Survival Techniques for Animal Attack

Don't think you need survival techniques for animal attack? Every year over 100 people are attacked and killed by wild animals in the U.S. alone. If you want to avoid being the next victim, you need to learn some unusual and even dangerous survival techniques.

Surviving an animal attack has less to do with luck than being well-prepared. Study the area you’re traveling in and the animals that live there, before venturing out . If you’re wandering off the woods, having a detailed knowledge of the potentially harmful animals around first can make the difference between survival and death. If you do encounter a dangerous animal, keeping your cool is crucial to surviving an attack.

Survival Techniques for Bear Attack

  • Always carry bear spray every time you go hiking. In a study by the Brigham Young University, bear spray was 25 percent more effective than guns for deterring bear attack.

  • The downside to bear spray is that it is unreliable in high winds and it may actually incapacitate you as well. (Many bear sprays produce a “cloud” rather than a stream, which increases your chances of hitting the bear, but yourself as well. Know how your spray works before venturing out.)

  • To run or not to run? In most cases, running will only reinforce your role as the bear's prey. And, despite weighing hundreds of pounds, bears can achieve speeds of up to 35 mph. Simply, when you try to run away from a bear you will only die tired. The best thing that you can do is to stand your ground and look as menacing as possible; if the bear finds that you are not easy or typical prey, it may be frightened away.

More on avoiding bear attack HERE

Survival Techniques for Killer Bee Attack

  • Sprint in the direction you’re coming from. Africanized bees are aggressive and dangerous. Studies show that these killer bees follow an intruder that is within 200 yards from their hive. The swarming effect usually ends after 200 yards, so keep running as far and as fast as you can.

  • Resist the temptation of swatting. This will not only slow down your body, but may aggravate the bees even more. 

  • When you hear aggressive and loud buzzing, leave the area immediately.

Survival Techniques for Cougar Attack

  • Remain wary and vigilant. Cougars, like their namesake catamounts, mountain lions, pumas and panthers, are ambush predators and aren’t contented with just a fair fight. They will occasionally strike from above, so when traveling keep an eye on hills, cliffs and trees. 

  • Fight back if a cougar attacks you. Cougars are excellent climbers, so racing up a tree won’t get you anywhere. Stand tall then kick, punch, swing branches and throw rocks.  It’s a good idea is to wear a belt with a heavy metal buckle. You can use this as a makeshift slungshot (not to be confused with a slingshot) allowing you to attack the animal at a distance.

Survival Techniques for Alligator or Crocodile Attack

  • Crocodiles and alligators are not amphibians, but you can meet one whether you are in land or water. Crocodiles and alligators may seem cumbersome on land, but are still dangerous. However, in the water, they are deadly. Your only hope is to swim towards land as fast as possible. If caught, you’ll be plunged beneath the surface and thrown into a death roll in seconds. But if you’re lucky, you may have a chance to fight back. Use your fingers, assuming you still have any, to gouge its eyes, nostrils or even ears (they have ears, who knew?). A crocodile may release their prey when attacked in these parts.

  • Remember that alligator or crocodile jaws are only strong when they bite down. A last-ditch survival technique is to subdue the reptile by clamping its jaws shut, then securing them by winding tape, rope, a vine or a belt around them. This of course is only possible if the alligator or crocodile is relatively small in size or if you have a dozen judgement-impaired friends to help you.

Learn how to Wrestle an Alligator HERE!

Survival Techniques for Shark Attack

  • The best way to avoid a shark attack is to prevent it. Don’t swim at night, or near fishing areas. If you have an open wound, stay out of the water; sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away. When swimming, don’t splash or thrash around; sharks associate this behavior with an injured animal and are attracted to the prospect of an easy meal. Above all, if you see a shark, leave it alone.

  • If preventing an attack isn’t possible, defend yourself. When a shark is about to attack, back up against a rock wall or a reef to prevent the shark from attacking from behind. Swimming is not an option unless you have a huge head start to the shore or a boat. 

  • A common misconception about sharks is that you can fend off an attack by punching them in the nose. This technique is not only unreliable, it is actually very risky because if you miss your mark, your arm may go straight into the shark's mouth. Instead, attempt to ward off a shark by jabbing your fist into its eyes or its gills - these parts are more sensitive and are easier to hit than the nose.

Survival Techniques for Elephant Attack

  • In the unlikely event you come across a charging elephant, it is possible to stop it in its tracks with nothing more than a wave of your hand.  This technique works by tapping into the elephant’s fear of the unfamiliar.

  • If you’re not feeling quite that brave, and if you came to Asia or Africa prepared, elephants can be deterred by pepper spray. There have even been reports of elephants being subdued by playing sounds of killer bee swarms, but little substantiation exists. Plus, when was the last time you packed a P.A. with “Sounds of the Savannah” in your camping gear?

Survival Techniques for Lion Attack

  • Make loud noises, flap your arms and even charge at them. Since lions are predatory animals, they’re used to their prey fleeing. If you do the opposite, it can confuse/scare them into thinking twice. 

  • Use a flashlight. At least that’s what 11 year-old Richard Turere did. He took out the LED bulbs of old flashlights and placed multiple arrays around his family’s livestock enclosure in Kenya. He made them flash in succession to make it look like someone was patrolling the area, which lions have learned to avoid. Since then, they’ve never had a lion visit their ranch. 

  • Don’t climb a tree. While it is unusual for lions to climb, there are prides in Uganda and Tanzania that do it with surprising agility. 

Survival Techniques for Dog Attack

  • Stand your ground. Dogs like to chase, so simply standing there will give them pause. Do not turn or walk away until the dog does. Yelling at the dog will typically give it the extra push to retreat.
  • More aggressive dog attacks can be prevented by charging the animal. Most dogs will respond passively and retreat when confronted with a larger, aggressive (charging) threat.
  • Use pepper spray. With their heighted senses of smell, dogs are especially sensitive to irritants, particularly when sprayed in their nose and, of course, eyes.
  • For a dog that is attacking and latched on to you, punch and kick its face. If possible, aim for the sensitive nose area.
  • To remove a dog from someone else, straddle the dog, and pull up on the collar until it releases. You can improvise a collar with a belt if necessary.

Survival Techniques for Snake Attack

  • The vast majority of snakes would rather retreat than fight, so if you encounter a dangerous snake, slowly back away, giving it room to escape.

  • If the snake blocks your only escape route, hit it with a long branch or your belt. (It is wise to carry a long walking stick when venturing into the woods.) Often, it will quickly take the hint and retreat. But if not, you’ve got a tasty snake dinner to look forward to.

  • Strange Tip: Got a snake infestation? In Guam? Use Tylenol. Apparently, the acetaminophen in Tylenol can kill a brown tree snake, the likes of which have been plaguing Guam for years. The active ingredient prevents oxygen from being carried to their cells. Of course, getting the snakes to swallow the pills is easier said than done. Mix it up with some people food and make sure that the rats (your neighborhood snake’s favorite meal) eat it. Or pack dead rats full of the pills and hang them up on the trees, since that’s where these snakes can usually be found. 

    Or you could just move.

What should you do if bitten by a poisonous snake? Hint: It’s not what you think. READ MORE SNAKE ATTACK TIPS HERE

General Tips for Surviving Wild Animal Attack

Stand Your Ground

Predatory animals instinctually chase their prey and unless you’re Usain Bolt, you won’t out run your four-legged foe. In most situations, simply standing your ground or fighting back is your best option for survival. 

Use Fire

Odds are that if you’re out in the wilderness, you’re going to need to make a camp fire. While excellent for roasting formerly cuddly woodland mammals to culinary perfection, fire is also an effective predatory deterrent. Since cooked food will draw hungry freeloaders to your camp, you’ll need a way to defend it. Keeping one end of a baseball bat-sized log in the fire not only offers a handy club for swatting away a hungry puma, you can also burn the animal with it, providing two weapons in one.

Use the Weather

Wild animals don’t like going out in storms any more than we do. They are often more sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure that precede a storm and will seek shelter. While you’re choosing one risk over another (storms of course come with their own set of dangers) you can use this opportunity to travel through areas inhabited by dangerous animals in order to get to safety.

Do Not Feed the Animals

Never feed wild animals. It seems really obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. There are countless horror stories of entirely avoidable animal attacks, like that of a little boy who had his arm bitten off while trying to feed a bear in a Chinese zoo.  Or the toddler whose arm was bitten off by a bear because the child’s mother smeared her arm with honey, thinking the bear would lick it off, thus providing an adorable photo op.  Better be safe than sorry; don’t go looking for trouble.


Animal attacks are common, but often avoidable.  In the event you’re in danger of an animal attack, study these survival techniques to at least give yourself a fighting chance.

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