Beware Of These 11 Most Dangerous Animals In Bali!

Most dangerous animals in Bali
Photo by Joseph Richard Francis
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Bali isn’t always perfect sunsets and rolling surf – there are also some notable dangerous animals in Bali that we think every would-be visitor should know about. After all, this is a lush tropical island in Indonesia, one of the most ecologically megadiverse countries in the world. There’s all sorts of exotic flora and fauna just waiting to be encountered…

While you might not see a komodo dragon strolling through the pub-fringed streets of Kuta (those 10-foot lizards are found on Komodo Island), you will see other dangerous animals around Bali’s misty rainforests, about its temples, and in the oceans that surround it. In fact, because parts of this island are now so built-up, lots of Indonesian wildlife coexists with the local people, sharing the natural habitat with the Balinese and travelers who pass through.

In fact, some of the most dangerous animals in Bali blend in really easily with the surroundings. You probably won’t even realize that you’re in danger around them! Others are a touch harder to find, preferring the salty waters out at sea or the green forests that creep up the volcanic hills to the north. Whatever the animals, we’d still say that Indonesia is 100% still worth visiting, just bear these critters in mind when you come to visit the Ilse of the Gods this year…

Stray dogs

bali street dog
Photo by JTG Travel
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris.
  • Attacks: Bite, potential rabies transmission.
  • Treatment: Thorough cleaning of the wound and a course of rabies injections from a medical center.
  • Where you find them: All over Bali, but mainly in built-up parts of the island.
  • IUCN status: Not listed.

Isle of the Gods or Isle of the Dogs? Southeast Asia is well known its populations of stray dogs, and Bali is no exception. The beaches and streets are littered with pups, making them one of the most commonly encountered dangerous animals in Bali! Bali’s dogs are also known as Kintamani dogs, a name given to the breed from an inland region.

Some are completely stray, while others may be owned by local businesses, usually for the purporse of guarding stock from other animals. While these dogs may look cute with an occasional wagging tail, it’s safer to assume they are all territorial, and it’s best not to approach them. Most locals do not vaccinate their dogs, and street dogs are unlikely to be vaccinated, meaning the risk of rabies from a bite is extremely high.

These days, there are many charities and organizations that aim to rehabilitate and rehome dogs in Bali. BARC (Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Center) is one of many valiantly working to relieve starvation, neglect, and abuse (and not only for dogs but many other animals in Bali, too). They offer free vaccinations and sterilizations of the canines here, with an especial focus on street strays.

Macaques

monkeys in bali
Photo by JTG Travel
  • Latin name: Macaca fascicularis.
  • Attacks: Powerful jaws, unpredictable behavior, and high risk of rabies.
  • Treatment: Thorough cleaning of the wound and a course of rabies injections from a medical center.
  • Where you find them: Across most of Bali, in particular Ubud’s Monkey Forest, Uluwatu, and Mt Batur.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable.

Monkeys are the next most commonly encountered animals in Bali that pose a threat. Similar to dogs, macaques might seem novelty or cute at first, but they are a serious rabies risk. If you are unfortunate to get bitten – and it does happen more than we like to imagine – you need to seek urgent medical attention for a course of rabies injections.

These monkeys can be seen across the island, but they actually prefer to steer clear of the busiest tourist destinations, like Kuta and Canggu. One of the best places to see them in their natural habitat is up on the slopes of Mt Batur volcano. However, they’ve also colonized the shrines of the Uluwatu Temple, and, just as the name implies, the Monkey Forest in Ubud – one of the town’s top attractions.

Those in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud are very often visited by humans and are will be persuaded for a photo opportunity, with the aid of a banana, of course. Just keep an eye on your backpack, as they have a cheeky tendency to go rummaging while perched on your shoulder! Also, never make eye contact or smile at the monkeys – they consider it threatening behavior and will often attack without warning!

Mosquitoes

Photo from Evanto Elements/twenty20photos
  • Latin name: Aedes aegypti.
  • Attacks: Infectious bite.
  • Treatment: Monitor for severe side affects, seek medical attention if fever breaks out.
  • Where you find them: Across the entire island, particularly bad at evenings and in damp areas.
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

Mosquitoes are a buzzing annoyance to travelers all around the tropcial corners of the planet. But they can also pose a significant risk, and everyone should be cautious of these fliers while visiting Bali. One bite from the wrong one can lead to serious illness and potentially even death! Mosquito-borne diseases are the cause of more than 700,000 deaths each year across the globe, so this isn’t to be taken lightly.

Just some of the ailments that a mosquito bite in Bali can cause are:

  • Dengue fever – An extremely debilitating illness that leads to vomiting, nausea, skin rashes and joint pains.
  • Chikungunya – A tropical disease that leads to high fever and joint pains. 1/1,000 patients will die after being infected with Chikungunya.
  • Lymphatic filariasis – A parasitic disease that causes extreme swelling, although it’s not too common among the mozzies of Southeast Asia.
  • Yellow Fever – A disease that causes jaundice in some patients, Yellow Fever isn’t currently a risk in Bali.
  • Japanese encephalitis – A brain infection that can lead to seizures and death, occurring mainly on the southern plains of Bali.

While malaria is not generally considered a risk in Bali, it is a consideration when visiting other Indonesian islands right next door, such as Lombok or Komodo. That said, there is some transmission of the dreaded M, so be sure to use a mosquito net, a DEET-based anti-mozzie spray, and cover your arms and legs at dusk and dawn, particularly if you’re visiting rural areas north of Ubud or trekking on Bali’s volcanos.

King cobra

King Cobra head shot - becoming increasingly more dangerous in Bali as they are used more in entertainment shows
Photo by Godwin Angeline Benjo/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Ophiophagus hannah
  • Attacks: Venomous bite with a strong neurotoxin, can lead to paralysis and death.
  • Treatment: Seek urgent medical attention
  • Where you find them: West Bali and in entertainment shows
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

The king cobra is one of six venomous snakes found in Bali, a number that also includes the blue krait and green pit viper. King cobras can grow over a meter in length and are identified by the diagonal markings along the body and hood. These snakes mainly live in the forested areas of West Bali, however, sightings are increasing across other parts of the island, too.

The king cobra is extremely reluctant to bite. However, as the venom is produced in such a large amount, just one encounter is enough to prove fatal after only a matter of hours. Despite this venomous bite, the king cobra is often seen as part of tourist entertainments, where folks are invited to take selfies with them and watch snake handlers do their thing.

Our advice? Avoid that sort of thing altogether. Shows that involve wild animals are usually of dubious morality at best. What’s more, they could also prove fatal if something goes wrong. It’s just not worth it!

Yellow-lipped sea krait

Sea snakes are shy animals but have a potent venom
Photo by Jong Marshes/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Laticauda colubrina.
  • Attacks: Venomous bite with a strong neurotoxin, can lead to paralysis and death.
  • Treatment: Seek urgent medical attention.
  • Where you find them: Entire coastline and caves, at the Tanah Lot temple.
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

The banded sea krait, more commonly known as, simply, the sea snake, is a regular visitor to the seas around Bali. Sea snakes have a characteristic paddle-shaped tailed that is flatter than land snakes, helping them move swiftly through the water. They also have a trademark black-and-grey band pattern along the entire length of their body. You should find it easy to spot them.

Unlike other varieties of sea snakes, the banded krait found in Bali is able to move underwater and on land. It’s an air breather, so must head to the surface to catch air.. They can often be seen around the caves of Tanah Lot, a famous temple and popular tourist hotspot just 15-minutes away from Canggu.

Divers and snorkelers are likely to see them among rocky reefs. Locals believe them to be holy and leave them well alone, potentially also due to the venomous bite that they pack. Paralysis and death can follow a bite, so immediate medical attention is required to any unfortunate victim of a sea snake attack. But don’t worry, these guys will only bite when they feel threatened. They’re also not very well adapted at injecting large amounts of venom, so it’s very rare that a bite from a krait proves fatal.

Fire coral

Photo by Nariman Mesharrafa/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Millepora alcicornis
  • Attacks: Strong neurotoxin sting, some can be allergic
  • Treatment: Wash thoroughly with warm water and vinegar
  • Where you find them: Entire coastline and coral reefs
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

The waters that surround Bali Island are rich and vibrant. With volcanic sands meeting coral reefs, this is a diving paradise based on an incredibly diverse marine ecosystem. Let’s talk about fire coral…

Fire coral is a semi-misleading name: It’s actually not a coral at all, but a hydrozoa that’s more closely related to anemones and jellyfish than coral. But touch it and you’ll feel the burn from the neurotoxin sting – that’s where the fire comes in!

Bali, and the surrounding islands of Nusa Lembongan, are home to fire coral that poses a serious consideration for surfers and snorkelers. Most cases of contact with fire coral happen accidentally during a wipeout, where the waves dump the surfer onto the reef, or when a snorkeler inadvertently kicks the fire coral. Both scenarios are extremely common and mere accidents.

Fire coral is only dangerous when it’s physically touched. Avoid doing that, along with all other marine life in the Balinese seas, and you’ll be safe while enjoying these lovely Indonesian waters. If an unfortunate encounter does occur, symptoms of fire coral stings can include:

  • Burning or stinging sensation after a few minutes
  • A raised rash that produces heat
  • Itching sensation that can last up to two weeks
  • Lymph gland swelling (rare cases)
  • Nausea and vomiting (rare cases)
  • Abdominal pain and muscle spasms (rare cases)

Treating a fire coral sting is simple enough. The main thing is not to panic. Simply return to shore, rinse off the saltwater and ensure no fire coral remains in the wound (if so, remove with tweezers). Then, apply a vinegar-alcohol solution available from the pharmacy. Hydrocortisone can help relieve the itchiness. However, if you are allergic to bee stings and prone to anaphylactic shock, it’s important to seek professional medical attention.

Whitetip reef shark

Photo by David Clode/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Triaenodon obesus
  • Attacks: Powerful jaws and deadly bite
  • Treatment: Seek medical attention depending on the severity of the injury
  • Where you find them: Entire coastline and coral reefs
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

Shark attacks and sightings are extremely rare in Bali, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a risk to anyone swimming or surfing in these waters. Indonesia is one of 40 nations that still actively fish sharks, with only the whale shark protected by Indonesian law. Unfortunately, this is the sad reason why sightings are now so low.

However, get into the coral reefs around the north and east of Bali (as well as on the other Nusa Islands) and you’ll be in with a good chance of spotting a whitetip reef shark. This is a relatively small shark that doesn’t get any bigger than 1.6 meters. It’s identified by the slender body, broad head, and of course, the whitetip dorsal fin. They normally swim at the bottom of clear water, between 8 and 40 meters.

Despite all the teeth, whitetip reef sharks are rarely aggressive towards people. They may investigate divers, so it’s important to remain calm and follow your dive buddy’s instructions. Attacks have been known to happen when spearfishing is involved and the fisherman steals the shark’s prey.

Sea urchin

Photo by rigel/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Coryphantha echinus
  • Attacks: Toxic sting and sharp spines that shatter in the skin.
  • Treatment: Wash thoroughly with water and vinegar.
  • Where you find them: Entire coastline and coral reefs.
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

Sea urchins are one of the more bizarre and unique of the dangerous animals found in Bali. Similar to fire coral, sea urchins reside around reefs and on the sea bed. They are commonly hidden in crevices and cracks between rocks and are easily stepped on because they blend in so well.

The sting from a sea urchin is a powerful defense mechanism from the calcium-filled spine. They are strong enough to pierce neoprene wetsuits and puncture the the skin with ease. Some varieties of sea urchin, like the flower urchin found in Bali, have potent venomous spines that can cause serious pain.

If you are unlucky to step on a toxic sea urchin, you may experience a burning sensation. It’s important to carefully remove any spines that are broken off into your foot; the spines become brittle and can continue to shatter as you try to get them out. Vinegar and a warm compress is the best way to clean out the wound and reduce any pain or swelling. If you are known to have allergies to bee stings, seek professional medical attention, because that’s a potential risk factor.

Sea urchins can be found all around Bali but are more common on the east coast, around the Nusa Dua area. When surfing in Bali for the first time, it may be a good idea to use water shoes to give you an extra layer of protection when walking out to the waves.

Blue-ringed octopus

Photo by Kris-Mikael Krister/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Hapalochlaena
  • Attacks: Venom.
  • Treatment: Not much – there is no known antivenom!
  • Where you find them: In the coral reefs around Bali.
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

The blue-ringed octopus is like a creature from another planet. A blob of brownish-yellow covered in rings of glowing turquoise blue, it’s known to inhabit the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, all the way from the Sea of Japan to the edges of Madagascar. Bali is right smack dab in the middle of that, though sightings of the creature remain rare since they’re very hard to spot amid the colorful coral reefs, especially because they only grow to a maximum of seven inches across at full adulthood.

Small, yep, but downright scary, the blue-ringed octopus is said to carry a venom that’s 1,000 times the potency of cyanide. It’s enough to kill tens of humans in the time it takes to finish a Bintang beer at a Bali beach bar. You will have to make skin-to-skin contact to be envenomated, though, and blue rings are very timid creatures who prefer to flee danger than attack.

There were recent reports of a woman in Indo handling a blue-ringed octopus over her TikTok channel. She was apparently unaware of the fact that it’s one of the most dangerous animals in Bali but luckily came away unscathed as the animal didn’t attack during the encounter. Lucky, eh?

Red-necked keelback

Photo by Rushenb/Wikimedia/Wikicommons/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Latin name: Rhabdophis subminiatus
  • Attacks: Venom.
  • Treatment: Immediate medical attention and antivenom
  • Where you find them: In forests, usually near bodies of water
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

There was a time when the red-necked keelback wouldn’t have even made it close to our list of the most dangerous animals in Bali. Scientists originally thought that it had no way to inject its venom and few studies had been carried out into the effects of a bite. Turns out that it’s simply a rear-fanged snake; a type of serpent that just needs a little extra time on the skin to do its damage.

The venom of a red-necked keelback has also been shown to be extremely lethal. Hemorrhaging of the brain, internal bleeding, hinderance of the blood coagulating, and kidney failure have all been reported in victims, and there’s only one known antivenom that’s not routinely stocked in medical centers because it’s only recently been formulated.

The good news is that you shouldn’t find it too hard to spot one of these. They have a distinctive scarlet marking on the back of the head (hence the name), which starts with a shock of mustard yellow before an enlarged skull. The body is generally brown and black with lighter markings on the underside.

Jellyfish

Photo by Billy Huynh/Unsplash
  • Latin name: Pelagia noctiluca.
  • Attacks: Toxic and powerful sting, some can be allergic.
  • Treatment: Wash thoroughly with water and vinegar.
  • Where you find them: Entire coastline and out in the deep ocean
  • IUCN status: Least concern.

And last but not least on our list of the most dangerous animals in Bali: Jellyfish. With rich and diverse waters come the jellies, a key part of the sea turtle diet. There are several types of jellyfish in the Indonesian waters, with the purple jellyfish being the most commonly encountered around the Isle of the Gods.

This mauve stinger has all the standard characteristics of most jellyfish: Translucent body, long tentacles, a powerful sting. They are often extremely small in size, so spotting them before getting stung can be challenging. Luckily, most stings from these jellyfish result in a brief discomfort that passes within a matter of minutes. However, some people may react worse than others and come up in a rash. If this is the case, wash off the saltwater and rinse with vinegar (cuka in Indonesian).

Jellyfish travel through the oceans in swarms or clouds and are carried by the currents. Some seasons are more prone to jellyfish than others, so be sure to check with the local surfers or divers. If you are sensitive to the sting, simply wearing a rash guard can help give you a layer of protection while out in the water.

What is the most dangerous animal in Bali?

Due to the high exposure level, the most dangerous animals in Bali are stray dogs. Unvaccinated and untrained, these dogs can be extremely territorial. If infected with rabies, dogs become aggressive and unpredictable, so could attack an innocent bystander at any time. Despite being man’s best friend, these street dogs are the most dangerous animals in Bali that you will encounter.

What is the most dangerous snake in Bali?

The king cobra and sea banded krait are two dangerous snakes found in Bali. Both are highly venomous and can cause serious harm to anyone unfortunate enough to get bitten. However, the sea snake is extremely shy, so encounters and attacks are unlikely.

King cobras are often used for entertainment at tourist attractions. Despite the extremely potent venom and being one of the most dangerous animals in Bali, these snakes are reluctant to bite, only attacking when feeling threatened.

Are there crocodiles in Bali?

While there are saltwater crocodiles in Indonesia, there are no established populations in Bali. These are one of the most dangerous animals in the world, however, they cause no real threat in Bali.

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Hi! I'm Abigail, a surfer, traveller, and nature lover. I'm from the UK but have been able to call Bali home for several years. I've backpacked across Australia on a shoestring budget, explored European coastlines, and taken in the sights across the pond and down into South America. My travel wishlist keeps growing the more I explore our perfect planet!