What Is the Deadliest Creature in Florida? Hint: It’s Not a Gator

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Close up of Florida on a United States map.

When most people think of Florida, they think of theme parks, sandy beaches, and lots of sunshine. However, the state also has several deadly creatures.

While most people worry about alligators, they’re not the deadliest. So, what is the deadliest creature in Florida?

Today, we’re looking at the darker side of the wildlife in the Sunshine State. Let’s dive in!

A Trip to the Sunshine State Could Be Deadly

You may plan to soak up the sun in Florida, but the wildlife may cause a change of plans. From the swamps of the Everglades to the coastal waters, deadly creatures lurk just about everywhere. You could find yourself over your head if you’re not careful.

Luckily, most encounters are harmless, especially if you can keep your distance. If you respect their natural habitats and follow safety guidelines, you have a good chance of leaving in one piece.

But accidents can happen no matter how safe you try to be. So, make sure you keep reading to know what to watch for while exploring Florida.

What Is the Deadliest Creature in Florida? 

The 1975 film Jaws convinced generations of people to avoid venturing out into the ocean. While the setting was the fictional town of Amity Island, New York, Steven Spielberg should have chosen Florida.

With over 800 miles of sandy beaches, you won’t be surprised to know Florida has the most shark attacks. If it were a contest, it wouldn’t even be close.

The state in second, Hawaii, had only five shark attacks in 2020. However, Florida came out on top with 16. Half of the attacks in the Sunshine State happened in Volusia County. You may want to think again about visiting Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, or Ormond Beach.

The warm Florida coastal waters have lots of Great White and Bull sharks. Unfortunately, they frequent the same waters used by humans. While they may not intentionally seek out humans, they have no problem sinking their teeth into one.

A Great White shark swimming in the ocean in Florida.

Other Dangerous Creatures in Florida

Sharks aren’t the only dangerous creatures in Florida. As we said earlier, they’re just about everywhere. Here are several more animals you’re going to want to watch for while exploring this tropical state.


Experts estimate that 1.3 million alligators lurk in the waters throughout Florida. Most locals live with the fact that if they see standing water, there’s a good chance a gator lives in it.

They’re not picky and live in freshwater lakes, swamps, and marshes. Additionally, they’ll inhabit small retention ponds in communities.

Data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reveals the Sunshine State averaged six gator attacks per year from 1971 to 1986. As the state’s population has grown, so has the number of alligator attacks. From 1987 to 2017, the number increased to 10 per year.

Stay out of the water if you want the best shot of avoiding a gator attack. They can lay still and have tremendous patience for acquiring their next meal.

They’ll bask in the shallow waters and wait for an unsuspecting victim to get too close to the water. In the blink of an eye, they’ll pull a small deer, raccoon, or the family pet into the water.

Two alligators laying together in the grass in Florida.


You’ll find six species of venomous snakes living throughout Florida. These are the eastern coral snake, southern copperhead, cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, and the dusky pygmy rattlesnake. While encounters with venomous snakes in Florida rarely happen, you’ll want to prepare for them.

When you cross paths with one of these slithering reptiles, stay calm and give them space. Most snakes won’t attack if they have room to retreat and escape the situation. They’ll fight back if they feel cornered. Bites often occur when a hiker or other individual attempts to move or provoke the snake.

If you get bit, seek medical attention immediately. Get a picture or take notice of any distinct markings or colorings on the snake. Medical professionals are typically familiar with the various venomous snakes in the area. Identifying the type of snake that caused the bite can help them decide on a treatment plan.

Read More: Now that you know what the deadliest creatures are in Florida, see what the parks are considered the deadliest national parks!


In the entire state of Florida, you’ll find only two dangerous types of spiders. These are the widow and recluse species. Three native widow spiders live in Florida, but a fourth was recently introduced. The three native widows include the southern black widow, the northern black widow, and the red widow.

When it comes to recluses, none of them are native to Florida. However, three different species have found their way into the state. These include the Brown, Mediterranean, and Chilean recluse.

These dangerous spiders like to find dark, quiet spots to hide. They’re more likely to appear in outbuildings or spaces with little light or traffic. Keep your house clean, seal cracks and gaps, and remove any clutter where they can hide to avoid getting them in your home.  

Florida Panther

Many don’t realize that Florida has panthers. These large felines can grow from 5 to 7 feet long and weigh between 60 and 160 pounds. Experts estimate that approximately 200 Florida panthers live throughout the Sunshine State.

They primarily live in the Florida swamps, especially near the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.

Panthers do their best to keep their distance from humans. Because of their desire for space and low numbers, you should consider yourself extremely lucky if you spot one. While they are potentially dangerous creatures, the state has not confirmed panther attacks. 

A Florida Panther walking in Everglades National Park.

Wild Boar

Wild boar are invasive creatures that can cause severe damage throughout the state. Because they use their sharp tusks to dig for food, they can destroy irrigation systems for farmers and homeowners. They often live in forests, wetlands, and on the outskirts of agricultural areas.

When wild boar feel threatened, they can become aggressive. Encounters can turn dangerous very quickly, especially if they charge or attack.

Their sharp tusks can cause significant damage to a human. To make matters worse, they often carry brucellosis and leptospirosis. Both of these diseases can be transmitted to humans and other animals.

Florida has instituted hunting regulations to help control their populations and reduce the damage to the ecosystem and agriculture. But these crafty animals can quickly adapt and continue to create trouble all over the state.

Keep in Mind: Florida is an ideal vacation spot for many, but it’s not for everyone. See Why People Hate RVing in Florida!

American Crocodile

The American Crocodile looks slightly different from the more common gators in the waters. Crocodiles have a more V-shaped snout and are a more gray or green color.

They also have a more aggressive attitude when compared to gators. While we don’t suggest you mess with either, you’ll want to avoid the American Crocodile at all costs.

Due to their lower population levels, attacks are less rare than gators. You’ll find very few reports of fatalities from crocodiles. You’ll likely find them in South Florida swamps, brackish waters, and saltwater ponds. Wherever you spot them, stay away to ensure you walk away with all your digits.

Black Bears

The Florida Black Bear is the smallest subspecies of the American black bear. Males can grow to 250 to 450 pounds. You certainly do not want to take this animal lightly. They will attack you to protect themselves and their cubs if you’re not careful.

Approximately 4,000 black bears live throughout Florida today. You will most likely experience them in the northern and central parts of the state, such as in the Ocala National Forest and Osceola National Forest. However, they’ll wander outside of these forests and into communities.

Two black bear cubs running in Florida.

Avoid the Deadliest Creatures in Florida

Thankfully, very few deadly encounters have happened throughout Florida. Do accidents happen? Absolutely.

Just like anywhere else you visit, you have the potential for a fatal encounter. If you take some common sense measures, you’ll have a good chance of surviving Florida. 

Which creature are you most afraid of on our list?

  1. Spiders are the worst, even the baby spiders bite can be deadly , and you can’t see or feel them until they bite.😠

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