The 9 Most Frightening & Dangerous Animals Found in Fiji

dangerous crocodile fiji
Image by Pexels from Pixabay
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Who doesn’t want to visit Fiji? Beautiful, easy-going Fiji with its 300 islands scattered like jewels across the South Pacific sea. It’s a tropical paradise, filled with white sand beaches, palm trees, hammocks, and cocktails, right? Well, yes it absolutely is, but it’s also home to a fair few dangerous animals. 

With its hot, humid, tropical climate, Fiji is the perfect habitat for some large (and some small) deadly creatures. And with some of the world’s most extensive coral reefs, it’s got plenty of space for some underwater dangers too. 

Don’t get us wrong, Fiji is a paradise and well worth a visit, but there are a few creatures you need to avoid to stay safe on your trip. And you should maybe invest in some reef shoes before you go! To help you prepare further, here’s our list of the 9 most dangerous animals found in Fiji. 

Portuguese man-of-war

The Portuguese Man of War is one of the most dangerous and painful marine animals in Fiji.
Credit Rhalah Wikimedia

Recognizable by the blue or purple sail-shaped bubble that floats on the surface of the water, the Man Of War is not a jellyfish as commonly thought but a Siphonophore. The danger comes from its tentacles, stretching below the surface up to 160 feet long. These tentacles contain a venom that has the power to paralyze and kill small fish. If they come into contact with people, these tentacles can cause great pain, welts, fever, shock, respiratory trouble, and in some cases, unconsciousness and death. 

These tentacles remain dangerous even when separated from the main body of the Man of War or when lying “dead” on the beach. Take care not to touch them under any circumstances and be wary when walking barefoot on the beach. 

These dangerous marine animals are currently fairly rare in Fiji. But there are concerns that climate change and rising sea temperatures will send more Man Of Wars to Fiji’s coasts.

Mosquitos

the mosquitos in Fiji carry a risk of Dengue Fever
Credit John Ragai Wikimedia

Mosquitos can be a nuisance in Fiji, and although they don’t carry malaria, yellow fever, or the Zika virus, there is a risk of Dengue fever. 

Dengue fever has been in Fiji since the 1970s, with outbreaks occurring intermittently since then. The risk has been increasing recently, and in 2018, 4000 cases of Dengue Fever were reported. Symptoms can be mild to severe and include flu-like symptoms, a high fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, and aches in muscles, joints, and behind the eyes. If anyone in your party shows these symptoms, seek medical help immediately because, at its most severe, Dengue Fever can cause organ failure, internal bleeding, and death. 

To limit the risk, use mosquito repellents, avoid stagnant water, don’t visit during the wet season, and always sleep under a mosquito net. And consider taking your vacation on the Yasawa Islands! Their climate is the driest in Fiji, and so has the least mosquitos. 

Centipede

The centipedes of fiji can grow over a foot long and give a very painful bite.
Credit Filo Gen Wikimedia

Fiji’s hot, wet climate is wonderful for many things, but unfortunately, one is growing bugs and growing them big! Many species of centipedes thrive in Fiji and can grow over a foot long. Not perhaps the most dangerous animals in Fiji, but one of the most frightening.

Centipedes are carnivorous creatures who inject venom into their prey to incapacitate it before they eat. This bite is especially painful because of the centipede’s unique method of delivering it. They use forcipules, or the more entertaining name: “Poison Claws”. Sharp, pincer-like appendages that clamp onto their prey holding it while the venom is injected. 

Different centipedes carry different types of toxins, and some can cause a more severe reaction than others. Some cause only redness and swelling, while others cause fever, nausea, and heart palpitations. In rare cases, allergic reactions to the venom have resulted in anaphylactic shock. However, fatalities from centipede bites, even giant ones, are incredibly rare. 

Sea snakes

One of the most dangerous marine animals in Fiji, the banded sea snake's venom is more potent than any land snake.
Credit Jong Marshes Unsplash

There are several species of sea snake in Fiji and the surrounding waters, but the one you’re most likely to come across is the Banded Sea Krait. Also known as the Black and White Banded Sea Krait or Yellow Lipped Sea Krait. This distinctive striped snake likes to hunt on coral reefs and in shallow waters and then heads for land to rest and digest its meals. 

There is a popular myth that banded sea snakes’ mouths are too small to bite humans. This is false; these snakes can bite and swallow eels up to twice their own size! The truth is while these snakes can bite humans, they often choose not to, being generally placid, gentle creatures.

But gentle or not, they will bite when threatened, and their bite can be serious. Strangely the bite does not cause pain at the time and often goes unnoticed until the effects of the venom begin to take effect. Their venom is highly toxic, more so than most land snakes, making it potentially one of the most dangerous animals in Fiji. Luckily it only injects small doses of venom when it bites. You might suffer muscle pain, headache, nausea, blurred vision, and convulsions. If left untreated, Banded Sea Snake venom can lead to renal failure, cardiac arrest, and death. 

Cane Toad

The Cane toad is not venomous but poisonous. it is deadly to predators if eaten.
Credit Fernando Flores Wikimedia

The Cane Toad is not venomous and will not bite, spike, or sting you, it’s not even at all frightening. But it is poisonous and deadly to predators. 

On this toad’s warty back are glands that make and secrete poison. This poison can be fatal to humans, but only if they ingest it. If you did (as some people do in an attempt to get high off the potent chemical cocktail), you would experience hallucinations but also vomiting, convulsions, seizures, and cardiac arrest. 

The poison can also have nasty effects if it gets into eyes or open wounds, so as a rule, it is best not to try to touch or pick up any cane toads you might see. 

Cone shells

One of the most dangerous animals in Fiji is the Geographic Cone Snail.
Credit H Zell Wikimedia

These intricately patterned shells might look pretty, but they hide a deadly secret. The dangerous creatures that live inside are Cone Snails, and they are highly venomous, carnivorous, and predatory. They have a violent attack method which they deploy when they sense food or danger nearby. A needle-like harpoon is shot out of the nose of the shell into its prey. This harpoon then pumps venom into the victim, incapacitating and sometimes killing it.

Cone snails only attack humans when threatened, but since swimmers regularly pick up these pretty shells from the ocean floor, attacks do happen. Smaller cone snail species are not too dangerous to humans. Their venom will generally only cause pain, swelling, tingling, and numbness. However, the larger species can cause worse symptoms, including respiratory distress, heart failure, muscular paralysis, and death. 

The most venomous and dangerous of the 500 species of recorded cone snails is the Geographic Cone, which is native to the reefs around Fiji. It can grow up to 6 inches long and possesses a fast-acting venom that is potent enough to quickly kill humans. It is filled with complex toxins for which there is no antivenom. To avoid being stung, do not try to pick up these shells! 

Fire Coral

Touching fire coral can cause a painful stinging burning sensation.
Credit Rob Wikimedia

Misleadingly named, this is not coral at all but a Hydrazoan, a class of tiny predatory organisms more closely related to anemones and jellyfish. Fire coral has a hard external skeleton that is most often a yellow-green or mustard-brown color with white tips. Brushing against this hard coral can cause scratches and scrapes, but fire coral can also injure with only the lightest of touches. The surface of fire coral contains hairs, minute tentacles that can sting, like jellyfish tentacles, stunning small prey, or causing pain in humans. 

Contact usually results in a localized stinging or burning pain along with a red rash that can welt or blister. Usually treatable by over-the-counter medicines, fire coral only becomes really dangerous if the person stung has an allergic reaction to the venom. In this case, the symptoms can include vomiting, swelling of the lymph nodes, tongue or throat, or trouble breathing.

The best way to avoid contact with Fire Coral is to be respectful of all coral and reefs that you come across. Divers should remember that all corals are living organisms and should never touch any coral they find. 

Stonefish

the stone fish tops our list as teh most dangerous animals in Fiji.
Credit Rikard Zerpe Wikimedia

They’re not the prettiest fish in the world but they are the most venomous. The aptly named stonefish is a master of disguise and camouflage. Their mottled colors often make them often indistinguishable from the rocks and coral in which they hide. They can remain motionless for hours at a time, waiting for their prey to swim by, and the majority of injuries occur when people inadvertently step on one. 

If you step on or squeeze a stonefish, it will raise its dorsal fin, which contains several needle-sharp spines. These spines will pierce your skin and inject their venom. The venom is some of the most toxic in the world and can kill a human in a short space of time. Symptoms include swelling of the stung limb, extreme pain, tissue death, shock, paralysis, respiratory distress, heart failure, and death. However, since the invention of an effective antivenom in the 1950s, deaths from Stonefish stings have become rare, but frequent hospitalizations still occur.

Many stonefish live in the waters around Fiji and are extremely difficult to see. They can also survive out of the water at low tide, for 24 hours. So you can even step on one of these monsters on the beaches. The best way to avoid them is to wear reef shoes when walking in or near the water. And avoid stepping on any rocks!

Saltwater Crocodile

The saltwater crocodile is responsible for 1000 human deaths a year.
Credit Fvanrenterghem Wikimedia

Unlike the majority of animals on our dangerous creatures list, these Apex predators can and will attack humans without provocation. Saltwater crocodiles have a history of attacking humans are responsible for an estimated 1000 human deaths each year.

Saltwater crocs can grow up to 20ft long and weigh an incredible 1000kgs. Although they have been spotted swimming miles out to sea, these crocs generally live in brackish water around estuaries, mangrove swamps, and the mouths of rivers. They lie in wait, and as their prey ventures forth to drink water, the croc will ambush with speed surprising for their size. It will attack and then drag its prey underwater to drown it. 

These crocodiles can travel many miles of open ocean, and they have a huge habitat of which Fiji is at the furthest western edge. Perhaps because of this, there is no record of a resident population of Saltwater Crocodiles in Fiji. Sightings and rare attacks seem to be due to the occasional visitor. However, reports from other countries suggest that since the hunting of Saltwater Crocs was banned, their numbers and range are growing every year. Northern Australia and the nearby Soloman Islands have reported rising populations and rising instances of human attacks. Let’s hope those numbers don’t reach Fiji and sightings of these dangerous and frightening animals stay low. 

Despite its many dangerous animals, Fiji is still a tropical paradise.
Credit Gary Runn

What is the most dangerous animal in Fiji?

Objectively it’s the Saltwater Crocodile for its ability to swiftly and effectively kill a person. However, given the rarity of these reptiles, we’ll have to give the title of the most dangerous animals in Fiji to the more common stonefish. These tricky creatures are highly venomous, extremely painful, and far too good at hiding to be easily avoided. 

Are there tigers in Fiji?

No, there are no tigers in Fiji. 

What is the most dangerous snake in Fiji?

There is only one venomous land snake in Fiji, the Bolo Snake. However, it is extremely elusive and has only been recorded on the island of Viti Levu. Fiji has several venomous sea snakes, though, the most dangerous of which is the Banded Sea Krait. 

Are there dangerous spiders in Fiji?

There are some large spiders in Fiji, including mildly venomous tarantulas but none of which are particularly dangerous for humans.

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Anita is from Wales and has been a travel addict since her first trip to Australia ten years ago. Since then she's lived and worked in Oz, New Zealand and Canada, worked many ski seasons and travelled widely through South East Asia, Morocco, India and Europe. She's a nomad, freelance writer, foodie, compulsive reader, tea addict and animal lover.