The Philippines, known officially as the Republic of the Philippines, is a real magnet for travelers on the hunt for paradise beaches and tropical climes. From the exquisitely beautiful diving meccas of El Nido and Palawan all the way to the remote coves of Siargao and the misty summits of Mount Apo, it’s filled with oodles of spots that help it reign as one of Asia’s top destinations.
But, as well as being hailed as a paradise on Earth, the Philippines is also a haven of biodiversity. It has verdant tropical rainforests, oceans that teem with turtles and angelfish, coral reefs aplenty, and soaring volcanos that sprout above the clouds. It’s a real treat for lovers of the natural world and the great outdoors.
In the mix of wild creatures that make their home here, there are also some dangerous animals in the Philippines. Those are what we’ll focus on here, listing the cobras, the jellies, the spiders, and all the other critters you’re probably better off avoiding during your time on the islands. Let’s begin…
The Philippine cobra, also known as the Philippine spitting cobra or northern Philippine cobra, is an incredibly venomous type of cobra snake that is native to the northern parts of the Philippines. More specifically, it lives mainly on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes, Azria, and Masbate. It’s habitats are varied, including dense jungle, forests, farmland, and – occasionally – built-up urban areas. These snakes usually like to live near bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and rivers.
There’s good reason why the Philippine cobra is considered one of the most dangerous animals in the Philippines. The venom contains an extremely potent neurotoxin. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and general shutdown of vital organs in bitten patients, and can even kill within just 30 minutes! In fact, the venom of the Philippine cobra is one of the most dangerous in the world.
As the name implies, these scary serpents are capable of spitting their lethal venom with a high level of accuracy at targets up to 10 feet away. The good news is that they are pretty timid and usually prefer to avoid contact with humans. Still, if you do happen to have an encounter, be sure to keep your distance just in case!
We don’t want to go spoiling anyone’s day in the crystal-clear waters of El Nido or Siargao, but this one’s got to be up there with the most dangerous animals in the Philippines. Yep, an estimated 20-40 people die every year in the archipelagos around the Malay Peninsula from box stings, which is one of the highest rates of fatality of anywhere in the world, Australia included!
Box jellies grow to measure up to eight inches across and usually have a sort of strange translucent glow about them. That’s one of the most irritating things, since they’re very difficult to spot in the light blue of the tropical sea waters. The bit you want to watch out for is the wisp-like stinger that drifts behind the animal itself. They are what contain the poisonous stinger cells, which latch onto any skin that it happens to come into contact with.
The most dangerous types of box jellies are all in the Indo-Pacific region (yep, the home of the Philippines). They have a venom that attacks the nervous system and causes complete heart failure. Those that survive a sting have reported feeling pains for weeks on end after the incident.
Arachnophobes don’t get a pass when it comes to the most dangerous animals in the Philippines. Nope, the islands that string through the Sulu Sea to the edge of the Pacific Ocean here also host the dreaded black widow. It’s one of the most feared critters of all, with a venomous bite that’s said to be many times stronger than that of a rattlesnake, capable of causing sever muscle spasms, nausea, sickness, and – in extreme cases – death.
The black widow is a distinct creature. The females of the species (the only ones capable of hurting humans) are known for their large, jet-black thorax, which comes with a trademark red spot on the softer underbelly and elongated back and front legs that can measure up to 13mm from end to end.
What’s most worrying about the black widow is just how small it is. It’s common for bite victims not to even notice there’s a danger lurking around. On the flip side, black widows aren’t all that common in the Philippines or East Asia generally. It’s thought that they have much higher populations in the Americas.
The infamous great white might get all the attention, but they say it’s the bull shark that you should really watch out for. These guys are notoriously bad tempered, very aggressive in the water, and known to be territorial. They also come with two rows of serrated chompers that are well adapted at tearing and ripping living flesh.
The bad news? They exist all around the islands of the Philippines and sightings of the great beasts are very common. What makes them especially dangerous is that they like to live in shallower waters close to the shore – depths of between 60-100 feet are their normal patrol grounds. On top of that, bull sharks are able to swim up rivers and survive well in freshwater, so you can’t really escape them by steering clear of salty H2O.
Bulls hunt as pairs. They attack by disorientating prey with speedy swim ups and then biting. The bite itself is a hefty 5,914 newtons of force that’s bolstered by uber-sharp teeth. Thankfully, there have been zero reported shark attacks in the Philippines for some time, which can’t be said for the USA and Australia!
The mosquito is often listed as one of the most dangerous animals in any of the countries where it is endemic. They’re not big, they don’t have venom, and a mozzie bite is little more than an irritation to most. However, everyone should be aware of just how dangerous mosquitoes can be to humans…
They are one of the most common vectors for tropical diseases like malaria and dengue. Those kill thousands of people around Asia and Africa each year. Unfortunately, dengue fever especially remains pretty common in the Philippines. It’s a very debilitating illness that can last two weeks or more, causing high fevers, hallucinations, temporary paralysis, and intense muscle pains. Talk about a vacation ruined!
Unfortunately, you will encounter mosquitoes almost everywhere in the Philippines. Due to the country’s hot and tropical climate, they thrive on virtually every island. It’s a good idea to cover up at dusk and dawn when they are most active, bring along a powerful DEET spray, use anti-mozzie bands, and hang a net above your bed when sleeping.
The critically endangered freshwater crocodile certainly deserves a place on this list of the most dangerous animals in the Philippines. It’s not quite as large as its saltwater compadre (which can also be found on these islands) but still manages to grow up to 10 foot from snout to tail, clocking up potential weights of 190 kilograms. Hefty, eh?
They now live in the northern parts of the country, with their biggest populations in the rainforests of Luzon, on the remote Babuyan Islands, in Isabela, and amid the wild hills of the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. As the name implies, the freshwater crocs of the Philippines reside mainly in rivers and swamps, dining on native fish stocks.
Attacks on humans are rare, but that hasn’t stopped these guys from getting a bit of a reputation as a would-be maneater. It’s easy to see how that came to be, though, what with those jagged rows of teeth and that fear-inducing deathroll attack. Still, the Tagalog people of the Philippines hold the freshwater croc as sacred, believing them to be one of the vehicles by which dead souls pass into the afterlife.
The blue-ringed octopus may look interesting and enticing at first glance but do not let its vibrancy lure you into a false sense of security. In actual fact, these colors are intended to ward off predators and could just be the last thing they see before they suffer the wrath of these highly toxic, enormously venomous sea creatures.
The blue-ringed octopus can be found in shallow sea waters and coral reefs around Australia and Southeast Asia, including in the Philippines. It’s up there with the most dangerous animals in the country because its venom contains the same neurotoxin as many of the world’s other poisonous creatures: Tetrodotoxin, a substance thought to be more powerful than cyanide. An attack from a blue-ringed octopus can result in total bodily paralysis and organ failure pretty quick.
Even though the blue-ringed octopus itself is a fairly docile creature, if it perceives a human as a threat then it will attack. What’s more, skin-to-skin contact is all it takes for the creature to administer its poison. That’s it. No bite. No sting. Just touch one and you could be a goner!
The humble centipede does not, at first glance at least, appear like a creature that would be much cause for concern. However, in the Philippines, the giant centipedes that you may encounter are among some of the most venomous, and most dangerous, animals in the country. They live primarily in forested tropical areas, so be especially cautious of these if you’re planning on doing any jungle trekking or mountain walking, in regions where you’ll spend long periods exploring the great outdoors.
This type of centipede can actually be found all over Asia, and as far west as Russia. However, it’s extremely common around the Malay Peninsula and in the Philippines, where it’s also known as the orange-legged centipede and the jungle centipede. An edgy disposition and an aggressive nature add to the potential dangers. What’s more, the Philippines happens to be one of the few countries in the world that has a recorded death following a bite from one of these – a seven-year-old girl back in 1932.
It’s estimated that there are 12 million stray dogs currently living in the Philippines. 12 million! Let’s just put that into perspective for a moment. That’s six times the population of Manila. It’s the same population of Moscow! They’re so darn common here that the locals even have a special word for stray: Askals. It refers to the indigenous type of canine that’s found all over the country, from Palawan to Davao.
Not only can stray dogs sometimes be aggressive and vicious, meaning that they may put you at risk of injury, but they can also carry a number of diseases, including rabies. In fact, rabies is an unfortunately rampant disease in the Philippines, with the majority of cases coming from the country’s dogs.
We’d recommend keeping a safe distance from any stray dogs you encounter. Travelers thinking about going to more rural parts of the country or working with dogs while traveling the Philippines should also be certain to get that rabies vaccination up to date.
You can find the formidable, and aptly named, titan triggerfish lurking beneath the surface of the seas all around the Philippines. This fish can grow to enormous lengths and is, for the most part, a rather solitary creature. However, they are also the scourge of divers and swimmers in the waters of because of their aggressive nature…
The titan triggerfish, while not a venomous sea creature, can still cause a lot of damage if they decide to attack. They have incredibly large, sharp teeth, which they can use to deliver a very painful bite. They are known for being particularly territorial and aggressive towards other sea creatures and humans.
Divers often run into trouble against the titan triggerfish when they cross into marked territory. If you encounter one of their nests, swim away in a direct line and towards the surface for your best chance at avoiding an unpleasant meeting.
The Philippines is home to a whopping 16 individual types of scorpions. Most live in the thick forests and woodlands of the backcountry, and are rarely seen by travelers. However, encounters do happen, especially in more off-the-beaten-track corners of the country that are increasing in popularity, like Palawan, Siargao and inland Cebu.
Lots of the scorpions of the Philippines carry venom that’s potentially harmful to humans. Take the Asian black forest scorpion, which can’t kill but can cause very painful localized swelling and irritation at the site of the attack.
However, it is important to note that deaths from a scorpion sting are not especially common. It’s still important to seek medical attention if you do fall victim, though, especially if you suffer from allergies.
What is the most dangerous animal in the Philippines?
The most dangerous animal in the Philippines might just be the Philippine cobra, simply due to its natural abundance all over the country and the potency of its venom. However, the Philippines is home to a number of deadly and dangerous creatures, both on land and in the sea, including bull sharks and freshwater crocodiles.
Are there dangerous snakes in the Philippines?
Yep, unfortunately there are plenty of dangerous snakes in the Philippines. As well as the Philippine cobra, there is also the king cobra and yellow-lipped sea krait, which are both highly venomous snakes that can kill humans. There are also some non-venomous snakes in the Philippines that can still pose dangers, like the reticulated python that squeezes its victims to death.
Are there dangerous spiders in the Philippines?
Yes, there are lots of dangerous spiders in the Philippines. Arachnophobes must definitely be wary when traveling these islands, especially as they play host to the formidable black widow spider, which has a venomous bite capable of seriously hurting and even killing a human.