Home Europe The 9 Most Dangerous Animals In Russia: Bears And Big Cats

The 9 Most Dangerous Animals In Russia: Bears And Big Cats

A russian brown bear walking through a forest clearing
Photo by twenty20photos from Envato Elements

Russia is the world’s largest country and is home to one of the most incredibly diverse and mysterious ecosystems across the globe. From historic cities to the idyllic countryside, epic cross-country train journeys, and vodka-fueled adventures – Russia truly has it all, and it pays off learning some basic phrases along the way. But what about the most dangerous animals in Russia?

The country is vast with huge remote spaces hours away from any trace of human civilization. Russia’s Far East regional area provides the perfect habitats for some of the most elusive yet dangerous animals in the world.

If you’re looking to experience a different side of Russia and venture into the wilderness, make sure you are clued up on the most dangerous animals in Russia that you may encounter. We’ve done the research and compiled all the information you need to know.

Brown Bear

Big brown bear in the sunset in the woods. This bear is called ursus arctos.
Photo by kjekol from Envato Elements
Latin NameUrsus arctos beringianus
HabitatDeep and remote forests in dens and hideouts
DangersExtremely powerful jaws and large claws, can display aggressive behavior in some circumstances
IUCN StatusLeast concern

Brown bears are one of the most famous animals in Russia and were chosen as the mascot for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. The brown bear population in Russia is the largest in the world with an estimated 100,000+ wild and roaming individuals.

The Russian brown bear subspecies are often referred to as the Kamchatka brown bear or the Far Eastern brown bear. They are the largest variety of brown bears in Eurasia, growing up to 2.4 m (7.9 ft) to 3 m (9.8 ft) tall on hind legs, with a weight up to at least 650 kg (1,430 lb). Brown bears are not as clumsy as people often believe; despite their large size, bears are extremely agile.

Brown bears are native to Russian forests and can be found in several areas:

  • Anadyrsky District
  • Kamchatka Peninsula
  • Karaginskiy Island
  • Kuril Islands
  • Stanovoy Range
  • Shantar Islands

Bears are omnivores, but they don’t make a habit of eating humans. However, there have been cases of bear attacks across the Russian wilderness. Most attacks are due to curiosity or protecting cubs. Make sure you are prepared with local knowledge and know what to do if you encounter a brown bear in Russia.

Polar Bear

Polar bear in the wilderness
Photo by ABBPhoto from Envato Elements
Latin NameUrsus maritimus
HabitatFar north coastal areas
DangersExtremely powerful jaws and large claws, can display aggressive behavior in some circumstances
IUCN StatusEndangered

Russia also has a polar bear population in the far reaches of the north. These white bears inhabit the drifting and coastal sea ice on the border of the Arctic. Here they have access to most of their prey: ringed seal, bearded seal, walrus, and other marine animals.

However, polar bears are beginning to venture further south as climate change warms the planet and destroys their natural habitats. Hungry and exhausted polar bears have been seen wandering Russian cities in recent years in search of food. Polar bears are recognized as an endangered species in Russia and so hunting them is banned.

The polar bear is a powerful and dangerous animal in Russia that should always be treated with respect and caution. A polar bear can cause serious damage with a single swing of its large paw. Males can weigh as much as 350–700 kg (770–1,540 lb). Attacks on humans happen when the bears feel threatened, so always give them space if you run into one.

Amur Tiger

Amur tiger lying and rest in a forest habitat
Photo by kjekol from Envato Elements
Latin NamePanthera tigris altaica
HabitatMountain forests of eastern Russia
DangersExtremely powerful jaws and large claws, can display aggressive behavior in some circumstances
IUCN StatusEndangered

Formally known as the Siberian tiger, the Amur tiger is one of the largest cats in the world. The average weight for males is 160-190 kg (352 – 420 lbs). There are an estimated 500-550 individuals in Russia’s Far East; this is ten times the population in the 1940s when the species was on the brink of extinction.

Amur tigers have a slightly thicker and lighter coat than their bright orange southern counterparts, helping them through the wintery conditions of Russia. They hunt wild boar, sika deer and red deer, and other smaller mammals. While human is not on the menu, they have been known to attack when threatened.

These big cats can only be found in the mountain forests of eastern Russia, some venturing over the border to northern China

Grey Wolf

Wolf (Canis lupus) in autumn forest. Grey wolf in natural habitat
Photo by Nataljusja from Envato Elements
Latin NameCanis lupus
HabitatAcross most areas of Russia
DangersExtremely powerful jaws and work in packs, can display aggressive behavior in some circumstances
IUCN StatusLeast concern

Wolves are notoriously dangerous animals and are the most common predator in Russia. They can be found across most of the country, just not in the northernmost islands and taiga thickets. Grey wolves live in packs with a dominant alpha male; this makes them extremely dangerous to humans as they are highly likely to attack.

Russia competes with Canada for the world’s largest grey wolf population. Official data estimated there are over 45,000 individuals in the Russian wild. There are no laws to protect the species from hunting. In the event of any unfortunate encounters with a wolf pack, experts advise you to climb up the nearest tree and wait until they lose patience. Attacks on humans are rare, however, they are generally more unpredictable during early Spring when food sources are lower.

One of the oldest forms of punishment in the Old Rus state involved a savage execution by wolves. Those being punished would be tied to a tree and left for the wolves in the middle of the forest.

Wild Boar

Big wild boar walking in a green forest
Photo by eAlisa from Envato Elements
Latin NameSus scrofa
HabitatMarsh and swamp areas across Russian forests
DangersExtremely strong and large tusks, can display unpredictable behavior in some circumstances
IUCN StatusLeast concern

Hikers and hunters will argue that a wild boar is more deadly than a bear. Unlike bears, wild boars have poor eyesight and are likely to charge at humans when encountered in the forest. With a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph), getting out of their way can be challenging!

The average boar weighs around 200 kilograms (441 lbs) at a height ranging from 55 – 120 cm measured to the shoulder. Coupled with this extreme weight is the most lethal part of the boar, the tusks. They are solid and powerful, making the wild boar one of the most dangerous animals in Russia. Female boars are particularly aggressive when protecting their young.

Wild boars can be found across Russia and are renowned in the Amur region for attacking vehicles. They tend to stick to swampy and marshy terrain. The boars’ diet is varied consisting of eggs, mice, lizards, worms, and even snakes.

Common Northern Viper

Toxic common viper, vipera berus, lying on the ground in autumn. Poisonous patterned snake observing from dry grass. Wild reptile looking from fall land.
Photo by WildMediaSK from Envato Elements
Latin NameVipera berus
HabitatAcross most of Russia’s forests
DangersVenomous bite and extremely well camouflaged
IUCN StatusLeast concern

Russia’s most venomous snake is the common northern viper which is found throughout the forest spaces. This snake is perfectly camouflaged against the undergrowth and can go undetected in most encounters. In most cases, the viper feels the vibration of oncoming footfall and gets out of the way.

These snakes can grow up to 60 – 90 cm (24 – 35 in). The head is typically flat and boxy, while colors do vary from a very light color with small, incomplete, dark dorsal crossbars to entirely brown specimens with faint or clear, darker brown markings. As the name suggests, this viper is commonly distributed across Europe and throughout Russia, even up to the Arctic circle.

The venom of this viper is potent and strong enough to kill a child or the elderly. Adults will experience discomfort and should seek medical attention if bitten. Most cases can be treated with a general antihistamine. However, some people may display anaphylactic reactions and be in a more severe state.

Catfish

A close up of a catfish in clear river water
Photo by twenty20photos from Envato Elements
Latin NameSiluriformes
HabitatIn rivers across Russia, mainly the Amur River
DangersHard and dense teeth, and potentially aggressive behavior
IUCN StatusLeast concern

Possibly one of the most surprisingly dangerous animals in Russia is the catfish. Some individuals can grow to an astonishing 5 meters (16 feet) and weigh up to 360 kilograms (793 lbs). Of course, these giants are rare, however, they are still out there in Russian rivers.

Catfish are extremely smart and opportunist hunters. They tend to go for anything within their size range that enters the water; dogs have been known to be attacked on occasions. Attacks on humans have also been recorded!

These large and lethal fish can live in waters ranging from 5ºC to 25ºC. They are most commonly seen in the Amur River in the Far East of Russia, extending into China. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled when you’re on a fishing expedition in Russia.

Karakurt Spider

A birght yellow karakurt spider is the most dangerous spider in Russia
Photo by leungchopan from Envato Elements
Latin NameSiluriformes
HabitatIn rivers across Russia, mainly the Amur River
DangersHard and dense teeth, and potentially aggressive behavior
IUCN StatusLeast concern

The karakurt spider is striking in appearance and is one of the most dangerous spiders in the world, along with the black widow and brown recluse. These spiders can be encountered in Russia’s Astrakhan region. During the summer months, karakurt spiders do migrate north and can even be found in urban areas, including Moscow. The most common habitats however are in rocky ravines.

Identifying karakurt spiders is fairly easy. They are bright yellow with distinct black stripes across the body and legs. The color reflects the venomous nature of this spider. The actual bite itself is mild, but searing pain spreads after a matter of hours.

If bitten you must seek urgent medical attention. Wilderness experts also provide a must-do procedure in the event of an emergency and medical assistance is not readily available: immediately after being bitten, take a lit match and burn the wound to burn off any venom that is yet to enter the body. This will reduce the pain and symptoms across the body.

Tick

A tick crawling on a mans hand
Photo by twenty20photos from Envato Elements
Latin NameIxodida
HabitatWooded areas across Russia
DangersParasitic and disease-carrying insects that can bite undetected
IUCN StatusLeast concern

And last but not least, we have the common tick. This small and insignificant insect should not be overlooked. A bite from a tick can cause serious problems for humans. Ticks can carry some nasty diseases:

  • Encephalitis – crippling inflammation of the brain leading the victim to experience seizures, hallucinations, memory and hearing problems, as well as trouble speaking.
  • Lyme disease – a severe infectious illness that if left untreated can lead to the inability to move sides of the face, extreme headaches, and severe joint pains.

Ticks are found in wooded areas and animal trails where live large animals may pass, including humans. They latch on to their victim and attempt to burrow under the skin in vulnerable places, such as between the toes, behind the ear, and on the neck.

Tick bites are difficult to recognize and you may not notice being bitten. They tend to show up as black spots on the skin. If you notice anything unusual, be sure to seek medical attention from a trained doctor.

Summary: Most Dangerous Russian Animals

A large brown bear walking through a green forest in daylight
Photo by johan10 from Envato Elements

So there you have it! The not-so-good, the utterly bad, and the darn right ugly of Russian animals. These species are the most dangerous animals in Russia that you may encounter whether you are on a city break or an exploration through the depths of the forests. Always have your wits about you and be aware of what may be lurking in the shadows.

Does Russia have any poisonous animals?

Russia has a select few poisonous animals including the Common Northern Viper and the Karakurt Spider. Both animals have enough venom in their bites to cause serious discomfort. However, neither are likely strong enough to kill a healthy human adult. That being said, do your best to avoid poisonous animals in Russia.

What is the most dangerous animal in Russia?

The grey wolf is considered one of the most dangerous animals in Russia due to its pack characteristic. Encounters with wolf packs at times when food sources are low can be deadly. If an encounter happens, you need to climb the nearest tree and wait until the alpha male decides it’s time to move on.

Seasoned hunters and hikers, however, would argue the wild boar is the most dangerous animal in Russia. Boars have poor vision and unpredictable behavior. Pair this with large tusks and a dense body mass, then you have a lethal animal.

Are there venomous snakes in Russia?

There are several species of snake found throughout Russia and the Common Northern Viper is a venomous variety. This snake doesn’t often attack humans and tends to get out of the way when they sense footfall nearby. They can be found across the forests and are excellently camouflaged.

What animal kills the most humans in Russia?

There are horror stories of people being mauled to death by brown bears in Russia. Unfortunately, as people venture into the forests for hunting expeditions, they disturb mothers and cubs which leads to attacks and fatalities. Brown bears only attack humans when they feel threatened or are protecting their young.