Most Dangerous Animals in Michigan: 7 Deadly Killers

30-second summary:

  • Michigan is home to some very dangerous wildlife!
  • Its very important to know what to do if you encounter one, where these animals live and what they look like.
  • The most common type of dangerous animal in Michigan are spiders.
  • The recluse spider and black widow spider can be toxic to humans.
  • Ticks, mosquitos and snakes are also common threats in Michigan

From venomous snakes to deadly spiders, Michigan is home to some very dangerous wildlife. Now, we don’t want to put you off visiting Michigan because it’s a great place to jet off to, but in this article we’re going to be telling you about the 7 most dangerous animals in Michigan, so if you do happen to stumble across one, there won’t be any need to look up what it is on Google.

We’ll let you know what these animals look like, where they live and most importantly, what to do if you get bitten by one.

So, let’s see what the 7 most dangerous animals in Michigan are!

Brown Recluse Spider:

We would apologise for starting off this list speaking about a spider, but we’re sorry to say that there are a lot of spiders in Michigan so there’s going to be a few of your most dreaded eight-legged ‘friends’ to follow – sorry not sorry.

These spiders can live for up to two years and grow anywhere from 0.6 – 2cm. There has been some confusion about people spotting brown recluse spiders in Michigan, with the majority that people spot not actually being a brown recluse. The easiest way to spot one of these is to look on the spider’s main body as there should be a violin-shaped mark. The spiders can be a sandy to dark brown colour with hints of yellow.

Brown recluse spiders are found in nine Michigan counties which are: Hillsdale, Ingham, Kent, Lenawee, Livingston, Oakland, Shiawassee, Washtenaw and Wayne. These spiders are nocturnal, and they’re most commonly found outside around rocks and hollow logs and they can unfortunately be found indoors too living in undisturbed areas such as boxes, under furniture, attics and garages.

What Happens When They Bite?

Brown recluses are only aggressive if something is agitating them but If you do happen to get bitten by this spider then nine times out of ten, you won’t even know it’s happened. Symptoms of venom poisoning will occur a few hours after the bite has happened and you might feel pain, burning or itching around the bite, a white blister may also form.

If this does happen, call the doctor immediately. The best way to avoid further infection is to wash the bite with soap, after, apply an icepack to the wound to help with the swelling.

So, that’s number one in our list of the 7 most dangerous animals in Michigan. Read on to find out about the second!

Most Dangerous Animals in Michigan: 7 Deadly Killers
Photo credit: Timothy Dykes via Unsplash

Black Widow Spider:

Apologies again that our second most dangerous animal in Michigan is yet again another spider. A black widow is probably one of the most common species of spider that you have heard of, right? So, there’s three species of black widows and the most common found in Michigan is the Northern black widows.

Northern black widows are most commonly found outside in hollow logs, sheds, fence posts and in abandoned animal burrows. Black widows have very distinctive features so it’s pretty easy to spot one of these. They are notorious for their hourglass shape on their abdomen which is shiny with red spots.

Black widows can grow to be 2.5cm long and can live for up to three years! If you’ve ever wondered where the name comes from, it’s because after the female has finished mating with the male, she will then eat him – really, it’s true!

These poisonous spiders will prey on insects. They will make a small puncture in the insects body and will then suck out the liquid inside. Black widows can be attacked by mud dauber wasps and other insects. If you happen to come across a black widow, then you’ll be happy to know that they aren’t aggressive towards humans but if they feel threatened then they will bite.

Will You Need To Seek Medical Attention if Bitten?

You’ll know if you’ve been bitten by one as the black widow bites produces muscle pain, nausea and mild paralysis of the diaphragm, which makes breathing difficult. There will probably be burning, swelling and redness. These bites can be fatal in young children and elderly people so get it checked out as soon as possible.

So, the black widow is the second of our most dangerous animals in Michigan, but what could number thee be? We promise it won’t be a spider!

Black widow spider most dangerous animals in michigan
Photo credit: Skeeze via Pixabay

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake:

A massasauga rattlesnake is a small snake with a thick body that can grow in length up to 2 feet! They have a heart-shaped head and vertical pupils – not the type of snake that you’ll want to bump into. They have also been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

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These snakes are most commonly found in wet areas such as prairies, marshes and low areas along rivers and lakes. Unlike other rattlesnakes, massasaugas hibernate alone and they can be found under logs, tree roots, crayfish burrows or in small mammal burrows.

A massasauga is a smart reptile and will find their prey by feeling vibrations, by sensing heat given off by their prey and by detecting chemicals given off by the animal. They will eat mice, frogs, voles and sometimes even other snakes! They will sit and wait until their eyes have caught sight of something.

Snake Attacks

This snake will only attack you if it feels threatened. A massasauga will rely on its camouflage coloration to hide or will try to escape rather than attack someone. Many people in the US are said to have walked past this snake without even realising it was there.

There are only two reported bite cases each year in Michigan involving these snakes but if you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by one then this could not only be extremely painful but also be life threatening. The venom from the massasauga is more toxic than that of most other rattlesnakes, but the amount it injects is relatively small compared to those snakes.

The venom can damage body tissue and affect your circulatory system by destroying skin tissues and blood cells and by causing you to haemorrhage internally. You will usually experience pain, swelling bruising and tingling. If this does occur, seek medical attention immediately.

So, that’s our third animal, can you guess what our fourth most dangerous animal in Michigan will be?

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Most Dangerous Animals in Michigan: 7 Deadly Killers
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Small Brown Ticks:

An animal you might not associate with being dangerous like spiders and snakes, but ticks are extremely dangerous and full of diseases which don’t only affect humans but also animals.

There are over 20 know species of ticks in Michigan and they can be found in upper peninsula in Michigan in grassy areas, woodland areas or fields. Ticks are rarely found indoors unless brought inside on clothing or on the body of a pet. There are several species of ticks which have been known to bite people and pets.

It may seem a little obvious but small brown ticks are a reddish brown colour with a narrow shape in comparison to other ticks. They can vary in size and be as small as 1mm and grown to be as big as 1cm. Their bodies become larger and darker when it starts to fill with blood.

Lyme Disease:

Not all ticks carry diseases but if you are bitten by one then Lyme disease is the most common. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection in the skin that is spread to humans by infected ticks. Ticks will feed on the blood of mammals and humans. A tick bite is usually painless but a sign you have been bitten will be a rash, tiredness, joint pain or flu-like symptoms.

If untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of the body, even years after first getting bitten which is likely to cause arthritis and nervous system problems. When you first notice a tick in your body, go and see a doctor as they can prescribe antibiotics for two to four weeks, sometimes even longer.

We’re now over halfway in telling you about the 7 most dangerous animals in Michigan. Let’s have a look and see what number five could be shall we?

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Brown tick
Photo credit: Emphyrio via Pixabay

Blacklegged Ticks:

A backlegged tick or most commonly known as a deer tick is a dangerous pests, a bit like the small brown tick. These ticks are known for their dark legs and are called deer ticks because their preferred adult victim is the white-tailed deer.

The backlegged ticks are oval shape with eight legs, an orangey brown colour and are 1mm-1cm in length which can sometimes make it difficult to see if there’s one inside the skin. These ticks will live grassy areas such as forests, fields and shrubs.

In the winter months, blacklegged ticks will feed on the blood of white tailed deers. It will then move on in the springtime and will deposit around 3,000 eggs! Baby ticks will feed on mice, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, dogs, humans and birds.

If this tick is feeding on a human then its favourite place will be at the back of the neck, at the base of the skull; long hair will make it trickier to feed on though. Just like with the small brown ticks or any ticks for that matter, if a tick gets into your skin then there’s a chance you could get Lyme disease.

So, if you or even a pet has a tick inside the skin, go and see a doctor so that they can remove the tick and give antibiotics to clear up and infection inside the body.

Our next most dangerous animal in Michigan is something that we will probably all have to experience when we jet off to a hot country, have you guessed what it is yet?

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Deer tick
Photo credit: Erik Karits via Unsplash


Mosquitoes are a nuisance when you’re on holiday and they’re flying around everywhere. We’re sure that as you’re reading, you’re un-enjoyably reminiscing about a time that you got bitten pretty badly, right? Whilst about 90 percent of us have probably been bitten by a mosquito, they can extremely fatal in Michigan!

There are over 60 different species of mosquitoes living in Michigan! Yes, you heard that right, 60! – We’re itching just thinking about that! So it’s important that you’ve packed a load of spray and nets with you. Mosquitoes like swamps and forests and are most active on still, humid days.

Although spray and nets are important, the danger of mosquitos and protecting yourself goes a lot further than that. Most mosquitos carry infectious diseases and you will only get bitten by a female as she needs blood to develop eggs – males will feed on plant nectar and juice.

Mosquito Viruses:

The two most dangerous diseases a mosquito can carry are west Nile virus and the EEE virus. Let’s have a look at them in more detail:

West Nile virus: This virus is not contagious and is spread by mosquitos biting humans and the infection will usually go away without it being treated. Very young and elderly people, and people with conditions like diabetes are more at risk of developing severe infection. Symptoms can include confusion, seizures and muscle weakness so seek medical help if you may have this.

EEE virus: Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a serious infection that can be life threatening. The virus is carried primarily by mosquitos, which can give it to birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals – most notably, horses. EEE can travel from a mosquito bite through the bloodstream to the membranes around the spinal cord and brain so seek medical advice immediately if you have this!

Six down one to go! Let’s see what our last most dangerous animal in Michigan is!

Photo credit: Syed Ali via Unsplash

Paper Wasp:

The most common type of paper wasp in Michigan is actually the common paper wasp!

Paper wasps are vespid wasps that gather fibres from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct nests made of grey or brown papery material – which is where their name comes from. They are a brownish colour with red markings and have six very long legs. Their average length is 16-20mm

If you find a paper wasp nest in the garden, never attempt to move it by yourself, even if you think that the wasps might not be in there. It’s always better to get a professional to remove as they know what to do and will be wearing suitable clothing and safety masks.

Just like most of the animals we’ve mentioned, paper wasps will generally only attack if they feel threatened or they think that their nests will be threatened. Paper wasps’ stings are generally very painful, and they can also lead to an anaphylactic (allergic) reaction. The sting will become very red and swollen so clean the area with soap and cold water.

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Paper Wasp
Photo credit: Sandy Millar via Unsplash

What Is the Most Dangerous Animal in Michigan?

All the animals we’ve talked about pose a threat to humans, but the most dangerous animal in Michigan on our list is the black widow. This spider is the most venomous animal in Michigan so if you do come across one, remember to never touch it or agitate it, otherwise it’s more than likely that it will bite you.

Whilst bites are rare in Michigan, you’ll usually see the repercussions within 30-60 minutes after the bite. So, remember to seek medical advice straight away!

Does Michigan Have Poisonous Snakes?

As mentioned in our list, the massasauga rattlesnake is Michigans only poisonous snake, so you can relax now by knowing that Michigan isn’t filled with hundreds of venomous snakes. Remember that this rattle snake will only bite you if it feels threatened, so if you do come across one, keep your distance as it’s not there to cause harm.

Are There Alligators in Michigan?

Alligators are not commonly associated with Michigan but there have been reports of alligator sightings in Lake Michigan a few years ago. The four foot alligator was found by a fisherman but was later taken into the care of the Wildlife Discovery Centre. This is highly unusual for as tropical alligators can’t survive for long in cold water like Lake Michigan. The reptiles are most active when temperatures are 82 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

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We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading more about the 7 most dangerous animals in Michigan. If you’re looking to escape somewhere that won’t have these animals then how about 10 days in Cuba?

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers