Every Time Steve Irwin Cheated Death

Steve Irwin will never be forgotten thanks to his fearless antics on "The Crocodile Hunter." The wildlife guru died in a freak accident in 2006 when an eight-foot-wide stingray stabbed him in his heart, per Biography. Steve died when the stingray, usually considered placid, struck him "hundreds" of times in mere seconds. However, Steve's legacy lives on through his wife Terri Irwin and his children, Bindi and Robert Irwin on their hit show "Crikey! It's the Irwins." They now run the Australia Zoo and carry on with the important conservation work that he started.

In fact, his son is so like him that they sported nearly identical carpet python bites. In a July 2020 Instagram post, Robert shared footage of how both he and his father were attacked by a non-venomous snake. Creepy? Well, Robert revealed (via The Courier-Mail), "It's in my blood, it's in my DNA, and it's in everything I do." It seems to be par for the course when you're an Irwin. 

In his brief 44 years on this planet, Steve had his fair share of deadly encounters. Let's look at some of the scariest moments of Steve Irwin's life, and try to figure out how he was still ballsy enough to pursue even more adventure.

Crikey! Steve's close call with a croc

Steve Irwin knew his way around a crocodile. Time and again, he proved himself more agile and cunning than the powerful beast with its deadly jaws. However, there was one close call when Irwin almost lost the battle with a crocodile, and he had to think on his feet to stay alive. As the pro himself said in a clip, "I've been very lucky. And that's about the closest shave I've ever had."

Irwin was filming "The Crocodile Hunter" and trying to show his audience how he was lassoing a croc named Graham. He lured the reptile out of the water, and as he tried to put a rope around its snout, the creature pounced. The croc acted so quickly as he grabbed Irwin's hand and dragged him into the water with him that "[his] backup couldn't do a thing about it." The crocodile's razor-sharp teeth went straight through Irwin's hand, and he showed off his bloody hand to the camera. Luckily, when they landed in the water, the croc let go, and Irwin managed to escape. 

While Irwin called the incident "a dangerous mistake [he'll] never make again," he, curiously, did not blame the reptile for nearly ending his life.

Graham, the crocodile, strikes again

If crocodiles have long memories, Graham certainly has one. During another incident, Graham went after Steve Irwin's best friend, zoo director Wes Mannion. According to an interview that Irwin gave to the local Australian news, the attack happened after a flood when he and Wes least expected it. They were trying to "clear debris out of the fence" forgetting that "crocs love floodwaters." They were working in an enclosure where Graham and his "girlfriend" Bindi lived, and the crocodile decided to defend his territory. The footage shows that it was dark when Graham attacked Mannion and the whole incident was over in a matter of seconds.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Mannion said, "We took our eyes off Graham for a bit too long, and he came up behind me in waist-deep water and just drilled me into the fence." He continued, "Luckily, he'd grabbed all meat, and when I twisted with all my might [the flesh] ripped clean out ... He was about to grab me on the head when Steve leapt on his tail and hung on." 

Irwin's quick, selfless action saved his friend's life but nearly also cost him his own. He jammed a stick into the creature's mouth before leaping onto the fence himself and away from danger. Both men were fortunate to walk away with their lives, although Mannion needed 150 stitches and spent 12 days in the hospital. #friendsforlife, right?

Steve Irwin picked up angry King Brown snake

A snake was slithering along in the bush when Terri and Steve Irwin hurtled along in their truck in their movie "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course." The modern-day St. Francis of Assisi made it his mission to jump out of the vehicle and rescue the reptile who was minding his own business in the bush. Steve immediately identified it as a King Brown snake, otherwise known as a Mulga snake according to the Australia Zoo, and caught it by its tail. Of course, the serpent was not impressed that a human had his hand on his posterior and hissed and lunged at its captor. While Steve talked a mile-a-minute about the impressively large reptile, Terri scrambled to find a snake bag for it. Steve wanted to remove the serpent and place it in an environment where it would be less likely to come into contact with cars.

At one point in the clip of Steve handling the King Brown, a notably stressed-out Steve said, "This snake species actually has the highest venom yield of any snake in Australia." Steve was all over the place as he tried to avoid getting bitten as the snake repeatedly aimed for his inner thighs, noting that "their venom is highly necrotic." Eventually, Terri found the bag and they placed the agitated reptile in it without any incident.

Steve Irwin bowed before an angry hippo

Steve Irwin was exploring the Luangwa River in Zambia when he came across one of the most feared animals on the African continent – hippos. According to Discover Wildlife, the hippopotamus is not only the second-largest land animal, but it is also the most dangerous. The aggressive beast is responsible for the deaths of about 500 people each year. So, it makes sense that when Irwin ran into a siege of hippos, he wisely proceeded with caution. In the episode "The Crocodile Hunter: Steve's Most Dangerous Adventures," he relayed the story about his close call with the animals. 

"I ran into some really angry hippos. In some countries of Africa, hippos are known to cause more human fatalities than any other species — even more so than Nile crocodiles. And by crikey, they get grumpy. They pushed me right out of the river," he revealed. In the clip, the seasoned animal-lover was rowing solo in a tiny canoe near the hippos. The dominant male and the sub-dominant boar were having a go at each other until the alpha suddenly switched focus and showed some aggression toward Irwin. He admitted, "I was quite fearful and respectful of them so I went around them. I left my canoe in the end."

Irwin stood up in the boat and declared, "Hey, I don't want anything to do with this, guys." He promptly steered the boat away. Better alive than be a hippo's tucker. 

Steve Irwin's face was 'caved' by a croc

Long before Steve Irwin became known for his fearless devil-may-care handling of dangerous animals, he was most known for wrangling crocodiles. The true blue Aussie stalked the reptilian predators, jumped onto them, and held on for dear life as he tried to subdue them or move them to safer territory. On the rare occasion that things went wrong for the Crocodile Hunter, they got bloody.

Like the time Irwin was filming "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course," and things got scary when a crocodile acted on its instincts. The reptile hurt Irwin, and he told the BBC that things got so bloody that the movie was "edited down so that kids could watch it." Irwin revealed, "My face got caved in by that female croc underwater." In fact, the damage was so bad he dished, "I had a cartilage operation in the middle of it all." 

Even a young Bindi Irwin, who at that time was surrounded by reptiles, "was intimidated by the croc stuff." Steve shared that Bindi had sat on his lap at the flick's premiere "just to keep in contact because she wasn't sure what was going to happen to me."

Steve Irwin was once face-to-face with the world's deadliest snake

One thing about Steve Irwin, he filled out his budgie smugglers proudly. The man had balls larger than any ostrich egg! Who can forget about the time he decided to get up-close-and-personal with the world's deadliest snake? Irwin once revealed to Scientific American that he had a special affinity for this particular kind of reptile. "Snakes are just very instinctive to me. I've been playing with snakes since before I could walk," he said. After all, Reptiles Magazine reports that Irwin was only four years old when he famously stepped on and caught a common brown snake, the second most venomous snake in the world.

Irwin also revealed, "It doesn't matter where or what it is, from the biggest to the most venomous." He certainly put his money where his mouth was when he dropped to the ground when he encountered a deadly 6 ft. Inland Taipan (via Real Moments). The snake was exploring a rat hole, and Irwin quietly lay on his stomach observing it. Pretty soon, the serpent sensed him and slithered toward him. Irwin pointed out, "As long as you give them plenty of distance, they aren't all that aggressive."

So, he moved closer. He put his face to the ground and lay quite still as Inland Taipan got face-to-face with the intruder. It licked him, paused, and then moved on. Talk about a close call, mate!

Steve Irwin led his crew to safety through croc-muddied river

It's one thing to put your own life in danger, it's entirely another to risk someone else's. The pressure was on when Steve Irwin was filming a show while exploring the banks of the Luangwa River in Zambia. The wildlife vet was meandering along a river when a dead carcass floated by. It was only a matter of time before it sparked a feeding frenzy among the crocodiles. Irwin got some incredible footage of the congregation of crocs in their natural habitat and was waxing lyrical until he realized that he may have bitten off more than he could chew.

See, Irwin and his crew needed to cross the river on foot. However, he also realized, "My job is to ensure that the camera crew gets out safely. We know there's at least a hundred crocodiles sitting in these waters." How would he ever be able to navigate them to safety? The reptiles had camouflaged themselves again in the shallow waters and Irwin couldn't accurately predict where they were hiding. Irwin took a direct approach and shared in the voiceover how he handled the situation. 

"So, I shout to the crew, 'Now, move now! Stay in the shallow water! Keep yourself between the logs and the water's edge!" he revealed. The crew walked in single file as they crossed the knee-deep murky waters, and followed his orders precisely. Thankfully, Irwin and his crew lived to tell the tale.

Steve Irwin wrangles a black mamba

Sometimes Steve Irwin went looking for an adventure. In an episode of "The Crocodile Hunter with Steve and Terri Irwin," the Aussie sauntered through the African bush. Suddenly, he spotted some quick movement and sprinted after the reptile — a black mamba. The thin, agile reptile was trying to get away from its human predator. However, it had evidently not yet learned of Irwin's prowess. Irwin was lightning-fast and quickly grabbed the 8-foot snake's tail. He quickly dragged it back into a clearing where the camera could have a better angle of the feared snake. 

However, the serpent was not in the mood for headshots and immediately turned on Irwin. A jerky dance ensued, with Irwin hopping from one leg to the other while trying to avoid the lunging reptile. All the while, Irwin kept up a monologue and educated his audience about the perils of being bitten while trying to escape the same fate himself. "This is the snake with the reputation," he said before adding, "This is one of the fastest, most aggressive species of snake on the face of the earth." 

The black mamba reared up and put on quite a display while trying to strike the snake handler. Where's the selfie stick now? However, when Irwin eventually let it go, it didn't even look back as it slithered away.

Terri Irwin panics when Steve meets a mother orangutan

World WildLife describes the bond between a mother orangutan and her offspring as "one of the strongest in nature." The apes raise their little ones until they are six or seven years old before they leave the nest. However, female orangutans will even "visit" their mothers until they are well into their teens. So, when Steve Irwin decided to encroach on a mother orangutan in her territory, Terri Irwin was understandably terrified for her spouse.

Terri told Scientific American about Steve's thought process when he visited the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. "The ranger who works with the orangutans always said, 'Do not go anywhere near the orangutans and their territory.'" However, Steve had other plans when he saw a mother orangutan and her baby and wanted to get a shot of her. Terri warned him, "If you climb up there, [the mother orangutan] will rip your head off. She's like eight times the strength of a man! She's got a baby. What are you, nuts?"

In the video clip, Steve waited patiently at the bottom of a tree. The mother orangutan was so trusting that she brought her baby to the conservationist, and they shared a tender moment. Terri continued, "The baby walks away, and [the mother] grabs the baby by the head or whatever and pulls it back over, 'No, you've gotta stay here.'" How's that for animal instincts?

Komodo dragon hunts Steve Irwin

In all fairness, Steve Irwin was just trying to help a Komodo dragon when it turned on him. In one episode of "The Crocodile Hunter," Irwin describes himself as a "knucklehead," claiming, "I can't believe I let myself walk straight in, into a potentially dangerous conflict with the largest lizard on earth." See, Irwin spotted a fishing hook and wire in the reptile's mouth, and he wanted to help him get it out. Unfortunately, the lizard didn't see it the same way and started to chase the wildlife icon when he "popped the bait out." 

The Komodo dragon went into full attack mode and came at him with his mouth wide open. Irwin had no choice but to climb up a tree with the monitor lizard at his heels. Perched high above the ground, the Aussie discovered that the Komodo dragon had nipped his leather boot, and its tooth had gone straight through his shoe and into his sock. That was one bite too close for comfort!