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12 Most Dangerous Animals in Tennessee

black bear on tree

Tennessee is home to a variety of animals, both harmless and dangerous. Among the most dangerous are rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. These snakes are all venomous, and their bites can be fatal. In addition to snakes, Tennessee is also home to black bears, coyotes, and wild hogs. While these animals are not typically aggressive, they can be dangerous if provoked. If you encounter any of these animals while hiking or camping in Tennessee, it is important to stay calm and avoid making sudden movements. If possible, slowly back away from the animal and give it a wide berth. 

Every year, millions of people come to appreciate the scenic beauty and experience the unique culture of the Smokies. However, what many visitors don’t realize is that the Smokies are also home to some of the deadliest wildlife in the country. Tennessee is ranked the fifth state out of all fifty American states where humans are most likely to be killed by an animal, and a large portion of those fatalities occur in the Smokies. Bears, coyotes, snakes, and spiders are just a few of the potentially dangerous animals that call the Smokies home. Below you will find the list of all the most dangerous animals in Tennessee.

Black widow spiders

most dangerous animals in tennessee

Black widow spiders are one of the most dangerous spiders in the world. Their venom is highly toxic and can cause serious health problems in humans, including muscle pain, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Black widow spiders are found in many parts of the world, including the southern United States. In Tennessee, black widows are most commonly found in dark, secluded areas such as basements, attics, and sheds.

If you come into contact with a black widow spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. While most people recover from black widow spider bites without any lasting effects, some people can experience more serious complications. In rare cases, black widow spider bites can even be fatal.

Brown Recluse Spiders

brown recluse spiders

Brown recluse spiders are dangerous to humans because their venom can cause necrosis, which is the death of tissues. The brown recluse spider is native to the southeastern United States, but it has been found in other states, including Tennessee. The brown recluse spider is a small spider with a dark brown body and a violin-shaped mark on its back. It is about the size of a quarter. The brown recluse spider is not aggressive and bites humans only when it feels threatened. 

However, the venom of the brown recluse spider can cause serious health problems, including necrosis, which is the death of tissues. The brown recluse spider is considered to be one of the most dangerous spiders in the United States because of its potent venom. If you are bitten by a brown recluse spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Black Bears

black bear

In Tennessee, black bears are a danger to humans. These large animals are attracted to human food and garbage, and they will sometimes tear open beehives or raid chicken coops in search of a meal. While black bears typically avoid contact with humans, they can become aggressive if they feel threatened or cornered. Also, female black bears with cubs are especially dangerous, as they will fight fiercely to protect their young. 

Therefore, it is important for people living in bear countries to take precautions to avoid attracting these animals to their property. One way to do this is to keep garbage securely locked up or stored in a bear-proof container. Also, bird feeders should be placed high off the ground where bears cannot reach them, and beehives should be located in an area that is not easily accessible to these animals. 



Tennessee is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including several species of Elk. Elk are large animals, similar in size to a deer, but with longer legs and larger bodies. The males also have antlers, which they use for fighting during the mating season. Elk are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of grasses and other plants. In Tennessee, Elk can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, they live amongst the dense forests and mountainous terrain. Elk are a popular sight for visitors to the park, and their presence helps to maintain the balance of the ecosystem.

Elk are large animals, and they can be dangerous to humans if they feel threatened. They have been known to attack people who come too close to their young or who try to eat them. Also, elk can carry diseases that can be harmful to humans, such as bovine tuberculosis. While there are no confirmed cases of the elk-related disease in Tennessee, it is still important to be cautious around these animals. 

Wild Boar

wild boar

Wild boars are large, feral pigs that can be found in many parts of the world, including Tennessee. These animals are often considered to be dangerous because they can attack humans and spread diseases. Wild boars are known to carry a variety of diseases, including rabies, swine flu, and foot-and-mouth disease. They can also cause significant damage to crops and property. In addition, wild boars are very aggressive when they feel threatened, and they have been known to attack humans. While they are not typically considered to be a threat to human life, wild boar attacks can be deadly.

Copperhead Snakes

copperhead snakes

The Copperhead snake is a venomous pit viper native to the eastern United States. It is one of the most feared snakes in the region, as its bite can be very painful and sometimes fatal. In Tennessee, Copperhead sightings are becoming more and more common, particularly in rural areas. The snake is most active in the spring and summer months when it comes out to hunt for food.

However, it is important to be aware that Copperheads can also be found in urban areas, where they often take refuge in gardens and yards. If you spot a Copperhead snake, it is best to leave it alone and contact a trained professional for assistance. Although these snakes are not typically aggressive, they will attack if they feel threatened. Thus, it is important to be cautious around Copperheads and to avoid handling them without proper protection.

Timber Rattlesnakes

timber rattlesnakes

Timber Rattlesnakes are found in many parts of the United States, including Tennessee. These snakes are highly venomous, and their bites can be fatal to humans. Timber Rattlesnakes are large snakes, averaging about three to five feet in length. They are usually brown or grey in colour, with dark crossbands on their bodies. These snakes get their name from the rattle at the end of their tails, which they shake when they feel threatened. Timber Rattlesnakes are shy snakes that prefer to avoid contact with humans. However, they will bite if they feel threatened or if they are accidentally stepped on. If you are bitten by a Timber Rattlesnake, it is important to seek medical help immediately and stay calm.

Pygmy rattlesnakes

pygmy rattlesnakes

The pygmy rattlesnake is a small but dangerous reptile found in parts of the southeastern United States, including Tennessee. These snakes are highly venomous, and their bites can be fatal to humans if not treated promptly. Pygmy rattlesnakes are relatively small snakes, averaging about 2 feet in length. They are brown or grey in colour, with dark crossbands on their bodies. These snakes get their name from the small rattle at the tip of their tails, which they use to warn predators of their presence.

Pygmy rattlesnakes are most active during the day and often sun themselves on rocks or logs. When threatened, they will coil up and shake their tails to warn potential predators to stay away. Although they are not aggressive snakes, they will bite if they feel threatened or cornered. These bites can be very dangerous, as they injected a large amount of venom into their victim. Symptoms of a pygmy rattlesnake bite include intense pain, swelling, nausea, and vomiting. If left untreated, a pygmy rattlesnake bite can be fatal. 



Cottonmouths are a type of venomous snake found in the southeastern United States, and Tennessee is home to more than its fair share of these dangerous reptiles. Also known as water moccasins, cottonmouths get their name from the white lining of their mouths, which they display when feeling threatened. These snakes typically grow to be around three feet long, but some individuals can reach lengths of up to six feet.

Though they are not considered to be aggressive snakes, cottonmouths will not hesitate to strike if they feel threatened or cornered. Their venom is extremely powerful and can cause serious illness or even death in humans. Fortunately, antivenin is available and effective in treating cottonmouth bites. 



Skunks are a type of mammal that is found in North and South America. One of the most recognizable features of a skunk is the two stripes that run down its back. Skunks are also known for their ability to spray a foul-smelling liquid when they feel threatened. In Tennessee, skunks are considered to be one of the most dangerous animals to humans. This is because skunks can carry a number of diseases, including rabies. Skunks can also be aggressive, and their bites can be extremely painful. If you see a skunk, it is important to keep your distance and contact a professional if you need to remove one from your property.



Ticks are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. Though they are most commonly found in wooded or grassy areas, ticks can also live in urban environments. In Tennessee, ticks are a particularly serious problem due to the prevalence of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, headaches, and fatigue. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to serious health complications, including joint pain, paralysis, and heart problems.

Ticks are also capable of transmitting other diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Therefore, it is important for Tennesseans to take precautions against ticks when spending time outdoors. Wearing long pants and sleeves, using insect repellent, and performing regular tick checks can help reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick.



Catfish are a common sight in Tennessee waterways, and many people enjoy fishing for them. However, some types of catfish can be dangerous to humans. One such species is the flathead catfish, which can grow to be over six feet long and weigh over one hundred pounds. Flathead catfish are aggressive predators, and they have been known to attack swimmers and even small boats. Another dangerous type of catfish is the bullhead catfish.

Although smaller than the flathead, bullhead catfish can still reach lengths of over two feet. They are also aggressive, and their venomous barbs can cause serious wounds. Also, both flathead and bullhead catfish are known to carry diseases that can be passed on to humans, making them a significant health hazard.


Are there wolves in Tennessee?

Tennessee has no wolves, officially. These animals are often mistaken for coyotes or domestic dogs. Formerly, wolves lived in the Smoky Mountains.

Do black panthers live in Tennessee?

The phrase “black panther” is used to describe any melanistic member of the cat family. Unfortunately, the Volunteer State is not home to any black panthers. The black bobcat population in Florida is the only known population of this species in the United States. Apart from the tamed feline which can be found everywhere. The black jaguar of Central and South America and the black leopard of Africa and Asia are the two well-known types of black panthers.

Do mountain lions live in Tennessee?

Although still present in Tennessee, mountain lions have diminished. Cats can infect them. Mountain lions are seen in the Smoky Mountains up to 10 times a year, but opponents of their reintroduction to Tennessee say they’re extinct.

Cougars, pumas, and panthers are the same animal. Their bushy tails can reach 30 inches and their tan bodies 90 cm. Five feet long (without the tail). The cheetah is the fastest terrestrial mammal, but mountain lions may exceed 50 mph.

Are there grizzly bears in Tennessee?

Given that only black bears are known to inhabit this state, it is fair to assume that no grizzly bears are present. Although they share a family tree with black bears, brown bears are much bigger and gruffer. In the event of an encounter with a bear, a black bear is preferable to a grizzly. In comparison to its somewhat smaller sibling, the grizzly bear is more likely to kill a human because of its short fuse. You won’t locate any of the most hazardous creatures in North America in the Smoky Mountains or anywhere else in Tennessee.

Final Words

There are a variety of dangerous animals that call Tennessee home. Some of the most dangerous include snakes, alligators, and bears. While these animals can be dangerous, it is important to remember that they are also an important part of the state’s ecosystem. With proper caution and respect, humans and animals can coexist safely in Tennessee.



Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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