The 8 Most Dangerous Animals In Indiana

dangerous animals in indiana
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It’s always a good idea to check whether there are any dangerous animals in Indiana before you visit. That way, you won’t be terrified when you come across a snake or spider that you have never seen before.

When it comes to dangerous animals in Indiana, the news is good. There are relatively few animals in this area that can actually kill you. At first glance, some of the animals here will seem incredibly deadly and terrifying. But then, when you look at the stats, they may not have killed anyone in years – or perhaps ever!

Deadly animals come in all shapes and sizes, with Indiana having an impressive range. In this list, you’ll find dangers from half an inch right up to 7 feet. So, if you want to know what to look out for, you’ll want to check this out!

1. Coyotes

A coyote makes its way into suburbia.
A coyote makes its way through suburbia: Thomas Shockley,

First up on our list of dangerous animals in Indiana is the coyote. The coyote, a close relative of the gray wolf, has a bit of a mixed reputation in Indiana. On one hand, there are rescues dedicated to them. On the other, hunting them is somewhat encouraged.

Much smaller than the gray wolf, coyotes can grow up to 40 pounds and are beginning to make their presence felt in urban areas. Due to the presence of food and shelter, coyotes are beginning to venture into suburban areas and causing a bit of trouble.

Occasionally, they will chase cyclists, attack household pets, and even try to stalk small children. They also like to hunt in small groups, which can easily intimidate. However, coyote attacks on humans are relatively rare – only around 160 from 1976-2006. Even then, only 2 of these attacks were fatal and neither happened in Indiana. Of these fatalities, the most infamous occurred in Canada in 2009 and has since become the subject of a documentary.

The good news is that coyotes are definitely more afraid of us than we are of them. They’re also pretty easy to deal with. Never leave your pets outside and unattended, and make sure that the coyotes don’t have an easy source of food. It is also a good idea to routinely scare them off if they venture onto your property. This will condition them to avoid humans in the future. Known to be one of the most vocal of all North American wildlife – you will hear them before you see them.

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2. The Massasauga Rattlesnake

A Massasauga Rattlesnake lurks under a branch.
Dangerous snakes in Indiana; the Massasauga Rattlesnake. Image: Tyler Lagalo,

Next on our list of dangerous animals in Indiana is a creature that it is totally natural to be more than a little afraid of; the Massasauga rattlesnake. With fully grown adults coming in at anywhere between 24 and 30 inches, they aren’t quite as large as the picture makes them look. But what they lack in size, they more than make up for in fearsomeness. The Massasauga’s venom will destroy human tissue and also contains an enzyme that stops the blood from clotting. That’s not a good mix! In fact, it can even kill you if not treated properly.

Now for the good news. The Massasauga rattlesnake is listed as endangered in Indiana, with sightings occurring very infrequently. On top of that, they also have a tendency to shy away from conflict with humans. However, they have been known to bite if you interfere with them or accidentally step on them. The best course of action is to be vigilant when hiking and to wear appropriate footwear. If highly venomous snakes are your thing, you might also enjoy our article on ‘The 7 Most Dangerous Snakes in Mexico‘.

3. The Brown Recluse Spider

A Brown Recluse, one of the most dangerous animals in India, crawls between some pillows.
Dangerous spiders in Indiana; the Brown Recluse. Image: rlockeby, Pixabay

A solid contender for the most terrifying critter on this list, the Brown Recluse is the literal definition of “small, but mighty”. Though smaller than an inch in length, you really don’t want to get bitten by one of these.

At first, a Brown Recluse bite won’t feel all that bad. But what happens next is crucial. The venom is necrotic – as in, it eats your flesh. These bites also carry all sorts of side effects. There’s soft tissue damage, blood clots, damage to the organs, or even death in extreme cases. Those at the highest risk of extreme reactions are children, the elderly, or those with weak immune systems. If you do get bitten, your best course of action is to put an ice-pack on it and go get medical care.

The good news is that bites aren’t always significant enough to require medical attention. But considering that they are one of only 3 spiders in North America to have “medically significant venom”, we probably wouldn’t take our chances here! What’s perhaps most disturbing about these guys is that they tend to hide in the corners of sheds, garages, and closets. They don’t pose a problem if they are left alone. But, if you are putting on a shoe, it might be worth taking a second to make sure that nothing is lurking within.

4. The Southern Black Widow Spider

The Southern Black Widow Spider showing its distinctive red hourglass markings.
A well-known dangerous animal; the Souther Black Widow Spider. Image: slummis, Pixabay

Yes, that one. The black one with the red hourglass mark on its back. It is indeed native to Indiana. Given their status as probably the most feared arachnid on the planet, you’ll be glad to hear that they are nowhere near as deadly as the movies would suggest. They’re also smaller than you may have expected. The female grows to about half an inch; the male, only a quarter. But, that doesn’t mean you want to be bitten by one! A Southern Black Widow bite has all sorts of nasty symptoms. There’s nausea, severe cramps, tremors, weakness, and difficulty breathing.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Though Black Widow bites in the US are recorded at a rate of around 2,000 per year, there have been zero fatalities in the last few decades. One reason for that is that they really aren’t all that interested in us. Instead, they prefer to avoid us entirely and prey on insects. For insects, they are definitely one of the most dangerous animals in Indiana. For us, we just need to make sure to avoid provoking them and we should be fine. These creepy crawlies are also found further South and feature in our ‘11 Most Toxic and Dangerous Animals in Mexico‘ article.

5. The Timber Rattlesnake

Coiled and ready for action; the rare but dangerous Timber Rattlesnake.
Rare in Indiana, but still dangerous; the Timber Rattlesnake. Image: NajaShots,

The Timber Rattlesnake is most definitely one of the most dangerous animals in Indiana. At least, that’s how it looks on paper. They have long fangs, produce a lot of venom, and are pretty large at a maximum length of around 5 feet. All of this combined means that their bite is quite formidable. If you are bitten, it is absolutely an emergency and needs to be treated right away. If you are unlucky enough for this to happen, what you can expect is aggressive hemorrhaging, followed by the gradual shutdown of your nervous system. None of that sounds too pleasant to us!

But, for any of this to apply, you would first need to provoke it. And that’s going to be pretty tough to do considering how rarely they are spotted. As the name suggests, the Timber Rattlesnake is normally found in wooded areas and rugged terrain. You are most likely to encounter one in Brown County State Park. The Timber Rattlesnake is endangered everywhere else in Indiana.

6. The Western Cottonmouth Snake

A large adult Western Cottonmouth Snake.
The most dangerous animals in Indiana; the Western Cottonmouth. Image: Pattavina Pete, USFWS, pixnio

The Western Cottonmouth Snake is another solid contender for the most dangerous animal in Indiana. Thick and muscular in appearance, they can grow to a maximum length of around 62 inches or just over 5 feet. The Western Cottonmouth is dark grayish-brown in color, becoming darker as they age. But it’s not just the big ones you need to look out for. Even when they are newborns, the Western Cottonmouth has fangs sharp enough to pierce the skin that are fully loaded with venom. If you’re unlucky enough to get bitten, some of the effects that you can expect are necrosis of the flesh and anaphylactic shock.

It’s not all bad news though. Generally speaking, the Western Cottonmouth will do everything in its power to avoid contact with possible predators – and that includes us! However, you should not approach one if you see it. They do have a tendency to hold their ground rather than fleeing. Thankfully for us, there hasn’t been a sighting of a Cottonmouth in Indiana for over a decade now. Still, if you are unlucky enough to be bitten by one, you’ll definitely need medical attention.

7. The Kissing Bug

The small but mighty Kissing Bug; common in Indiana.
Small but deadly; the Kissing Bug. Image: Shoemcfly,

Kissing Bugs get their rather cute name from their habit of feeding from around peoples’ mouths. But, they aren’t looking for stray morsels of food. No; like mosquitos, these guys are out for blood. And that’s not where the similarities end. Like with a mosquito bite, you are likely to sleep through this “kiss”, unaware of the fact that you have effectively become dinner. In fact, more often than not, they will even go back for seconds. So, if you notice between 2 and 20 bites in one area, this is a likely culprit.

Don’t be fooled by the enticing and harmless moniker. Bites can cause anaphylactic shock. When this happens, your blood pressure will drop and you’ll also have some difficulty breathing. In very rare cases, they can also cause heart disease or even a rapid death. They can also transfer Chagas disease. For most, you may not even notice any symptoms of this disease. With others, it can lead to heart problems in the long run. The good news? As of yet, there is no proof that the kissing bugs in Indiana carry the Chagas disease. Better news again; Kissing Bugs are unlikely to be found indoors in Indiana.

8. Deer

The most dangerous animal in Indiana (by sheer numbers of casualties); the deer.
The most dangerous animal in Indiana; the deer. Image: HendrikDB,

First up; no, this isn’t a misguided attempt at humor. Sure, they don’t bite and they’re not venomous, but that’s not where their deadly potential lies. The fact that these guys frequently end up in traffic collisions makes them the most dangerous animal in the entire United States! On an average year in Indiana, over 14,000 deer-vehicle collisions are reported. Of those, the vast majority happen in September through to December.

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you. All you can really do is take every available precaution. Deer are at their most active at dawn and dusk. Be particularly cautious during these times. Drive at a speed that allows you plenty of stopping time. And, if you see a deer crossing in front of you, this means there is likely to be another behind it. Keep your eyes peeled. These collisions cause hundreds of injuries and even a few fatalities in Indiana every year. We would recommend having a look at this government-issued doc if you intend to drive in Indiana.

What spiders in Indiana can kill you?

Out of 400+ spider species in Indiana, there are only really two with the venomous capacity to kill you; the Brown Recluse and the Southern Black Widow. Luckily, neither are all that aggressive.

Are there venomous snakes in Indiana?

There are 4 types of venomous snakes native to Indiana; the Eastern Copperhead, Western Cottonmouth, Eastern Massasauga, and the Timber Rattlesnake.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like ‘Spiders In Mexico: 7 Venomous, Large, And Unusual Species‘.

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Founder of Journeying The Globe. Adventurer and hustler. I have been traveling for the last four years, splitting most of my time between Thailand and Bali.