If you’re planning a trip to the USA, then you may be interested to know about the dangerous animals in Utah. With a wide range of animals native to the western state, we’re here to tell you all about the 11 most dangerous animals that are found in Utah.
By the end of this article you’ll be able to identify the animals in our list and know what to do if you come into any danger with them.
So, let’s get straight to it and see what our first dangerous animal in Utah is.
American Black Bear:
There’s estimated to be around 4,000 black bears in Utah which are found in forests and mountains around the state. These bears are Utah’s largest predators and can live for up to 25 years or more. Although they are called ‘black bears’, their fur colour can vary from white to black and any shade of brown you can think of.
You will most commonly come across a bear if camping /hiking in the woods or a mountain. Bears have an extraordinary memory, so if they’ve eaten food from one place before, it’s more than likely they will go back to the same spot to see if there’s any more food – so if camping, remember to pick up leftover litter.
What to do if you encounter a black bear:
- Stand your ground. Never lie down or play dead and stay calm, giving the bear a chance to leave.
- Be prepared to use bear spray which will restrict their eyesight and oxygen levels.
- Never climb a tree or run away! A bear can run up to 35 miles per hour!
The sidewinder snake also known as the horned rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper which can be found in desserts in Utah. These snakes can move up to 18 miles per hour through soft sand! They’re called sidewinder snakes because they move themselves to the side in a winding movement. When the snake buries itself, it will sink into the ground and camouflage itself.
A small species, adult specimens measure between 43 and 76 cm (17 and 30 in) in length. Most adults are 50–80 cm (19.5–31.5 in) in length. The females are larger than the males, which is unusual for this group of snakes.
Although these snakes produce weaker venom than other species, the toxins can still be extremely dangerous to humans if bitten by one. If you are bitten by one of these you may experience nausea, chills, coagulopathy, dizziness, shock, pain, swelling and ecchymosis (discolouration of the skin due to bleeding underneath.) If you are bitten then seek medical attention immediately.
Blister beetles come from the Meloidae family and are long, narrow plant-feeding insects that vary in colour from yellow to grey. They live in flower beds and grassy fields and can be found near outdoor lights in the evenings.
You might have guessed from their name what happens if their toxins go into your body? If you haven’t then should know that if these beetles come into contact with your skin, they will let out a toxic blistering agent called cantharidin– this can cause irritation and blistering when it comes in contact with the eyes, skin, mouth, throat, or digestive tract. This can be painful but it’s not likely to be life threatening.
However tempting it may be to pop the blister, we can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t do this! If you pop the blister it will more than likely lead to a nasty infection and maybe even a scar depending on how big the blister is. Blisters will heal up on their own, just remember to apply antiseptic cream and wash the infected area every day.
Another one of our dangerous animals in Utah is the rattlesnake. There are five species of rattlesnakes that call Utah home including the sidewinder which we previously spoke about. The diamondback rattlesnake is responsible for the majority of serious snakebites in North America.
Rocky, high-elevation slopes are where you’re most likely to find a rattlesnake in Utah but due to their camouflaging skills, you may have even of walked past one of these snakes and known nothing about it. They are also protected under Utah law making it illegal to harass or kill one unless it’s done in self-defence.
These snakes are venomous, and the venom is mostly made up of hemotoxic elements (venom which damages the circulatory system and muscle tissue and causes swelling, haemorrhage, and necrosis). So, if you get attacked by one, make sure you get medical help straight away as these bites can be fatal in some humans.
You may think that this is an unlikely dangerous animal to be found in Utah, but they can become very aggressive if you run into one, making them a dangerous animal in Utah.
Utah is home to between 2,500 and 3,000 moose. The largest animals in the deer family, moose can be found along the Wasatch Front and in northern and north-eastern Utah, typically in forested areas which are popular with walkers.
Moose will most likely feel threatened in the spring/summertime when they have calves with them. They often feel threatened when people or dogs get too close, which can also make them aggressive and lead them to charge, knock someone over and stomp on them. You’ll know if a moose will attack if it does the following:
- Lower their head
- Lick their snout
- Pin their ears back
If a moose does knock you down, curl into a ball as this will protect your head and lie still until the moose moves away. If you’re with a dog, you should know that it’s against the law for dogs to chase or harass protected wildlife like moose.
There are only around 1,600 mountain lions/cougars living in Utah, a number which id dealing due to trophy hunting and habitat loss. Mountain lions live all across Utah, from the High Uintas wilderness to the dry southern deserts and are easily recognised by their long tail, tawny colour and white muzzle.
Since 1967, mountain lions have been a protected wildlife species in Utah and there is an annual state-wide limited-entry hunting season on the animals.
If you’re walking/hiking/camping in an area you know there might be mountain lions to then don’t…
- Walk on your own
- Stay in close by groups
- Leave the area if you find a dead elk or deer – this is what mountain lions prey on so they could be nearby or come back to feed on them.
- Clean up camp and don’t leave litter anywhere.
If unfortunately, you do encounter a mountain lion, NEVER run away from it. These animals can run almost 50mph so there’s no chance you’ll be able to outrun them, maintain eye contact, talk in a loud voice and back away slowly – if aggressive enough, the mountain lion should flee.
Black Widow Spider:
You may be surprised to know that the black widow spider is the only arachnid in the state that’s listed as a ‘medical condition’, although the ‘medical condition’ part isn’t so surprising as these spiders can give nasty and even fatal bites.
A black widow has poor eyesight so they can sense when somebody is near to them by feeling vibrations, these spiders will build their webs in dark places, so prey is likely to walk into the trap. Black widows will only bite if they feel threatened, so if you do see one, don’t go near it or touch it.
If you’re unsure if you’ve been bitten by this spider then the chances are that you wouldn’t have been as the spider’s toxins will produce excruciating pain once inside the body so you will definitely know if you’ve been bitten by one.
The bite 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.
The gila monster is a species of venomous lizard that’s found in desert areas of Utah, whilst it’s rare to see one of these lizards as they spend most of their time underground, if you bitten by one of these animals the bite is very painful.
This venous animal is a stout-bodied lizard that grows 18 to 24 inches in length. It will have either black, orange, pink or yellow broken blotches, bars and spots, with bands extending onto its blunt tail. Its face is black, and it has small, bead-like scales across its back.
Surprisingly, the gila monster is only one of a handful venomous lizards in the world and although the bite can be painful, it’s rare that it could lead to a fatality. They will inject the venom through their grooved teeth in their lower jaw. If you have been bitten by one you may experience localised swelling, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, weakness, faintness, excessive perspiration, chills and fever.
Coyotes are common in Utah and can be adaptable to different habitats in the wild including urban areas such as inner cities and suburban neighbourhoods. Although coyote attacks can happen on humans and pets, they are relatively rare.
These animals have a great sense of smell and vision and can run at up to 40mph! If you do happen to come into a coyote encounter, then the following tips should be followed:
- Make noise while hiking to alert wildlife of your presence.
- Do not approach a coyote.
- Do not run or turn your back on a coyote that has approached you. Face the coyote, shout at it, be as big and loud as possible, wave your arms and back away slowly.
There are four common groups of mosquitos that live in Utah and which are Aedes, Anopheles, Culex, and Culiseta. Mosquitoes seem to be nuisance in most hot climates, but not only can they be annoying, but they can also carry nasty diseases.
In Utah, three mosquito-borne arboviruses that cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans have been identified, these are: western equine encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis and west Nile virus.
Western equine encephalitis symptoms include a stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, headache and tiredness. There is no specific treatment for this virus but seek medical attention when you first get a symptom.
Saint Louis encephalitis is caused from an infected mosquito bite. Most people infected with the virus have no apparent illness. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and tiredness.
West Nile virus is not contagious, and most people will have no symptoms. The virus will usually go away on its own but severe signs of infection include muscle weakness, fits and confusion.
Our final dangerous animal in Utah are raccoons which most commonly found in wooded areas along rivers, marshes or lakes, however, these animals are able to adapt to new habitats so are found throughout the USA.
These animals have sharp teeth and claws and can become aggressive but the main reason they’re dangerous is because they carry rabies. This disease is usually always fatal so make sure you have been vaccinated for it.
As raccoons can adapt to any habitat, sometimes they can wonder inside people’s homes, mainly inside an attic or garage. If you come into contact with a raccoon it is recommended that you break eye contact and slowly back away, moving into a building until the animal passes.
What is the Most Dangerous Animal in Utah?
The most dangerous animal in Utah is the American black bear. With over 4,000 bears present in Utah this makes it a dangerous animal for any hikers or campers in the forest and mountains. Although (and fortunately) attacks on humans are rare, you still need to be cautious when entering their territory.
Are There Any Poisonous Animals in Utah?
There’s a range of poisonous animals in Utah, many of which are reptiles including the rattlesnake, gila monster, pit vipers, night snakes and of course the black widow spider.
Are There Dangerous Spiders in Utah?
There are seven types of dangerous spiders in Utah – these include the black widow, desert recluse, brown recluse, wolf spider, hobo spider, yellow sac and the huntsman spider.
So, that’s the end of our article! If you’ve enjoyed the read, then please leave a comment in the box below. If you fancy a beach getaway, then give the article below a read!