The mosquito is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. Image Credit: Unsplash/Erik Karits

When you think of the most dangerous animals, what do you picture? Apex predators like sharks, lions and wolves, perhaps.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we realise that size and strength has nothing to do with the most ‘deadly’ creatures.

Lions and sharks might seem terrifying, but they are not responsible for a large number of human deaths. According to UK-based BBC Wildlife Magazine, sharks only average about six human deaths a year, and lions rack up just 22.

Here are some animals that are considered deadly to humans, and they just might surprise you:

1. Mosquitos: 725,000 to 1 million deaths per year

This tiny creature is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. It doesn’t set out to be a global killer, though. Considered to be frequent ‘disease vectors’, mosquitos feed on both human and animal blood, and in the process, incidentally transmit infectious pathogens (which carry bacteria, viruses and parasites) from one person to another. Malaria, for instance, is spread by female Anopheles mosquitos – the disease is so widespread and lethal, it has had a huge impact on human history and the pursuit of effective vaccines.

2. Humans: 431,000 deaths per year

It may seem like a cliché, but humans are one of the deadliest creatures out there. Homicides account for an estimated 431,000 deaths a year, and people’s ability to develop and use advanced and complex weapons to eradicate each other has likely led to this whopping number of deaths. Human impact on the environment is also another indirect cause of destruction – climate change has been estimated to cause over 150,000 deaths annually, with the World Health Organisation expecting the number to increase by 250,000 additional deaths per year, between 2030 and 2050.

3. Freshwater snails: 200,000 deaths per year

Slow and lethal, freshwater snails are hosts to deadly parasites, such as flatworms known as flukes. There are as many as 24,000 species of flukes in the world. One such species, called Schistosoma, are released by snails into water, and lead to infections in humans who are exposed to contaminated freshwater. These flukes are able to penetrate human skin and cause a deadly disease called schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever.

4. Saw-scaled viper: 138,000 deaths per year

Yes, there had to be a snake on this list – the stuff of nightmares. The venomous saw-scaled viper holds the record as the deadliest snake, when it comes to mortality rates. Snake bites, in general, cause an estimated 138,000 deaths annually. The saw-scaled viper is particularly aggressive, so it’s deadlier than the far more toxic, but shy in-land taipan snake. To top it off, the viper has potent venom and is usually present in highly populated areas, making it truly dangerous.

5. Assassin bugs: 10,000 deaths per year

Forget cockroaches and wasps. The bugs to fear are assassin bugs, which commonly live in Central and South America. Some species of this bug are responsible for spreading Chagas disease, which kills approximately 10,000 people a year around the world. These bugs are also known as ‘kissing bugs’ since they tend to bite people’s faces while they’re sleeping.

What do you think of these dangerous creatures? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at