaguars can certainly be found in Colombia! As the largest big cat on the continent, their power and bite rivals that of the Puma. Their jaws are so powerful that it can bite through the shells of reptiles! The power move of this big cat is crushing the skull of its prey between its teeth before dining.
So yes, we can certainly attest there are Jaguars in the wilds of Colombia. But whilst their reputation is fearsome, you wont find them in our list of dangerous animals in Colombia. No doubt they could kill a human with ease, yet the likelihood of meeting a jaguar on your travels is slim. They tend to dwell in the Colombian jungle, avoiding all contact with humans where possible. Incidents of attacks so minimal that it amounts to less that one death every year.
Aside from the Jaguar and Puma, South America and Colombia are also home to some little big cats, the Ocelot and the Jaguarundi. Whilst not as powerful, they will still attack if they feel threatened. Luckily for us, they tend to avoid us as much as the Jaguar.
Colombia: Land of the Dangerous and Diverse!
As we have seen, when it comes to dangerous animals in Colombia, size does not mean a thing! From the bullet ants of the forests and golden poison frog of the Pacific coast, to the Jaguars and Crocodiles of the rainforest. Especially the snakes and spiders that lurk near towns and villages. There is danger around every corner it seems!
However, forewarned is forearmed, and this list will serve you well when you do visit beautiful Colombia. Share this with your travel buddies, and keep it saved for later reference. Don’t let a bevvy of dangerous beasts spoil your wanderlust.
As long as you are careful, check your clothes (especially the shoes!) and be mindful when walking in wild areas, you should be able to see any lurking monsters before they get too close. Colombia has so much to offer, and even a run in with one of these would make a great story!