When you think of poisonous animals, what springs to mind? Spiders? Scorpions? Snakes? Jellyfish? Most of the world’s most poisonous animals are either reptiles, arachnids, or undersea inhabitants.
Here is a rundown of the top 10 most poisonous animals in the world, counting down to the winner.
10. Puffer Fish
Puffer fish may be cute, but they are also quite dangerous. Most puffer fish swim in the waters surrounding Japan, China, and the Philippines, as well as Mexico. Puffer fish, despite being venomous, are also edible when prepared properly following food safety measures. Being as preparing the dish incorrectly can lead to food poisoning and consequent death, properly prepared dishes are considered a delicacy, and can sell for quite a bit of money. Expect to pay as much as $200 to try a dish!
The puffer fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, and gonads all contain a toxin known as tetrodoxin. If you are so unfortunate as to consume this toxin, you will experience a tingling sensation, burning in your mouth, nausea, headache, and speech and coordination problems. If you ingest too much, you will experience convulsions, paralysis, cardiac arrhythmia, and ultimately death.
9. Poison Dart Frog
Another deceptively cute animal, the poison dart frog is small and brightly patterned. Typically it lives in South and Central America or Hawaii. The poison the dart frog’s glands contain is called batrachotoxin. This toxin blocks nerve signals to muscles, causing paralysis and death.
8. Inland Taipan
Many snakes are poisonous, but the inland taipan is among the most deadly on the planet. The inland taipan lives in Australia and has a neurotoxin in its venom which is capable of killing a person within 45 minutes. Thankfully, the inland taipan’s bite can readily be treated. Amazingly enough, there are no reported deaths caused by this snake.
7. Brazilian Wandering Spider
This spider is also known as a “banana spider.” It is regularly confused with the golden silk orb-weaver, because that species of spider has bright yellow coloration and is also often colloquially (and incorrectly) referred to as a “banana spider.” Golden orb spiders are relatively harmless, despite their frightening appearance. Brazilian wandering spiders on the other hand are decidedly not. They were rated as the most venomous animal on the planet by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007. The high dosage of serotonin in the Brazilian wandering spider’s venom is extremely painful. The neurotoxins present can cause paralysis and death.
Divers should be wary of this venomous fish, which disguises itself with its camouflaged appearance and can easily blend in with rocks on the seabed. Usually the stonefish is found lurking above the Tropic of Capricorn. The spines on the fish’s back carry a toxin that can cause swelling, necrosis of tissue, paralysis, shock, and ultimately death. While the toxin is treatable, treatment must take place immediately. Being as that is generally challenging or impossible when one takes in a toxin while swimming along the ocean floor, the stonefish is quite deadly. If possible, the victim should immerse the wound site in hot water while traveling to the nearest hospital.
5. Death Stalker Scorpion
This scorpion is pale yellow in color and translucent in appearance and usually found in the Middle East and North Africa. While it may look delicate and ephemeral, the threat posed by this scorpion is quite substantial. Venom from a death stalker scorpion can cause a good deal of pain as well as respiratory failure. Those with heart problems or allergies are particularly likely to die from a sting.
4. Blue-Ringed Octopus
This tiny octopus is about the size of a golf ball, and could easily sit in the palm of your hand. Nonetheless, you definitely wouldn’t want it to, since it is quite nearly the most venomous animal in the sea. Blue-ringed octopi make their homes around Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua, New Guinea. The venom from this animal can cause blindness, nausea, paralysis and respiratory failure, as well as death.
3. Marbled Cone Snail
This cone-shaped snail shell contains a creature which can deliver one seriously dangerous venom. Mild symptoms may include pain, inflammation, numbness, and tingling. If you get a high dose of venom, you will experience vision loss, respiratory failure, and muscle paralysis—and eventually death. There is no anti-venom available, so there is no way to treat the victim. Because of this, the marbled cone snail as rated as one of the most dangerous animals in the world.
2. King Cobra
Cobras have a reputation for deadliness, and for good reason. They are typically found in the jungles of India and China. They are recognizable by their wide hoods, and are able to spit their toxins. The toxin is immensely painful, and once it enters the blood stream, it can cause death within a very short time. Seven ml of venom from this animal is enough to kill an elephant—or twenty human beings.
1. Box Jellyfish
This jellyfish is widely regarded as the most poisonous animal in the world. It floats in the waters surrounding Asia and Australia, and is so transparent that it is nearly invisible if you are not looking for it. The tentacles of the box jellyfish produce nematocysts. Once the toxin reaches the blood, blood pressure increases. This can lead to a heart attack, and ultimately death. If stung by one of these jellyfish, do not apply ice or heat. If you have some vinegar, try soaking the wound site for half an hour while you drive to the nearest hospital for aid.
Some of these animals are easy to avoid while others may pose more of a challenge. But now that you are aware of what they look like and the kinds of dangers they pose to human life, you should be better equipped to steer around them in the wild. Thankfully there are antivenins available for many of these toxins, and prompt medical treatment can often save the life of a victim.