What are the 10 most venomous animals in the world? Can you give me a answer? To answer the question, let’s first define “most venomous.” After all, some folks may calculate venomosity using a potency-versus-size calculation; others may focus on victim statistics across the animal kingdom. However, for our purposes, “most venomous” means “venomous animals most dangerous to humans or any other animals”
One more thing to define is the difference between “venomous” and “poisonous.” Venomous species actively inject toxic serums. Conversely, poisonous animals passively disperse toxins. For example, if eaten, puffer fish can prove deadly to humans because Homo sapiens are lethally allergic to the fish’s flesh. However, puffer fish don’t inject toxic liquids into humans as a defense mechanism, so they’re not venomous.
Now that we’ve surveyed the landscape, let’s explore the 10 most venomous animals in the world that Mother Nature has packed with dangerous loads for their personal protection.
The 10 Most Venomous Animals
- Funnel-Web Spider
- Box Jellyfish
- Saw-Scaled Viper
- Harvester Ant
- Inland Taipan Snake
- Indian Red Scorpion
- Cone Snail
- Mexican Beaded Lizard
Image from “livescience”
Funnel-web spiders are spiders that build funnel-shaped webs, which they use as burrows or to trap prey. Three distinct spider families are known popularly as funnel-web spiders, but they are all quite different. Some species are among the most deadly spiders in the world, while others are not harmful to humans.
These spiders get their name because, generally, their webs have a flat surface for capturing prey and a small funnel-like tube leading to a silken burrow in which the spider hides, according to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM). The spider waits in the funnel for prey to fall onto the horizontal web, and then it rushes out, grabs the prey, and takes it back to the funnel to consume.
Agelenidae spiders, also called funnel weavers, live throughout the world. According to the Encyclopedia of Life(EOL), there are nearly 1,200 species of agelenids worldwide; about 100 of them are found in North America. “This family includes the grass spiders [genus Agelenopsis],” said entomologist Christy Bills, invertebrate collections manager at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Other genera of funnel weavers include Tegenaria (barn funnel weavers) and Eratigena (hobo spider), which are native to Europe.
Agelenid spiders build funnel-shaped webs between two braces, such as branches or grass blades. In general, their bites are not harmful to humans. One possible exception is the hobo spider. According to the EOL, this species has gained a reputation for being dangerous to humans, but several studies have found little evidence to support the claim.
Agelenids are medium-sized for arachnids — about 4 to 20 millimeters long (up to three-quarters of an inch). According to the University of Michigan’s BioKids, these species are usually grey or brown, with spots on their backs and banded legs. “They have eight eyes,” Bills said, arranged in two rows.
Like most species of spiders, funnel weavers are nocturnal. They are known to flee from light and “many are very fast runners,” Bills said.
According to BioKids, they typically live for less than a year, dying in the cold weather. In warmer places, they can live for two years. Males spend most of their time wandering in search of a mate, though they usually die after they mate a few times. Females rarely leave their webs. They typically lay several egg sacs and cover them in webbing for protection. Agelenids lay eggs in the fall, and the spiderlings hatch in the spring. Dead female spiders are often found clinging to the egg sac, according to Herbert Levi and his co-authors in “Spiders and Their Kin” (St. Martin’s Press, 2001).
Residents of grassy areas will recognize the funnel webs scattered in the grass during the summer and early fall. According to Iowa State University’s BugGuide.net, webs are also often seen in the corners of porches or in the cracks of shingles (anywhere there is a crevice for them to build a funnel web inside).
These spiders typically eat insects, though they have been known to eat other spiders.
Image from “nationalgeographic”
They may not look dangerous, but the sting from a box jellyfish could be enough to send you to Davy Jones’s locker-a watery grave, that is.
Box jellyfish, named for their body shape, have tentacles covered in biological booby traps known as nematocysts – tiny darts loaded with poison. People and animals unfortunate enough to be injected with this poison may experience paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death, all within a few minutes of being stung. But don’t choose the mountains over the ocean just yet. Of the 50 or so species of box jellyfish, also called sea wasps, only a few have venom that can be lethal to humans.
While box jellyfish are found in warm coastal waters around the world, the lethal varieties are found primarily in the Indo-Pacific region and northern Australia. This includes the Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri), considered the most venomous marine animal. Chironex fleckeri is the largest of the box jellyfish, with body sizes reaching up to one foot in diameter and thick, bootlace-like tentacles up to 10 feet long.
Box jellyfish have traits that set them apart from other jellyfish. Most notably, box jellyfish can swim—at maximum speeds approaching four knots—whereas most species of jellyfish float wherever the current takes them, with little control over their direction. Box jellyfish can also see. They have clusters of eyes on each side of the box. Some of these eyes are surprisingly sophisticated, with a lens and cornea, an iris that can contract in bright light, and a retina.
Their speed and vision leads some researchers to believe that box jellyfish actively hunt their prey, mainly shrimp and small fish
Image from “wikipedia”
Saw-scaled viper, (genus Echis), any of eight species of small venomous snakes (family Viperidae) that inhabit arid regions and dry savannas north of the Equator across Africa, Arabia, and southwestern Asia to India and Sri Lanka. They are characterized by a stout body with a pear-shaped head that is distinct from the neck, vertically elliptical pupils, rough and strongly keeled scales, and a short thin tail. On both sides of the body are several rows of obliquely arranged serrated scales. Adults range in length from 0.3 to 0.9 metre (1 to 3 feet). Echis coloration includes various shades of brown, gray, or orange with darker dorsal blotches and lateral spots.
Saw-scaled vipers move by sidewinding locomotion (see sidewinders). They are nocturnal, coming out at twilight to hunt for food, which includes mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, amphibians, and invertebrates such as scorpions and centipedes. Egg-laying species, producing up to 23 eggs per female, reside in northern Africa, whereas live-bearing species, such as E. carinatus, inhabit the Middle East and southern Asia.
Saw-scaled vipers are small, but their irritability, aggressive nature, and lethal venom make them very dangerous. When alarmed, saw-scaled vipers will move slowly with the body looped into S-shaped folds. The oblique scales are rubbed against each other to produce a hissing sound, which is a defensive alarm used to warn potential predators. These snakes are, however, quick to strike, and mortality rates for those bitten are high. In the regions where they occur, it is believed that saw-scaled vipers are responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined.
Image from “sciencenew”
As their common name implies, these ants regularly include seeds as part of their diet. In addition, Pogonomyrmex workers scavenge for dead arthropods. Although there are a number of genera in the subfamilies Ponerinae, Myrmicinae, and Formicinae that compose the harvester ants, only Pogonomyrmex spp. are of concern as a stinging threat in North America as well as in Central and South America. Seven species of Pogonomyrmex in North America might constitute a stinging hazard (Cole, 1968; Taber, 1998). The more common ones are the western harvester ant (P. occidentalis), the red harvester ant (P. barbatus), the California harvester ant (P. californicus), and the Florida harvester ant (P. badius).
Pogonomyrmex workers are large, up to 10 mm in length. Most are light red or brown, although the gaster of some species may be dark brown to black. These ants are identified by the presence of a psammophore, a fringe of hairs on the underside of the head. These “beards” are used in excavating nests, pushing material from the nest much like the blade of a bulldozer. Harvester ants usually move slowly unlike the fire ants. Dense concentrations of colonies are common in the western United States, where most North American species occur.
Harvester ants construct their nests in dry, sandy to hard soils. The entrance to the nest is often marked by a crater or a cone in the center of a slight mound, usually surrounded by a pile of small stones (Fig. 22.10). Some species in hot deserts lack a mound. The nest can be 1–10 m in diameter with tunnels extending down to 5 m or more. The area around the nest is usually completely devoid of vegetation. Colonies of some species have up to 10,000 workers. Individual colonies often survive for 14–50 years, reaching maximum densities of 80 or more nests per hectare. Foraging trails from individual nests may extend out 60 m. Where nest densities are high, large expanses of ground may have little vegetation.
Because of the habit of harvesting seeds and reducing vegetation, they can damage rangeland used for cattle grazing and sometimes become significant pests locally (MacKay, 1990). At the same time they are beneficial in aerating the soil, providing enrichment, and promoting new plants sprouting from discarded seeds. Nests invariably occur in sunny locations, and if nests become shaded by vegetation or human activity, the ants generally move.
Inland Taipan Snake
Image from “wikipedia”
The Inland Taipan does share similarities with several other large elapids, and was originally described by McCoy in 1879 as belonging to the brown snake genus (as Diemenia (now Pseudonaja) microlepidota). Within its range the Fierce Snake may be confused with several of the brown snake species, including the Western Brown Snake Pseudonaja nuchalis, and the Eastern Brown Snake Pseudonaja textilis.
Average size 2m (total length). There is no significant difference in mean snout-vent length between males and females. The largest Fierce Snake reliably measured and reported in the literature was a female with a snout-vent length of 170cm. The largest total length recorded is 250cm.
Often cited as the world’s most venomous snake, the Inland Taipan is far from the most dangerous. Unlike its congener, the common and fiery-tempered Coastal Taipan, this shy serpent is relatively placid and rarely encountered in its remote, semi-arid homeland.
A medium to large snake, with a robust build and a deep, rectangular-shaped head. Dorsal colour varies from pale fawn to yellowish-brown to dark brown, with the head and neck being several to many shades darker than the body. Colour changes seasonally, with individuals becoming darker in winter and fading in summer. Many dorsal scales have a blackish-brown lower anterior edge which creates a broken herringbone pattern along the length of the body. The ventral surface is yellowish with orange blotches; this colour often extends to the lowermost lateral scales. Eyes are large, with a very dark iris and round pupil.
Midbody scales in 23 rows, ventrals 211-250, anal scale single, subcaudals divided.
Inland Taipans are associated with the deep cracking-clays and cracking-loams of the floodplains, however they also venture onto nearby gibber plains, dunes and rocky outcrops if cover is available. The vegetation in these areas is usually sparse, consisting of chenopod shrubs, lignum and the occasional eucalypt near the water channels.
The snakes shelter in soil cracks and crevices, and in holes and mammal burrows.
The species occurs in the Channel country of south-western Queensland and north-eastern South Australia. There are two old records for localities further south-east, i.e., the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers in northwestern Victoria (1879) and “Fort Bourke” (= Bourke?), New South Wales (1882); however the species has not been collected in either state since then
Indian Red Scorpion
Image from “thoughtco”
The Indian red scorpion (Hottentotta tumulus) is one of the most dangerous species of scorpions known to man. It is quite common in India, Pakistan and Nepal. This scorpion earned itself the Indian red scorpion moniker due to its often orange-red body.
Like most other scorpions, reds are nocturnal arachnids. They usually prey on insects, spiders and even on smaller scorpion varieties. They detect their prey by sensing vibrations in the air and in the earth. This is done through the use of special organs and an array of fine sensory hairs. They often wander at night searching for prey but will seek shelter in the morning.
Red scorpions share many typical characteristics with other species of scorpions, especially the large pair of pincher-like pedipalps, which they use to hold prey to keep them still.
When hunting or whenever it feels pressed or cornered, a red scorpion will use its stinger to protect itself or to incapacitate its prey. A person who gets stung by a red scorpion can actually die if not treated; these scorpions are known to carry a very potent neurotoxin that contains a mix of salts, small molecules, peptides and proteins.
Its venom contains neurotoxins that can be especially deadly to children, since their bodies are small. This venom can cause very serious effects on the human heart. It can also cause hypertension in humans, which can be deadly when combined with cardiac failure or irregularity. The result is the aforementioned effects, as well as losing the ability to breathe due to paralysis of the lungs. According to research studies, this venom has been found to interfere with the normal operation of muscles, particularly those that need regular and uninterrupted orders (i.e., cardiac muscles, diaphragm, etc.) from the central nervous system in order for them to function.
A sting by the red scorpion can be very painful at the onset. Other immediate symptoms of the red scorpion poisoning include vomiting and nausea, palpitation and excessive production of saliva.
Image from “surfertoday”
Stonefish are masters of camouflage and can blend in so perfectly with their surroundings that their prey, predators, and even human SCUBA divers have trouble seeing them at all. They almost always sit perfectly still, on the sea floor, in their preferred habitat of coral and rocky reefs, and their colors are often a perfect match for the substrate. Some individuals have even been observed with algae growing on them. While this camouflage gives them further protection from predators, its primary purpose is to allow stonefish to ambush their prey. They eat other reef fishes and some bottom dwelling invertebrates, but they do not actively pursue these animals.
Instead, they wait for dinner to come to them. Waiting for hours at a time, stonefish strike when their potential prey is less than their body length away. Their powerful jaws and large mouths create so much pressure that they are easily able to suck down their unsuspecting prey and swallow it whole.
Stonefish are only rarely eaten by people, and there is not a targeted fishery for this species, though individuals are sometimes caught for the private aquarium trade. Population trends are not currently known, but there is no evidence to suggest that human activity threatens the stonefish. However, as human activity does continue to threaten their habitat (coral reefs), it is important for scientists to continue to research this and other species, to ensure that populations are in fact stable.
Image from “dan”
A cone snail has a cone-shaped shell, a fleshy foot, a head, and tentacles. Cone snails live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean and Red Seas, and along the coast of Florida. They are not aggressive. The sting usually occurs when divers in deep reef waters handle the snails. Swimmers and snorkelers are unlikely to find cone snails in shallow intertidal waters. Their empty shells are prized items on sandy beaches.
Cone snail shells range in size from less than an inch to 9 inches long. The snail unwinds itself in the shell and comes out the opening. Much like a harpoon, a sharp venomous stinger stabs the snail’s prey. Cone snails hunt worms and other snails. A few varieties of cone snails eat fish, and these are the most harmful to humans.
Avoid contact with these animals. The animal’s harpoon can penetrate gloves. The toxin is similar to the paralytic toxin of the pufferfish and blue-ringed octopus.
Mexican Beaded Lizard
Image from “wikipedia”
This lizard shares many characteristics with its close relative, the more famous Gila monster. These are the only two surviving members of an ancient group of lizards—and the world’s only dangerously venomous lizards. Unlike venomous snakes, which have specially adapted fangs to inject venom, these lizards use a chewing motion to work the venom that flows from grooves in their teeth into their victim. This requires the lizard to hold onto the victim to maximize the amount of venom in the wound. Beaded lizards have a very strong bite. Once their jaws fasten onto a predator, it is difficult to break the hold. Venom is used mainly as a defense. Before biting, the lizard will back away, display an intimidating warning gape, and hiss. Predators include coyotes and birds of prey. Mexican beaded lizards rarely bite humans and generally do so only when they feel threatened.
Mexican beaded lizards make their homes in abandoned mammal burrows, under rocks, or in tunnels they dig. They may spend 95 percent of their time underground. Active primarily at dusk and after dark, they use their forked tongues and sensory cells in their noses to locate prey. Beaded lizards play a crucial role in ecology by helping to control the population of rodents, insects, and other desert animals.
These reptiles are found in the thorn scrub and deciduous forests of the western coast of Mexico continuing south to Guatemala.
These carnivores eat eggs, young birds, insects, frogs, lizards, and rodents. They are able to metabolize fat stored in their tails when food is scarce. Unlike other lizards, if they lose their tail it does not regrow.
This lizard’s total length is about 13 to 18 inches, with the tail making up nearly half that length. They can weigh up to 6 pounds. Lifespan ranges from 20-40 years.
Image from “critter.science”
Platypus, (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), also called duckbill, a small amphibious Australian mammal noted for its odd combination of primitive features and special adaptations, especially the flat, almost comical bill that early observers thought was that of a duck sewn onto the body of a mammal. Adding to its distinctive appearance are conspicuous white patches of fur under the eyes. The fur on the rest of the body is dark to light brown above, with lighter fur on the underside.
The platypus is common in waterways of eastern Australia, where it generally feeds on bottom-dwelling invertebrates but also takes an occasional frog, fish, or insect at the water’s surface. This shy creature forages most actively from dusk to dawn, sheltering during the day in burrows dug into stream banks. It is exquisitely adapted for its aquatic lifestyle, having a flattened torpedo-like body, dense waterproof fur, and strong front limbs used for swimming as well as digging. Even the head is streamlined, each ear being housed in a groove together with a small eye.
The senses of sight, smell, and hearing are essentially shut down while the platypus is submerged to feed, but it possesses a unique electromechanical system of electroreceptors and touch receptors that allow it to navigate perfectly underwater. Similar electroreceptors are also present in echidnas, which, together with the platypus, make up the mammalian order Monotremata, a unique group with an exceptionally ancient history.