A quick glance at our glossary will tell you that venom is administered differently to poison even though they are both toxins and might actually end up harming you in the same way. Venomous creatures will bite you, sting you, or inject you with its toxins in order to cause you all manner of harm, including paralysis, stopping you breathing, mess up your blood and cell damage. Venomous creatures are predators and therefore have one purpose: to kill.
So, what kind of crazy animal would ever concoct a venom and then inject you with it? Well, where can I start, venomous animals are all around us every day in some shape or form with some having a nastier effect than others. Ever been stung by a wasp or a mosquito? Spiders, snakes, fish, ants!? These are all venomous creatures that will bite you with their fangs or poke you with their stingers or barbs.
Anyway, lets crack on and see who make our Top 10 of Most Venomous Animals!
At number 1 we have the Box Jellyfish from Northern Australia. The more venomous members of this species are also known as the ‘sea wasp’ and ‘marine stinger’, the Sea Wasp has got the world’s deadliest sting. Its flimsy tentacles are 3 meters long when they are hunting but retract when swimming around. Because the jellyfish are quite slow they need to stun and kill their prey as quickly as possible before they swim away or rip off the tentacles of the box jellyfish. This jelly fish is so venomous one animal can kill up to 60 adult humans. The sting attacks the nervous system and causes shock and heart failure. Luckily there is an anti-venom but most victims don’t receive it quick enough, and some poor buggers die before getting medical attention.
Weapon: Tentacles Location: Australia BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Extreme
In at number 2 is another sea dweller and rather unassuming little creature, the Cone Snail! Who would think of a snail as a deadly predator? One of the most venomous species alive relative to its size, this little critter roams around the sea floor of the Indo-Pacific ocean on the lookout for a hearty meal. When a little fish swims past Mr. Conus fires a deadly harpoon laced with poison that stuns the fish instantly so lunch doesn’t get too far away. No anti-venom exists so make sure you stay well away from these guys and don’t pick them up! Ironically the venom is being tested as a possible alternative to morphine and other pain killing drugs. Nature knows best!
Weapon: Harpoon Location: Indo-Pacific BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Extreme
In third place is a creature that you might have expected on the list sooner. The Inland Taipan Snake from Australia is more commonly known as the Fierce snake, and with all that venom inside him you might think he would live up to its name. The world’s most venomous land dweller is actually quite a shy and reclusive reptile that just uses its lethal fangs on small rodents. A fully grown adult is thought to contain enough venom to kill about 250,000 mice.
Weapon: Fangs Location: Australia BioToxin: Taipoxin Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Extreme
At number 4 we have an animal with possibly the most amazing name in the animal kingdom; the Deathstalker. It’s a killer scorpion that only grows to about 10cm in length and is found in the deserts of the Middle East. It goes by many local names, one of them being the Yellow Palestine scorpion due to its yellowish colour. These guys prey on insects, snakes, rodents and other scorpions. The Deathstalker is quite a small arachnid with small pincers, but then again with a sting releasing venom like this chap it doesn’t need powerful claws!
Weapon: Stinger Location: Middle-East and North Africa BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Severe
In fifth position is the Stone Fish, the most venomous fish on the planet. If it pierces your skin with the barbs on its back you could be dead in under two hours. Perfectly camouflaged in the shallow water amongst the rocks and coral off the Eastern Australian coast you have to be careful not to step on this juicy fish, in fact normally you won’t notice until it’s too late. This guy feeds on shrimps and small fish and uses the 13 spines on its fin more as self defense, sticking them up when a shark or stingray tries to gobble him up.
Weapon: Spine Barbs Location: Indo-Pacific Oceans BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Severe
Back on land again with a mean looking creepy crawly creature at number 6 on the list. The most venomous Spider in the world you don’t ever want to come across is the Brazilian Wandering Spider. Found in Brazil amongst the banana plantations it is often referred to as the Armed Spider, it is extremely aggressive and actually lets out a hissing sound and raises its front legs to expose its fangs ready for battle. Its black belly then sways from side to side to distract the prey or attacker. These scary spiders don’t hang about in webs but wander around the forest floors of Central and South American forests where it is hot and temperate.
Weapon: Fangs Location: South America specifically Brazil BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Severe
Number 7 goes to another unlikely sea creature; the Greater Blue Ringed Octopus. This friendly fellow only grows to about 20cm across and is, despite its name, not always showing off its funky blue rings. Normally it is camouflaged quite cleverly among the corals and rock pools of the Pacific Ocean, it is a sandy brown colour with faint yellow rings, but when under threat or in attacking mode it lights up the blue rings and yellow patches which flash to scare away predators. Its highly toxic venom is secreted through glands near the mouth when it bites victims with its powerful beak. It normally reserves this toxic treat for small mollusks, crabs, shrimps and fish. But on occasion it has been known to feast on curious humans too, which is unlucky for them since there is no anti-venom!
Weapon: Beak, Saliva Location: Pacific Ocean BioToxin: Tetrodotoxin Neurotoxin Damage Rating: High
Eighth on the venomous list is reserved for probably the smallest venomous animal on earth and one of the most common; the Harvester Ant. These creepers are found in the South of the USA, particularly around Arizona and New Mexico. These ants have huge ant mounds around 2 meters deep and up to a meter above the ground which house colonies up to 10,000 strong. The bite of a Maricopa Harvester Ant is 20 times as powerful as a bee sting, that’s a lot of itching! Also unlike a bee these guys will repeatedly bite their prey and in doing so it lets off a chemical that attracts its friends who will also start biting. Ants are great team players and never hunt alone, if you see one there will be more close by.
Weapon: Mandibles (Pincers) Location: Southern USA BioToxin: Apitoxin Damage Rating: Extreme
The 9th place goes to a Mammal. The Solenodon is a very cute but crazy looking creature that is actually one of the most ancient mammal species on earth dating as far back as the dinosaurs! It looks like a cross between a mole, a rat and a shrew. Solenodons weigh around 1 kg and are about 55 cm from nose to tail, they are only found on the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba and are an extremely endangered species – two of it’s relatives are already extinct. The Solenodon secrets venom from glands running through its teeth. These guys are found in forests and mainly feed on worms, insects and small reptiles as well as fruit.
Weapon: Incisors (Teeth) Location: Hispaniola, Cuba BioToxin: Blarina Toxin Damage Rating: Mild
Last but not least, at number 10 on the list is another jellyfish. The Irukandji Jellyfish is a close relative of the Box jellyfish but some say it is even more deadly. Its body is only up to 2.5cm long including its tentacles! One species, the Malo Kingi, was named after one of its victims and has a body the size of a thumb nail but tentacles up to a meter long. These guys live in Australian waters and only eat tiny shrimp, tiny fish and algae. The sting from this crazy dude is so venomous that they have named a syndrome after it. People who get stung by the Irukandji jellyfish go into shock, muscles tense up, they feel a burning sensation on the skin and face, and severe internal pains result in an increased heart rate and extremely high blood pressure. At present there is no antivenom and a victim if seriously stung may only live 30 minutes if no medical assistance is provided.
Weapon: Tentacles and Bell Location: Australia BioToxin: Neurotoxin Damage Rating: Extreme
As well as the top 10 most venomous creatures there are many more that would merit being on this list and some would argue that they are more worthy. Here is the list that deserve an Honourable Mention:
A few more sea dwellers
Portuguese Man o’ War, Striped Pyjama Squid, Crown of Thorns Starfish, Belcher’s Seasnake, Beaked Seasnake
Cobras, Adders, Mambas, Vipers and Rattlesnakes
Funnel Web Spider, Wolf Spider, Black Widow and the Tarantula
Fat Tail Scorpion, Red Indian Scorpion, Emperor Scorpion and the Gormar Scorpion
Bullet Ant, Bees, Fire Ants and the Asian Hornet
Duck Billed Platypus, some Shrews and the European Mole. Slow Lorises, Skunks, Polecats and some others from the Mephitidae family give off noxious chemicals.