Animals That Eat Humans

Man-eater is the name given to any animal that has eaten a human being. However, that doesn’t mean that all animals are man-eaters.

Animals That Eat Humans

Humans can be attacked by many different types of animals, but that doesn’t mean they are an active part of their diet. 

Many people confuse the term man-eater for any animal that has eaten a human, but sometimes this act has come out of desperation. Man-eaters are animals who will see the opportunity to eat a human and actively hunt them as prey.

In this article, we’ll be going into more detail about animals that are classed as man-eaters, and why they are known for this.

1. American Black Bears

Contrary to popular belief, American black bears won’t go out of their way to actively hunt humans. However, if they are hungry enough, they may attack due to limited food sources.

Many American black bears aren’t as territorial or as protective of their cubs as grizzly bears are, but there have been notable cases where black bears have attacked and killed humans.

Attacks by American black bears often occurred at national parks by campgrounds. If an American black bear is hungry enough it will attack, but generally, they will often avoid confronting humans, and may choose to sare them instead. 

2. Alligators

Many humans have built homes on alligator habitats, and because of that, alligator attacks can occur if a human finds themselves in an alligator’s habitat.

When they attack, they can kill a human, and many times this occurs when they mistake a human for something else. In Florida, where there are the most gators, there are roughly five deaths per year.

In most cases, alligators are less threatening than crocodiles as they don’t tend to feed on humans. The main incidents that occur are when a human falls into waters where alligators live. 

3. Asian Black Bears

Compared to American and European bears, Asian black bears are known for being more aggressive to humans despite their shy behavior.

Over the years, there have been more attacks in India and Kashmir, with regular attacks reported at local hospitals. 

The reason Asian black bears are more dangerous than their European and American counterparts is because they can be encountered and surprised in close quarters.

As other bears are found in more open spaces, they are less likely to be surprised by humans, and it is why Asian black bears are more dangerous. 

4. Brown Bears

Animals That Eat Humans

Although brown bears don’t usually attack humans on sight, they do have an unpredictable temperament. It is hard to tell when they are surprised or threatened.

Depending on how brown bears respond, they may attack out of surprise and curiosity, and they tend to be more protective of their cubs. 

Most of the attacks from brown bears in North America come from brown bears who are protecting their young. If they live in an area inhabited by humans, they are more likely to attack due to being less afraid of them.

5. Catfish

Over the years, there have been reports of catfish killing humans around the Kali River in India, and around Europe.

When the Sobral Santos II sank in the Amazon River in 1981, it was believed that large predatory catfish contributed to the loss of life in the disaster. 

6. Crocodiles

Compared to alligators, crocodiles are known to be more aggressive towards humans. However, this is only true for larger crocodiles such as Nile and Saltwater crocodiles.

These types of crocodile are responsible for hundreds of attacks on humans. As crocodile attacks tend to occur in impoverished areas and regions of unrest, it’s hard to gauge how many attacks happen on an annual basis.

Most attacks by crocodiles happen in Africa, but there are challenges when reporting these attacks. However, there have also been many attacks recorded in Southeast Asia and Australia.

7. Komodo Dragons

Admittedly, Komodo dragons don’t necessarily attack humans as they live on remote islands. However, they have been known to attack and treat humans as prey.

Despite the large size of the Komodo dragon, they are relatively unsuccessful at hunting humans, but will still leave them with severe wounds. 

8. Leopards

Animals That Eat Humans

Although they are mostly known for scavenging around human corpses, they have been known to attack humans. In India and Asia, leopards are known to attack at night, and have even gone so far as to attack people in their homes. 

Leopards will mostly attack humans after scavenging on human corpses and getting a taste for human flesh. Therefore, in these areas, leopard attacks are much more likely. 

9. Lions

Similarly to the tiger, lions will often hunt humans due to hunger, old age, or illness, but they can also attack when they’re in perfect health. There have been reports of lions entering villages at night to find prey, with occasional visits during daylight.

However, because of this they are relatively easier to deal with when compared to tigers.

Man-eating lions in Africa will typically eat people alongside other foods. In some areas, lion attacks are more of a problem, while in other areas, lions are more likely to leave people alone. Different types of lions act differently.

10. Piranhas

Over the years, piranhas have attacked many people in the Amazon basin, and will go after any human who will fall into their habitat. There are some Brazilian rivers that will put warning signs up to warn people of piranhas in them. 

Despite this, piranhas are not necessarily as dangerous as the media will have you believe. Generally, they are more likely to feed on drowning victims, with few fatal attacks on people.

Nonetheless, swimmers should be careful in environments where piranhas reside. 

11. Polar Bears

Attacks from polar bears are rare due to how far away humans will typically live from polar bear habitats. However, there have been reports of polar bears attacking people, especially if they are young or malnourished.

They may also be protecting their territory, or they may be struggling to find natural prey, and choosing a nearby human instead. 

12. Pythons

Animals That Eat Humans

While not all pythons are a danger to humans, there are some pythons, such as the reticulated python, that will attack humans.

Some pythons are large enough to consume an adult human, and the reticulated python has the highest number of human fatalities attributed to them. 

In many cases, snakes can’t just swallow a human, but many pythons rely on constriction to squeeze their prey to death.

However, while reticulated pythons have the most fatalities, the Burmese pythons, green anaconda, and Central African rock pythons. 

13. Sharks

Contrary to popular belief, not all sharks are a threat to humans. There are only four sharks that have been known to harm humans in unprovoked attacks: great whites, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and oceanic whitetip sharks.

Many attacks however will occur due to a case of mistaken identity or curiosity.

The great white has attacked most humans, however, many of these cases have been due to test bites, where they may have mistaken a human for a seal.

More people attribute great white attacks to them being man-eating monsters, however this is not true, as humans are not their preferred prey.

14. Tigers

Of all the big cats who have been known to attack humans, tigers have eaten the most humans out of all of their species. Tigers will attack humans when they come too close, to protect their food, or also to protect their cubs.

However, it can also occur due to a case of mistaken identity. If a tiger has to stop hunting their natural prey, they may shift to humans as they are much easier to chase.

Despite this, they will mostly attack humans if they can’t go after their usual prey. However, there are some rare cases where a healthy tiger will attack a human. Generally, tiger attacks are more likely to occur 

15. Wolves

Although more prevalent in history, wolf attacks are rare nowadays. Generally, wolves are less likely to attack someone in North America.

However, if they were to attack someone, they would be more likely to attack a child or woman, but generally, wolves will rarely approach people. 

As a general rule, wolves won’t typically attack a wolf to eat them, but will often attack out of defense. If a wolf does attack, it will most likely happen in areas where wolves grow accustomed to humans coming into contact with them.

Therefore, it is recommended that people keep a safe distance from wolves and allow them to live in peace. 

Final Thoughts

There aren’t many animals who will treat humans as prey, and in many cases it is done in self defense. Over the years, there has been a history of man-eating wildlife, but over the years, these attacks have lessened over time.

Most attacks will be caused by animals who are starving and will attack people in moments of desperation where they are unable to hunt.

However, it is generally recommended to keep your distance from wild animals. While they may be friendly, most wildlife will attack if humans come too close. 

Olivia Kepner