Encounters with lions, tigers and bears often incite a rush of adrenaline-pumping fear into our hearts, but don’t overlook nature’s seemingly more gentle inhabitants.

Fuzzy caterpillars, garden plants and even the most endearing of primates, the wee slow loris, are all capable of dispatching death blows to the brawniest of humans.

And now, you can add the cute and industrious beaver to the list.  

A man on a fishing trip in Belarus with two friends spotted a beaver on the side of a road and stopped to snap a picture of the semi-aquatic rodent. It's a scene reminiscent of a David Lynch movie. As the man neared the animal, it pounced and attacked him, sinking its exuberant teeth into the flesh of his thigh.

His friends tried to stop the flow of blood from the wound, but the beaver’s bite had severed a main artery and the man bled to death.

Beaver attacks on humans are rare, but they are known to happen when people approach rabid beavers; attacks by non-rabid beavers can occur as well.

In the past few years, four people have been attacked by rabid beavers in Pennsylvania. And reports of beaver attacks have come from New York, Washington and Virginia. In the video below posted last week to YouTube, a beaver attacks a Russian man in a scene worthy of "The Blair Witch Project."

The bottom line is that beavers are wild animals; if you don't want a beaver to maul you, stay away from them. Also worth noting: They really don't seem to like cameras.

Related story on MNN: 5 reasons why you shouldn't raise wild animals as pets