It’s quite astonishing to discover some of the creatures that have made it onto the list of most dangerous animals, especially considering that several of them can be found in New England. It certainly gives one pause for thought.
As per a report by BBC’s Science Focus Magazine, humans rank second on the list, based on the number of homicides, while snakes, responsible for 138,000 human deaths annually, come in third.
Luckily, Maine is free of venomous snakes, but caution is advised in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. According to Mass.gov, out of the 14 species of snakes in Massachusetts, only the timber rattlesnake and the copperhead are venomous. Similarly, New Hampshire Fish and Game mentions the timber rattlesnake, albeit it’s quite rare and endangered in the state.
Surprisingly, dogs secure the fourth spot. The World Health Organization states that “dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths, contributing up to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans.”
So, which is the most lethal creature in the world?
Ironically, it’s one of the smallest – the mosquito.
Yes, mosquitoes top the list of the most dangerous animals on earth.
As a resident of Maine, one tends to be prepared for these annoying little pests when planning evening activities. However, many may not be aware of the potential danger they pose once they bite.
Let’s delve into the specifics. Similar to wood ticks, the real threat of mosquitoes lies in the diseases they carry, which can range from harmful to fatal.
To sound a bit scholarly, the Environmental Protection Agency states that mosquitoes can transmit diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever, West Nile, and several other alarming ones that might make you want to keep bug spray or even a bottle of bleach handy.
Given that Maine has a higher mosquito population than most other states, the risk of contracting one of these viruses is also higher.
Pfizer reports that mosquito bites cause 700,000 deaths worldwide each year. Thankfully, ongoing research, advancements in technology, and improved treatments are making these diseases somewhat less threatening.
It’s astounding to realize that some of the world’s most dangerous animals reside in New England, and you might not have even been aware of it. So, stay vigilant!
Here Are 17 Creatures In Maine That Can Nip You
Yellowjackets are aggressive insects that nest in the ground under objects like railroad ties, in tree stumps, and beneath man-made structures like outdoor decks.
Disturb a nest and they’ll swarm you, capable of stinging multiple times. Their sting can trigger a severe allergic reaction in some individuals. If there’s a nest in your vicinity, either steer clear or exterminate it, but ensure you have an escape route planned beforehand.
2. Harbor Seal
Harbor seals, while adorable and chubby, can bite when threatened. If you encounter one basking on a Maine beach, resist the urge to approach it for several reasons.
Firstly, getting too close can stress the seal, potentially causing it to injure itself while trying to escape. Secondly, a threatened seal can bite, which can lead to infection. Wildlife officials recommend maintaining a distance of at least 150 feet from harbor seals.
Cats, with their soft fur and soothing purr, can attack you if they’re extremely agitated at another cat and you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If a cat bite results in redness and swelling, it could be a sign of infection, commonly known as cat scratch fever. Consult a doctor if it worries you or doesn’t subside. In the meantime, request a cuddle politely.
Mosquitoes are a nuisance, leaving behind an itch that can last for days after they’ve finished feeding on you. A female mosquito will continue to feed until she is full, then lay her eggs, which will hatch a few days later, producing even more mosquitoes. This makes that hole in the screen door at the camp seem much larger.
Rats inhabit areas along the Penobscot River, and due to this year’s moderate drought and low water level, these plump, furry rodents with twitching tails are venturing into neighborhoods in search of food and shelter.
If you happen to reach into a dark crevice within the garage wall and get bitten, wash the area with hot water and soap, then apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. After that, decide whether to see a doctor or not, which is advisable, as there’s a condition known as rat-bite fever which is transmitted by a rat with a certain nasty infection.
6. Browntail Caterpillar/Moth
Browntail caterpillars/moths, while they don’t “bite”, can cause several weeks of extreme itching and irritability with just one interaction. These caterpillars nest up in trees and become active between April and June, then transform into a white, fluffy moth, which is anything but cute.
The hair from these creatures, which can also be transferred just by floating in the air, can easily become embedded within your skin causing a red rash that will itch you into exhaustion. To alleviate the itchiness and pain, refer to Maine.gov.
Firstly, there are no venomous spiders in Maine. Occasionally, you’ll hear of a Black Widow spider that’s been accidentally shipped here in a lettuce consignment or something similar, but the climate in this state is far too cold for them to survive.
Secondly, even though spiders are predators and will bite and then poison their prey, they are not out to get you. In fact, they’re terrified of youand will run for cover. Unfortunately, spiders are sometimes blamed for a newly discovered skin irritation because more than likely it wasn’t a spider’s fault.
But, if you think you’ve been bitten by a spider, wash the area with hot water and soap, then apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage, and then forget about it. For more information about spiders, refer to the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension.
Maine is home to two types of foxes — the gray and the red — and neither is likely to bite you unless one might be rabid. A fox will do its best to avoid you and mostly travels at night to do so.
The only reason a fox in Maine would seek human interaction is if you feed it and train it to be friendly, which you should not do.
If a fox suddenly appears and behaves unusually, it is likely rabid and you should avoid it while notifying someone like the local animal control officer or a game warden. If you are bitten by a fox, it is recommended that you get to the local emergency room immediately.
9. Deer Fly
Deer flies are fast fliers. They’re attracted by movement and will swarm, and when they bite it’s painful. The best advice if you’re out in the woods or on the water is to wear dark clothing and hope for the best.
Thankfully, shark attacks along Maine’s coast are rare. But, last year’s fatal attack off Bailey Island in southern Maine has raised concerns among beachgoers, those who work on the water, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
The Maine DMR has partnered with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Massachusetts and installed 33 underwater acoustic listening devices along the state’s coastline to monitor for “tagged” great white sharks in the area. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has also set up an online form where people can report shark sightings.
Firstly, there are no venomous snakes in Maine, and if left alone the ones that reside here are not going to bite you. Step on one’s tail and that’s another story.
We have Milk snakes, Northern Watersnakes, the Northern Black Racer, the Common Garter snake, and a variety of others.
They eat everything from small birds to earthworms. If you are bitten by a snake, clean the wound thoroughly, maybe apply some antibiotic cream and then cover. Monitor for any sort of infection. Then tell your friends that you were bitten by a snake, they’ll be impressed.
The Maine black bear is not out to bite you and viewing one from afar is wondrous. It’s best to keep your distance, especially from a mother bear and her cubs.
There has never been a fatal bear attack in Maine, but a man in Crawford came close when he encountered a bear stealing fish on a string that he had hanging from a dock. The man lived to tell his tale but nursed his wounds for weeks.
13. Horse Fly
Chances are if you’ve ever paddled a kayak up a Maine river you have come into contact with a horse fly. A horsefly will harass you constantly, usually flying solo while bouncing off your head for what seems like miles.
These are the big flies that you’ll see in pastures doing the same thing to cows and yes, horses. Their bites are painful, almost reminiscent of a bee sting, but not quite.
Once again, more than likely the new neighbor’s dog is not going to bite you. But until he or she really becomes familiar with you, who really knows for sure? If a dog is injured or fighting with another dog it’s always a good idea to leave it alone.
But, if one does indeed bite you then there’s a chance of infection and you should keep an eye on the area of the bite and maybe even see a doctor to be on the safe side.
Maine has two varieties of ticks, the dog and the deer tick, and they’re out there in the leaves and the fields waiting for you. Dog ticks are just considered to be a nuisance, as their bites cause skin irritation.
Deer ticks on the other hand can carry Lyme disease, which of course is a whole other story and may even be life-threatening. If a tick embeds itself within you remove it using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you can, and then see a doctor.
16. Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
While still rare, the Lion’s Mane jellyfish are becoming more abundant in Maine’s offshore waters. While most are the size of a dinner plate, some have been found that have washed up on the shoreline up to 3 feet wide.
They will sting you, even when they are dead, which is odd, but true. Walk or swim into one while in the water and you’ll feel a warm sensation as they sting. Some of the bigger lion’s mane jellyfish well offshore can sting from 100 feet away. The sting is not deadly or poisonous.
17. Black Flies
Yes, we breed them and you feed them here in Maine. Is there any doubt that this is what you’ll be bit by, whether it be by your front door or miles away within the woods of Maine? It’s guaranteed. Those pesky little buggers have ruined vacations, fishing trips, and even a late-night drink out on the back deck. The best thing to do? Leave the light off.
In conclusion, Maine is home to a diverse array of creatures, some of which can give you a bite if they choose to. From the aggressive yellowjackets to the adorable but potentially dangerous harbor seals, from the pesky mosquitoes to the rare but increasingly present Lion’s Mane jellyfish, the state is teeming with wildlife that demands respect and caution.
While most of these creatures are harmless if left undisturbed, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and to know how to respond in the event of a bite. So, whether you’re a resident or a visitor, remember to enjoy Maine’s rich biodiversity responsibly and safely.