Top 5 Animal Attack Myths

Written by Michael Wynands If you find yourself in a literal battle of man vs. beast, best not to enter the ring armed with misinformation. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the Top 5 Animal Attack Myths. Anyone who’s ever been camping has likely received a lecture from the self-proclaimed wilderness expert in their life as to how they should react in the event of an animal attack. Well, it turns out that constantly regurgitating the same pieces of pop survival knowledge doesn’t ACTUALLY make them true. Let’s tear these misconceptions limb from limb before some wild creature does the same to you. Special thanks to our user Ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Written by Michael Wynands

Top 5 Animal Attack Myths

If you find yourself in a literal battle of man vs. beast, best not to enter the ring armed with misinformation.

Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the Top 5 Animal Attack Myths.

Anyone who’s ever been camping has likely received a lecture from the self-proclaimed wilderness expert in their life as to how they should react in the event of an animal attack.

Well, it turns out that constantly regurgitating the same pieces of pop survival knowledge doesn’t ACTUALLY make them true. Let’s tear these misconceptions limb from limb before some wild creature does the same to you.

#5: Just Pee on a Jellyfish Sting

Ah, the familiar day-ruining sting of this alien-looking sea creature. You scream, frantically swim to shore and begin the ritual of writhing in agony. Then, sure enough, everyone starts offering you golden showers. Well, toxicologist Christopher Holstege at University of Virginia has weighed in on the concept of urine as a jellyfish sting pain-reliever, and guess what? He calls it “worthless”. Freshwater aggravates the nematocysts on the skin causing the pain. While the salt and electrolytes found in urine could theoretically help, unless the donor is severely dehydrated, their urine will still be too similar to freshwater, and likely to intensify the discomfort. Holstege suggests saltwater as the best readily available rinsing liquid.

#4: Punching A Shark In The Nose Is The Most Effective Defense

You’d think this goes without saying, but a punch to the nose isn’t your best survival strategy when squaring off against this aquatic predator. And yet, it has long been the popular recommended defense. First flaw: underwater, your punch will prove even less powerful against a creature of that size than it would on land. Second: a shark’s nose is dangerously close to its chomping mouth. So while you should strike back, you need to pick your target. According to Ph.D. shark ecology and conservation student David Shiffman, you want to aim for the eyes. Attacking the gills has also proven effective for surfers during an attack. Why? Creatures prioritize self-preservation when vision or respiratory systems are threatened.

#3: Play Dead In A Bear Attack

The danger of this myth is its lack of clarity. Playing dead can work, but not in ALL situations and certainly not as a first line of defense. Playing dead at the wrong time... could prove fatal. So what should you do? According to the National Park Service, there are general rules in the case of a chance encounter: make yourself known to it by talking calmly, avoid sudden movements or aggressive sounds, slowly move away, and, if the bear advances, stop and make yourself appear large. If a brown bear attacks, play dead. If a black bear attacks however, playing dead is suicide. If you can’t get into the safety of your car, fight for you life.

#2: You Should Run in a ZigZag Pattern From Alligators/Crocodiles

This odd myth is based on the fact that crocs and gators, with their long, low-lying bodies and stubby legs, are bad at turning quickly. Well, that observation is correct at least - they aren’t great at changing directions while running. But you still shouldn’t make your escape in a zigzag formation, because it’s wildly unnecessary. While they can move quite quickly on land, they can’t do it for very long. Both species typically rely on lightning fast strikes from a stationary position and rarely pursue any great distance on land. So if one of these two giant reptiles is coming for you, just run as fast and as straight as you can to put maximum distance between you and them.

#1: Suck The Poison Out of a Snakebite


Television and film have rarely been so guilty in perpetuating such a ridiculously dangerous myth. If a poisonous snake has successfully sunk it’s teeth into your flesh or the flesh of someone nearby, chances are that the venom has already hit the bloodstream. According to a 2002 study from the New England Journal of Medicine, sucking on the wound will not recover any of it. Unsurprisingly, snake bite venom extractor products are equally ineffective. What’s perhaps most frustrating about this myth is that believing it could make a bad situation worse. The mouth introduces bacteria, and the suction could further damage the punctured skin. The person sucking may poison themselves, if anything. The actual solution? Get medical help asap!
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