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Top 10 most poisonous animals in the world!

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  • The genus Echis is a venomous family of serpentine vipers that hold the world record for the most human snakebite deaths. In its native areas of Pakistan, Africa, India, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East, the genus is responsible for more deaths than snakes from all other regions combined.
  • Native to Australia, the inland taipan is actually the world's most venomous snake, with enough venom to kill 100 people. But because it avoids people and is nocturnal, it is rarely encountered.
  • The platypus is the most venomous mammal, capable of injecting venom from spines in its legs, enough to kill a cat or dog, but not a human.

What are the 10 most poisonous animals in the world? To answer this question, let's first define "most toxic". After all, some might use the potency-size relationship to calculate toxicity; others might focus on victim statistics across the animal kingdom. For our purposes, however, "most venomous" means "the venomous animal most dangerous to humans."

The scariest animal in the world, the golden poison dart frog
The golden poison frog contains enough venom to kill 20,000 mice or 10 humans.

© reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

Another thing to define is the difference between "poisonous" and "poisonous". A lot of people ask us what the most venomous animal is, but what they really want to know is the most venomous animal. Let us explain.

Toxic species actively inject poisonous serum. In contrast, venomous animals transmit toxins passively. For example, puffer fish can be fatal to humans if eaten, as Homo sapiens is fatal to fish allergies. However, puffer fish do not inject poisonous fluids into the body as a defense mechanism, so they are not poisonous. So the moral of the story is that a poison is a toxin that enters the body through inhalation, swallowing, or absorption. Venom is the toxin injected into your body.

Now that we've surveyed the landscape, let's explore the world's most venomous animals, Mother Nature's loads of dangers for personal protection.

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The World's Most Venomous Spiders: Funnel Web Spiders

Sydney funnel web spider on tree trunk
Two species, the Sydney funnel-web spider and the arboreal funnel-web spider, are the most venomous arachnids in the world, and their bites can be fatal if left untreated.

© James van den Broek/Shutterstock.com

Two species of the family Atracidae – the Sydney funnel-web spider and the arboreal funnel-web spider – are among the most venomous arachnids in the world. Their bites can be fatal if left untreated, and they frequently collide with humans, so we've rounded them up as the most venomous spiders.

Both species are medium-sized and native to Australia. Female bites are harmless to humans, but male bites can incapacitate victims. They can even be fatal if left untreated.

When threatened, the poisonous funnel-webs stand up on their hind legs and bare their fangs. If the threat does not subside, they will bite the target up to 28 times, and symptoms usually appear within an hour. The initial injection can be excruciating and cause involuntary jerks and disorientation.

Unfortunately, venomous funnel-web spiders often collide with people. Thankfully, scientists have developed a highly effective life-saving antivenom that has saved thousands of lives over the past few decades. Interestingly, funnel-web spiders affect humans and primates, but not other mammals.

These sleek crawling assassins are available in blue and black, all black, brown and deep purple. They are usually 0.5 to 2 inches long, with females being larger than males. However, in 2016, scientists at the Australian Reptile Park welcomed a male funnel-web spider with a four-inch leg spread, the largest specimen ever!

Read more about spiders here, they all produce silk.

Most Venomous Jellyfish: The Box Jellyfish

10 Most Venomous Animals - Box Jellyfish Photographed in Aquariums
About 20 people die each year from box jellyfish stings.

©Daleen Loest/Shutterstock.com

The box jellyfish is the most venomous animal in the world. They die within minutes of being stung.

There are 51 species of box jellyfish, four of which – Chironex fleckeri, Carukia barnesi, Malo kingi and Chironex yamaguchii – are highly venomous! The box-shaped, gelatinous predators have claimed hundreds of lives since mortalities first began being recorded in 1883. In the Philippines alone, about 20 people die each year from complications of stings.

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The box jellyfish is about eight inches long and has tentacles up to 10 feet long! Most humans have 15 tentacles per horn, with approximately 500,000 venom syringes per tentacle! In other words, a box jellyfish has about 30 million stingers!

Thankfully, the vast majority of jellyfish stings are minor. But every once in a while, individuals come away with a full load, and the unfortunate victim can die within minutes. Jellyfish may be one of the most venomous animals in the world.

Read more here about the box jellyfish, which actively hunts its prey instead of drifting into it like other jellyfish.

World's Most Venomous Snake: Sawscaled Viper

10 Most Venomous Animals - The Roman Saw Scaled Viper Is The Most Dangerous Snake In Africa And Asia
The Roman saw-scaled viper is the most dangerous snake in Africa and Asia.

©Luis Montero de Espinosa/Shutterstock.com

The most venomous snake in North America is the eastern diamondback, but the most venomous snake in the world is the sawscale viper—also known as the "carpet viper." These slithering executioners belong to the genus Echis and can be found in Africa, India, the Middle East, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

But trust us, the last thing you want is to encounter them – as their bites are painful and sometimes fatal! Echises hold the world record for the most human snakebite deaths. In their native range, the genus is responsible for more deaths than snakes from all other regions combined. In addition to death, the sawscale viper has caused thousands of amputations.

Females of this species are twice as venomous as males, and their deadly serum is a mixture of neurotoxins, cardiotoxins, hemotoxins, and cytotoxins that attack the nervous system, heart, blood, and cells, respectively.

Sawscale spiders use sideways motion to glide across arid areas and are between 1 and 3 feet long. Individuals have brown, gray, or orange skin, dark dorsal patches, and pear-shaped heads.

Read more about snakes that live around the world here.

World's Most Venomous Insect: Maricopa Harvester Ant

Maricopa Harvester Ant Feeding
Maricopa ant stings are 20 times more venomous than bee venom and 35 times more venomous than western diamondback moth rattlesnake venom.

© Deer worawut/Shutterstock.com

There are 26 species of harvester ants – many of which are harmless and are often used on ant farms. But Pogonomyrmex maricopa — aka the "maricopa harvester ant" — is widely considered the most venomous insect on Earth.

Maricopa stings are 20 times more venomous than bee venom and 35 times more venomous than western diamondback moth rattlesnakes! If a colony of Maricopa harvester ants were targeting humans, the insects could technically kill a person with hundreds of bites. More often than not, though, victims can get away with this before it happens.

Regardless, many people experience considerable pain lasting two to eight hours after an attack.

Maricopa harvester ants only live for one to three months. They live in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah — plus the Mexican states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Sonora . While Maricopa's populations are currently healthy, antologists — people who study ants — warn that numbers are declining. Invasive species of fire ants and Argentine ants are taking over Maricopa's territory, and competition for food is heating up.

Read more about the ants that live in colonies of 10,000 queens here.

The most venomous animal in the world: the inland taipan snake

10 Most Venomous Animals - Outback Taipans in Attack Position
A single bite from an inland taipan snake has enough venom to kill 100 adults.

© iStock.com/Ken Griffiths

One bite of an inland taipan snake has enough venom to kill 100 adults! By volume, it is the most poisonous animal in the world to humans. Known by Aboriginal Australians as dandaorabilla, these six- to eight-foot-long serum-killers are fast and accurate, releasing a bit of venom with each bite.

But there is good news. The inland taipan is timid and reclusive and will go to great lengths to avoid us. They were so people-avoiding that scientists couldn't find enough people to study them between 1882 (when they were first discovered) and 1972! In addition, inland taipans are active at night and rarely come out during the day.

Read more  komodo dragon

Read more about snakes here, which live between 9 and 20 years.

The most poisonous scorpion in the world: Indian red scorpion

10 Most Venomous Animals - Indian Red Tailed Scorpion, Saswad, Pune District, Maharashtra
While a sting from an Indian red-tailed scorpion can be fatal, scientists believe the serum could lead to advances in medicines that could better fight cancer, malaria and various skin diseases.

©RealityImages/Shutterstock.com

With their tiny pincers, bulbous tail, and large stinger, Indian red scorpions top the list of the most venomous scorpions. Mortality reports fluctuate between 8% and 40%, and sadly, children are most affected by the Indian red scorpion venom.

Indian red scorpions are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, with a body length of about five to nine centimeters, and most of them live no more than five years. They prefer tropical and subtropical habitats and are often captured for research projects and the illegal pet trade.

Following an attack, humans may begin to vomit, sweat uncontrollably, convulse, and even fall into a coma.

But the Indian red scorpion's venom isn't all bad. Scientists believe the serum could lead to the advancement of medicines to better fight cancer, malaria and various skin diseases.

Read more about scorpions, which have eight legs, here.

The most poisonous fish in the world: stonefish

10 Most Venomous Animals - Reef Fish Lying Waiting For Prey
The dorsal fin of reef fish is filled with venom. However, their stings are usually not fatal due to advances in venom resistance.

©Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com

There are five species of Synanceias – commonly called stonefish – and you don't want to come across any of them on the beach! Their venom-filled dorsal fin can sting faster than you can say "ouch." If you get stung, you'll say ouch! Stonefish stings are not only extremely painful, but can be fatal if left untreated.

Stonefish travel across the Indian and Pacific oceans, and occasionally hang out on the east coast of Africa, the north coast of Australia, and some islands in the South Pacific.

Beaches in the Stonefish area often have vinegar stations, as this common household item can significantly reduce Synanceia stings on contact. Antivenom is also usually stocked in area hospitals and medical clinics. No fatalities have been reported since scientists developed an antivenom effective against stonefish stings. In fact, the last Synanceia-related death occurred in 1915!

Learn more about the fish that live in every body of water on Earth here.

Most Venomous Mollusks: Cone Snails

10 Most Venomous Animals - Deadly Poisonous Cone Shells Isolated From Zanzibar
Cone snails are generally not fatal to humans, but attacks can cause challenging symptoms because their stingers act like hypodermic needles to deliver toxic serum with precision.

©O'KHAEN/Shutterstock.com

Cone snails are abundant in Indo-Pacific waters and are among the world's most inconspicuous venomous animals. But don't be fooled! These molluscs may be the couch potatoes of the aquatic world, but they're deadly!

There are 900 species of cone snails, and their taxonomy has been in flux for about a decade. But what scientists can agree on is that the cone snail is one of the more venomous marine animals alive today.

Small cone snails are not dangerous to humans, but larger cone snails — which can grow to nearly 10 inches — are fine. Attacks can cause challenging symptoms, as the cone snail's stinger acts like a hypodermic needle, delivering toxic serum with precision.

Read more about snails here, they come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns.

Most Venomous Lizard: Mexican Beaded Lizard

10 Most Venomous Animals - The Mexican Beaded Lizard, one of two venomous beaded lizards found mainly in Mexico and southern Guatemala
The Mexican beaded lizard is one of two venomous beaded lizards found mainly in Mexico and southern Guatemala.

©Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com

Thousands of beaded lizards roam the woodlands of Mexico and Guatemala. They weigh about 2 pounds (800 grams) and have a pink, forked tongue that they use to smell. They are also the most poisonous lizards to humans.

But in general, lizards do not pose much of a threat to humans. Although the Mexican beaded lizard has the most poisonous venom of any lizard species, only a handful of humans have died from their bites throughout history.

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The jaw glands of the Mexican beaded lizard carry venomous serum. When the reptile attacks, it chews its victim to ensure a subcutaneous puncture. But the good news is that Mexican beaded lizards don't attack humans very often, and when they do, they rarely result in death.

Despite their reluctance to attack and kill humans, Mexican beaded lizards have been vilified for centuries. According to legend, the cowhide tiger has the ability to cause a woman to abort at one glance and strike lightning with its tail! Also, many people mistakenly believe that Mexican beaded lizards carry more venom than rattlesnakes. Unfortunately, all these myths and misconceptions are reducing their population massively as people believe these ridiculous stories and shoot them live!

Another issue that contributed to their downfall was their status as a hot commodity in the illegal pet market.

The good news is that both Mexico and Guatemala have laws in place to protect the Mexican beaded lizard, despite being classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List.

Read more about lizards, of which there are more than 5,000 species, here.

Most Venomous Mammal: Platypus

10 Most Venomous Animals - Platypus eat worms in Tasmania
The male platypus releases venom from "spurs" on its legs, which can kill cats and dogs, but not humans.

©John Carnemolla/Shutterstock.com

The platypus — more commonly known as the platypus — is the most poisonous mammal to humans. That said, they do not pose a significant threat to people. Like lizards, few mammals can cause serious harm to Homo sapiens by injecting venom.

Male platypuses release venom from "spurs" on their legs. The dose is enough to kill dogs and cats, but not us. That said, platypus bites are nothing to sneeze at! They cause injury and can cause temporary incapacity, not to mention long-term pain sensitivity.

The semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammals lived in eastern Australia, and scientists today see them as an evolutionary link to the distant past. But the research community hasn't always been keen on duckbill swimmers. When European naturalists first observed the platypus carcass, they dismissed it as "fake news", insisting that the hoax samples were taken by Frankenstein from various creatures.

Read more about the stomachless platypus here.

Most Poisonous Bird: The Hooded Pitohui

most vicious animal
A hooded pitohui (Pitohui dichrous) in a tree in Varirata National Park, Papua New Guinea.

©feathercollector/Shutterstock.com

Although rare, there are several species of poisonous birds, and they are not creatures to laugh at. The most venomous bird is the crested bunting, which contains a neurotoxin called Homobatrachotoxin in its skin and feathers, obtained from the venomous Choresine beetle. If stabbed or scratched by its beak, the bird's venom can cause numbness and even paralysis and death.

The charming bird, with its brick-red belly and black head, was venomous when a man caught one in New Guinea in 1989. After removing the bird from the net, his fingers were bitten so badly that his fingers and mouth were numb after sucking his own blood.

The hooded pitohui is a single type without any subspecies. Birds of southeastern New Guinea are sometimes grouped into a proposed subspecies, P. d. monticola , but the differences are so small that the putative subspecies are generally considered inseparable.

Here's our list of the 10 most poisonous animals for humans. Be safe out there!

Want to learn more fun facts about Earth's species? Check out our animal blog!

Top 10 most poisonous animals in the world

Here is a list of the 10 most poisonous animals in the world:

rank animal type
1 funnel web spider spider
2 box jellyfish jellyfish
3 Sawscale Viper snake
4 Maricopa Harvester Ants insect
5 inland taipan snake Snakes (most deadly to humans)
6 red scorpion scorpion
7 stone fish fish
8 cone snail mollusk
9 Mexican Beaded Lizard lizard
10 platypus mammal
11 Hooded Pitohui bird

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10 Most Venomous Animals - Outback Taipans in Attack Position
Inland Taipan in attacking position

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My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.

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