Get ready to encounter the most dangerous animals in Vietnam. From teeth-snapping saltwater crocs to slithering snakes you’d probably prefer not to meet on your jungle trek, this list has the whole lot.
Some do their damage with neurotoxins and venoms, biting their victims when they least expect it. Others are more brutal beasts, with chomping jaws evolved to slice through living flesh.
These various animals reside all over Vietnam. From the sloshing mud waters of the Mekong Delta to the glowing lagoons of Ha Long Bay to the misty rice paddies up by Sa Pa and beyond, they inhabit this buzzing country of rickshaws and incense-plumed temples from tip to toe. They’re worth knowing about before you set off on your Indochina adventure, don’t you think?
Saltwater crocodile – the biggest of the crocodiles in Vietnam!
Behold the largest living reptile on the planet! Yep, the monstrous saltwater crocodile is like something plucked straight out of the age of the dinosaurs. In fact, the main stem of the species is thought to be a whopping 25 million years old, with regional adaptations coming around 10 million years ago to give this Vietnamese beast the features seen today.
Commonly found at: Riverways and jungles
Average Length: 6 meters
Average weight: 200 kilograms
Life cycle: Like most crocs, saltwater crocodiles hatch from eggs and then stay with their mothers until adulthood.
Diet: Fish and small mammals.
Cultural significance(if any): The saltwater crocodile is the biggest crocodile species in Vietnam.
They include a wide, flat nose snout that dwarves the facial features of other crocs, along with a leaner, more muscular body shape than their African compadres. On top of that, the saltwater crocs of Nam’ can get huge. We’re talking six metres in length and over half a tonne in weight. The head alone is thought to weigh in at 200kg or so!
Saltwater crocs don’t have the best relationship with humans. They’re extremely territorial and aggressive by nature. Official figures say they’re responsible for around two fatal attacks every year in Australia alone. On the flip side, these guys are now largely extinct in Vietnam today. They do have some habitat coverage around the northern wetlands by China and have popped up recently in the southerly provinces of close-by Thailand to boot.
Vietnam is the very heart of king cobra territory. Arguably the most fearsome snake on the planet, these guys range from the Western Ghats of India in the west all the way to the sun-splashed isles of the Philippines in the east. Indochina sits right there in the middle, touting all the humid forests and jungle coverage the animal could ask for.
Commonly found at: Jungles and rainforest in Southeast Asia
Average Length: 18 feet
Average weight: 12 kilograms
Life cycle: Cobras hatch from eggs which are incubated by their mothers. The snakes can live up to 30 years.
Diet: Eggs, small mammals and other snakes
Cultural significance(if any): Cobras appear in many legends associated with Hindu Gods.
King cobras are pretty darn big. The largest specimens have clocked up well over five metres from snout to tail tip, with total bodyweights peeking over 12kg. Their most iconic features are the olive-green hue and the chevron back pattern that’s present on younger individuals. Oh, and you also get that don’t-even-think-about-coming-close hood, which fans out from either side of the head and neck.
Bites from these uber-dangerous snakes are often fatal. Estimations put the death rate of bitten individuals at around the 28% mark. That’s down to a debilitating neurotoxin venom, which works to shut down the central nervous system and causes breathing difficulties, drowsiness and vertigo. And while the venom itself isn’t the most potent in the world, the king cobra is often known to overdose victims with enough to kill up to 20 people at any one time!
Vietnamese giant centipede
The Vietnamese giant centipede really does deserve its name. It’s huge! Anyone squeamish for bugs certainly won’t crave an encounter with these beasts. They’re also known as Chinese red-headed centipede and the orange-legged centipede, and can grow to a whopping 20cm from tip to toe. They’re found all across Southeast Asia and South Asia, from Indonesia to the jungles of Borneo to – of course – backcountry Vietnam.
Commonly found at: Rural areas and large cities.
Average Length: 20cm
Average weight: Unknown
Life cycle: Young centipedes will molt each year, for 3 to 4 years, until reaching full adult size. They will then continue the species by mating .
Diet: Mice and other small animals
Cultural significance(if any): Vietnamese centipedes were one of the dangerous animals that US troops faced in the jungle back in the Vietnamese war.
Backcountry is the key, however. These alien-like insects are rarely found in big cities like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. They’ll only really be a threat if you head to the lush subtropical and tropical jungles that dash through the hinterland of Indochina. There, they squirm and lay in wait in the undergrowth of wet muds and decaying leaves.
Considered a particularly aggressive arthropod, the Vietnamese giant centipede is
fast to pounce on suspecting prey. That’s usually small spiders and other bugs, but could also be mice and diminutive mammals. They use a powerful neurotoxin to immobilise their victims, disrupting the nervous system and breathing channels. Some cases of human encounters have led to acute hypertension, palpitations, and even – according to some reports – death, although such encounters remain rare.
Malayan pit viper
Although it has Malayan in the name, this particular member of the rather-unfriendly pit viper family can be found right across Southeast Asia, from the hazy middle hills of Cambodia to the volcanic isles of Indonesia. In Vietnam, you’ll be most likely to encounter them in coastal woodlands and bamboo forests, largely in rural areas like the Mekong Delta or the karst-carved North Central Coast.
Commonly found at: Coastal woodlands and bamboo forests.
Average Length: 76 centimeters
Average weight: Unknown
Life cycle: Pit viper eggs hatch inside of their mothers stomachs in which the young will feed off of the yolks. When they are eventually birthed, the vipers can instantly hunt and bite. During adulthood they will mate and carry on the cycle.
Diet: Mice and small rodents
Cultural significance(if any): The Malayan pit viper is responsible for more than 700 snake attacks each year in Southeast Asia.
There’s no doubt that the Malayan deserves its place on this list of the most dangerous animals in Vietnam. Notoriously bad tempered and with a penchant for straying into villages in search of food, there are regular reports of human contact. The incidents that go badly often go very badly indeed. A bite from this viper is hugely painful and causes necrosis of muscle mass and skin. Most victims do survive, but often need to undergo amputation.
White-lipped pit viper
Woe to the person who comes into contact with the white-lipped pit viper. This grass-green slider is one of the most venomous snakes in Vietnam. It’s found in the wetlands, the bush, and among the bamboo blooms near the wiggling riverways all across Southeast Asia, but has a habitat that also extends as far afield as the Himalayan foothills in Nepal and the mountains of north-central China.
Commonly found at: Bamboo forests and riverways.
Average Length: Around 60 centimeters
Average weight: Unknown
Life cycle: Like many other species of viper, white-lipped vipers hatch inside of their mothers and are birthed live when they have fuel themselves with yolk. From birth, white-lipped pit vipers will hunt.
Diet: Rodents, lizards, birds and frogs
Cultural significance(if any): The white-lipped pit viper is described as one of the ‘classic’ pit vipers of southeast asia and was first spotted in 1842.
The species sports the trademark triangle head that’s common across the viper genus. Males tend to grow to around the 60cm mark, while females are generally longer. But, surely, its most striking feature is its colouring. A bright, lush, glossy green streaks along the top of the snake, while there’s a yellowish tinge that gives way to blazing mustard eyes with a brooding black dot right at their centre.
Although fatal bites from the white-lipped viper are relatively rare in humans, there’s no question that this resident of the jungles can do some damage. It’s got a strong procoagulant venom that interrupts proper blood flow and causes huge swellings and localised blister formations. Effects can last several days after the initial bite and cause intense pain sensations at and around the site of contact.
Known to be one of the most venomous snakes in Vietnam, and right up there with the most dangerous animals in Vietnam overall, the many-banded krait isn’t the most savoury of critters in Indochina. Don’t just take our word for it. Back during the Vietnam War, American GIs called this one the ‘Two Step Snake’ on account of how far they thought you’d manage to walk before dropping dead in the aftermath of a bite.
Commonly found at: Forests and mangrove vegetation
Average Length: 1 to 1.5 meters
Average weight: 1.3 to 4 pounds
Life cycle: Females will lay a clutch of around 10 eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of 4 months.
Diet: Mainly fish and other, smaller snakes
Cultural significance(if any): Many banded kraits were known to American Vietnam War soldiers as ‘Two step snakes’ and have been known as one of Vietnam’s most dangerous snakes ever since.
Talking of the bite…the many-banded has a formidable neurotoxin venom. Once injected it causes severe nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and vertigo. Death rates are estimated to be around the 10% mark, and are usually down to a failure of the respiratory system linked to nervous system collapse.
One upside of the many-banded krait is that it’s rarely aggressive and generally shy of human habitation. They’re largely nocturnal and prefer non-confrontation to territorialism. In addition, the whole family of banded kraits should be easy to spot. That’s down to their bright brown and yellow back markings, which makes them simpler to see in forested areas and undergrowth.
Usually considered a nuisance for travelers and a source of irritating bites, they’re actually one of the major threats to human health in the country. The reason? Tropical disease. These abundant fliers spread all sorts through their bite, and can ruin a trip without you even knowing they’ve come, gone, and attacked in the process.
Commonly found at: Mosquitos love warm temperatures and can be found all over Vietnam, especially in the south.
Average Length: 0.2 inches
Average weight: 5 milligrams
Life cycle: The mosquito life cycle takes just 2 weeks. They begin as a larva, then transform into a pupa. Mosquitos then reach adulthood and lay more eggs.
Diet: Honeydew, plant juices and blood.
Cultural significance(if any): Though they have little significance in Vietnam, mosquitos appear in many Greek mythologies.
The major worry is malaria. However, recent years have seen a huge dip in infection rates across Vietnam, while the proliferation of anti-malarial drugs has helped protect travelers jetting in and out of the country. There are still some incidences, though, especially around the more tropical south and the water-logged Mekong Delta.
In addition to that, you’ve got dengue to think about. It’s another tropical ailment transmitted by mosquitoes and has been slowly gaining momentum across Vietnam and Southeast Asia more generally in recent years. 2019 showed a whopping 320,000 cases overall, which translated into 50 deaths in total.
Rash, fever, headache, easy bruising, bleeding gums
Fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes
Fever, headache, chills, vomiting
Jaundice, headache, backache, chills, vomiting
Seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms with mosquito bites.
Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim from Wikimedia
Do not be fooled by the size of these deadly creatures. Although they may be small, a bite from a Weaver ant could easily cause pain to a human being. Because of their toxic bite, Weaver ants were originally used as pesticides in China, as far back as 300 BC.
Commonly found at: Forests and bushy areas
Average Length: 8 to 10 millimeters
Average weight: Unknown
Life cycle: Much like mosquitos, weaver ants follow a four stage life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Their life span is up to 10 weeks.
Diet: Smaller insects and honeydew
Cultural significance(if any): Weaver ants have been used as natural pesticides on farms and other areas of land.
Weaver ants are not venomous but they will attack humans and their bite can be painful. If bitten, make sure to keep an eye on the bite and potentially take painkillers to ease the pain.
Weaver ants tend to live in trees where they exist in colonies and build unique nests with larval silk and leaves. These deadly animals can grow to between 8 to 10 millimeters and are distinguishable by their light brown colour, six legs and two long antennae.
Like other species of ant, Weaver ants’ life cycle follows four stages. First, the ants are born as eggs which then slowly transform into larvi. The next stage of the lifecycle is pupa stage and then eventually the ants will mature into adulthood. Weavers ants will live for up to 10 weeks. The diet of a Weaver ant consists of smaller insects and also carbohydrate-rich honeydew.
Yellow Sac Spider
Photo by Vengolis from Wikimedia
The next creature on our list of dangerous animals is the Yellow sac spider, which gets its name from the small silk sac that it creates to spend most of the daytime.
Commonly found at: Under timbers or logs
Average Length: ⅜ inches
Average weight: Unknown
Life cycle: Females will lay anywhere between 30 to 48 eggs which are covered in silk before hatching. Once hatch, the spiders live their lives hunting for food and making silk.
Diet: Other spider species, small insects and insect eggs.
Cultural significance(if any): The yellow sac was first discovered in 1839 and has been threat to citizens of southeast asia ever since.
Yellow sac spiders have made the list due to their venomous bite which can result in harmful side effects including swelling, redness and burning. They are a territorial species and will attack if they feel threatened. If you are bitten by a yellow sac, it is suggested that you place ice on the bite and elevate it to relieve symptoms.
During the day, yellow sac spiders take shelter in flattened silk tubes, they then hunt and move around during the night. Yellow sac spiders can grow up to ⅜ inches in length and can be distinguished from other spider species by their bright yellow colour.
Female yellow sac spiders can lay anywhere between 30 to 48 eggs. The eggs are covered in a thin layer of silk before hatching. After hatching, the spiders will spend their lives eating food, making silk and laying more eggs to continue the cycle.
Yellow sac spiders usually prey on other species of spiders, garden pest insects and insect eggs, making them a dangerous inhabitant of Vietnam.
Photo by N.A.Nazeer from Wikimedia
The Guar, also known as the Indian Bison, are generally shy creatures but can be very dangerous when angry. Guar do not bluff when they charge and could cause you serious harm if a fight were to break out- this is due to the large size of the animals.
Commonly found at: Glades and open terrain
Average Length: 8ft 2 inches to 10ft 10 inches
Average weight: 440 kilograms to 1000 kilograms
Life cycle: Young guar are weaned by their mothers until 12 months and then start to mature. They can live for up to 30 years.
Diet: Guar are herbivores and mainly graze on plants and grass.
Cultural significance(if any): Guar are native to SouthEast Asia but have recently become an endangered species. They are now largely protected to preserve the animals.
The species is currently endangered in Vietnam so it is unlikely that you will come across one in the wild however, it is still a possibility that you might spot one. The treatment required after being attacked by a Guar will vary depending on the severity of the injuries obtained however some people may need to seek hospital treatment.
Guar mainly reside in glades and areas of open terrain. The dangerous mammals can grow to anywhere between 8 ft 2 inches and 10 ft 10 inches and can weigh between 440 kilograms and 1000 kilograms.
Young Guar are weaned by their mothers up to 12 months and then start transitioning into adulthood- their lifespan is anything up to 30 years.Guar are herbivores and mainly graze on plants and grass.
Photo by Dietmar Rabich from Wikimedia
Bats will fill the streets and canopies of Vietnam from dusk till dawn and are often seen in rural, built-up areas. These flying rodents have made it onto the list because they carry many diseases which can be harmful to humans. Bats can easily pass on viruses and are the root cause of many of the illnesses that wipe out human life each year.
Commonly found at: Rural, built up areas.
Average Length: 1.5 metres
Average weight: 1.1 kilograms
Life cycle: After emerging from hibernation, female and male bats will mate several times with multiple partners. They will then give birth to one pup and the young bat will cling to its mother until maturity.
Diet: Insects, moths and other small animals.
Cultural significance(if any): Bats are used in traditional SouthEast Asian medicine.
Treatment will vary depending on what disease has been picked up from bats in Vietnam but many of the diseases require hospital care.
Bats live in rural, built up areas where they can find food easily. When you are in Vietnam, you may see bats flying around the sky at dusk. The large flying fox is the largest species of bat that you may find in Vietnam and can have a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters and weigh anywhere between 0.65 and 1.1 kilograms.
Bats are flying rodents with large wings and fangs. Most species will also have pointed ears and a snout-like nose. Most species of bat can live for around 34 years and will mainly eat insects and small animals including moths, beetles and mice.
Photo by Dfpindia from Wikimedia
Last but not least on our list of the most dangerous animals in Vietnam comes the Russell’s viper .It is not indigenous to Vietnam however the species has colonised in the country and is now one of the most dangerous animals that can be found in Vietnam. The snake is active both during the daytime and nighttime- depending on the time of year- and is responsible for around 10,000 deaths each year.
Commonly found at: Grassy/bushy areas
Average Length: 4ft 1 inches
Average weight: 50 to 400 pounds
Life cycle: Vipers are hatched from eggs after a period of incubation. When born, the snakes can immediately hunt and bite so are dangerous all of their life.
Diet: Rodents and small reptiles.
If you are bitten by a Russell’s viper you may experience a variety of side effects including swelling, vomiting, dizziness and kidney failure. If attacked, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Russell’s vipers are found mainly in grassy/bushy areas and grow to around 4ft 1 inches. These snakes can weigh anywhere between 50 to 400 pounds and have flattened, triangular heads. The snakes also have a blunt snout with large nostrils and two large fangs.
Russell’s vipers live up to 15 years and feed mainly on rodents and small reptiles including scorpions and crabs.
What is the most dangerous animal in Vietnam?
You might be surprised to hear that the mosquito reigns as one of the most dangerous animals in Vietnam. At least, that is, statistically. Malaria and dengue fever combined have a hand in around 60 deaths annually. And it’s growing, with more than 200% increase in dengue cases year-on-year since 2018.
You can mitigate the risk of contracting a tropical disease by checking if you need to take any anti-malarial medication when you travel to Vietnam. Also, try to cover up at peak mozzie times like dusk and dawn, and use a DEET-based protection spray whenever you head out.
Of course, snakes are also an issue. They’re responsible for an estimated 60,000 bite incidents a year. Sadly, there are no hard stats on which snakes pose the biggest threats to humans and how many attacks prove deadly in the end. However, we’d pay particular attention to the likes of pit vipers (who are known to be aggressive) and banded kraits (which have very potent venom).
Are there any venomous snakes in Vietnam?
From long many-banded kraits to forest-green vipers in the jungles, Vietnam is packed to bursting with venomous snakes. Sorry if that wasn’t the answer you wanted to hear!
The good news is that most bite incidents occur in rural areas and away from major tourist hotspots like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Ha Long Bay.
The most venomous snakes of the bunch in Vietnam are the white-lipped pit viper – a forest dweller that resides on thin branches and close to rivers – and the Malayan pit viper, which is both aggressive and well concealed thanks to its good camouflage. Also watch out for the notorious king cobra, which reside all over Vietnam.
Are There Alligators In Vietnam?
There are no alligators in Vietnam. However, there are saltwater crocodiles, which many people confuse for gators on account of their lean body and scale patterns. We’ve listed these ancient beasts up there with the most dangerous animals in Vietnam because you certainly wouldn’t want to get anywhere near their jaws, which can close with a force of a car-crushing 3,690 pounds – the strongest on the globe!
So, what are the most dangerous animals in Vietnam?
There’s a whole medley of different creatures to be wary of if you’re traveling to Vietnam. From the humble mosquito to the positively Jurassic saltwater croc, they range from the minuscule to the mighty. Some are silent killers that can transmit deadly tropical diseases. Others are formidable predators of the jungles and swamps.
We’d also say pay special attention to the snakes in Vietnam. They’re some seriously daunting critters. Many possess venom enough to kill tens of humans and snake bites are relatively common in this corner of Southeast Asia – estimated to be between 30,000 and 60,000 each year!