Several creatures in the animal kingdom naturally manufacture poison, chemicals, and toxins or accrue venoms from their food. They do so to preserve themselves and subdue the prey. No wonder poisonous organisms occur in all forms, textures, and colors, ranging from sea creatures to land walkers.

One may consider these chemical compounds to be biological medication. Instead, it is something that creatures employ to defend themselves because it either renders the beast wanting to devour them a dreadful feeling or annihilates the creature in the worst-case scenario. 

If you come across an unknown spider species, you might question if it is poisonous or venomous or whether there is even a distinction at all. The actuality is that the terms “venomous” and “poisonous” are distinct ideas that reflect distinctive methods in which species use toxic biological weapons.

All venomous and poisonous creatures possess toxins that are harmful or fatal to other living things. The main distinction is how the toxin is disseminated.

Toxins are compounds that have significant, severe biological responses in tiny amounts and are used by both venomous and poisonous species. On the other hand, poisonous species discreetly secrete toxic substances through their epidermis when some other organism brushes or consumes them.

If creatures are excellent at anything, it is killing other animals in just about any event. Several organisms, including the black widow spider and pufferfish, have risen to prominence due to their lethal abilities. On the other hand, plenty more are yet to gain their due acclaim.

Check out this list of the most poisonous animals in the world. And if you still want to eat them………Well, Bon appetit!

Table of Contents

1. The Hooded Pitohui

The Hooded Pitohui
The Hooded Pitohui | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
NameThe Hooded Pitohui
Found InNew Guinea
Poison sourceToxins accumulated from insect prey
Venom effectWeakness, nausea, vomiting, muscle tenderness, and abdominal pain

Birds are rarely thought to be deadly, let alone poisonous, yet ecology constantly manages to devise a method to surprise us. The epidermis and feather of New Guinea’s hooded pitohui contain a neurotoxic dubbed homobatrachotoxin, which produces minor pain and numbness in humans. However, it can be deadly to small rodents.

This venom is thought to come from the pitohui’s dietary habits, which seem to be the reservoir of poisons emitted by poison dart frogs. Its meat, however, can provoke a non-fatal human sickness termed “coturnism” if the bird has been consuming a specific type of plant.

The pitohui, according to scientists, does not produce its own toxins and instead obtains them from its tiny insect prey, which does not affect them. In contrast, any other creatures that consume them can develop immediate reactions.

2. The Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill Turtle
The Hawksbill Turtle | Image Credit – Flickr
NameHawksbill turtles
Found InSoutheast Asia 
Poison sourceDiet of poisonous algae
Venom effectAbdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache; Fatal if untreated

Hawksbill turtles are not those regular turtles we go about teasing and petting. These are dangerous, and full-grown adult measures somewhere around 150 and 200 pounds, approximately the same as a human.

These turtles are found throughout the planet. Those found in Southeast Asia periodically overload excessively on poisonous algae, putting anyone who consumes their flesh at risk of developing marine turtle poisoning. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems are among MTP symptoms.

The good headlines or bad news is that hawksbill turtles are vulnerable and threatened. And, a widespread MTP incidence would make these turtles a less tempting cuisine at the dining table.

3. Pufferfish

Pufferfish | Image Credit – Flickr
Found InJapan, China, the Philippines, and Mexico
Poison sourceNeurotoxin found in the skin tissue, muscular tissue, liver, and gonads
Venom effectStinging, blistering in the mouth, nausea, headache, slurred speech, and cognitive issues

Although pufferfish are adorable, they are also incredibly hazardous. Most pufferfish are located on the shores bordering Japan, China, the Philippines, and Mexico. Despite being poisonous, pufferfish can be eaten if treated correctly following food safety guidelines.

Because improper preparation of the delicacy can result in food poisoning and fatality, perfectly equipped servings are regarded as a rarity and can be sold for a high price. To taste the potentially killing delicacy, consider paying up to $200 per serving!

Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin found in the skin tissue, muscular tissue, liver, and gonads of pufferfish. One will suffer stinging, blistering in the mouth, nausea, headache, slurred speech, and cognitive issues if they accidentally swallow this poisonous flesh.

The victim will endure convulsions, paralysis, cardiac arrhythmia, and eventually death if consumed in excessive amounts.

4. Poison dart frog

Poison Dart Frog
Poison Dart Frog | Image Credit – Flickr
NamePoison dart frog
Found InTropical environments of Central and South America
Poison sourceToxins accumulation from their diet of beetles
Venom effectMuscle contractions, salivation, and death

The poison dart frog is the planet’s deadliest poisonous amphibian. These frogs thrive in Central and South American rainforests. As per experts, there are over a hundred separate species of poison dart frogs on the planet. And they are found in an assortment of shades and patterns.

From among the subfamily, golden poison dart frogs are the most lethal ones. A single golden poison dart frog can kill up to ten adult men with its toxin. These frogs do not produce the toxins but instead get their strong poison from consuming certain crustacean beetles.

To bring the lethality of poison dart frogs into proportion, the golden poison frog is considered to possess enough venom in its epidermis to destroy 20,000 mice in a single go. 

Another intriguing fact concerning poison dart frogs is their name. It originates from Native American tribespeople who utilized the frogs’ toxic fluids to tip blow darts, then employed the darts as weapons for hunting and killing.

Doesn’t this accurately illustrate the ferocity of their chemicals and the reverence humanity has for them?

5. Cane toad

Cane toad
Cane toad | Image Credit – Flickr
NameCane toads
Found InAmazon basin in South America
Poison sourceBufotoxin in the glands
Venom effectIncreases blood pressure and breathing, salivation, twitching, vomiting and paralysis

Cane toads secrete exceedingly deadly poisonous glandular discharges termed bufotoxin, which can sicken or even kill animals who attack or ingest them, including ferocious native wildlife and tiny domesticated animals.

The person handling the epidermal fluids may get irritation or burns in their eyeballs. Bufotoxin is also found in cane toad eggs, damaging or killing any organism that devours the babies. Isn’t this the very best ecological gift to protect the younger ones? The poison in their flesh is especially lethal to people, even if accidentally consumed in tiny amounts.

6. Spanish fly

Spanish fly
Spanish Fly | Image Credit –
NameSpanish fly
Found InAcross Eurasia
Poison sourceChemical compound called cantharidin
Venom effectUlcers, burning, and hemorrhaging all through the digestive system

A Spanish fly is a blistering insect that releases the chemical compound called cantharidin to protect itself from attackers. When the poison comes into contact with other animals, it leads to severe blisters and agonizing sensations.

The poison in the beetle induces ulcers, burning, and hemorrhaging all through the digestive system and can even lead to immediate demise if ingested in considerable amounts. Furthermore, it only takes 30 milligrams to kill a person. And, in 5,000 people, one gram should be enough to trigger severe symptoms.

The primary symptoms include a terrible erection (in males), bloody diarrhea, and intestinal disturbances. There have also been multiple accounts of cardiac, renal, and neurological injuries associated with the Spanish fly.

7. Rough-skinned newt

Rough-skinned newt
Rough-skinned newt | Image Credit – Flickr
NameRough-skinned newt
Found InPacific coast of North America
Poison sourceTetrodotoxin in the tissue
Venom effectNumbness and cardiogenic shock; paralysis

There seem to be three toxic salamander varieties, the rough-skinned newt being the most dangerous one. They withhold enough tetrodotoxin in their tissue to destroy most hunters, and they emit a pungent odor to alert others. Hence, if you ever find a funny-smelling salamander, don’t mistake it for food or a friend!

However, those who consume the newt feel numbness and cardiogenic shock across their bodies. High doses can result in paralysis and fatality. Researchers suggest that rather than manufacturing the poison themselves, the salamander relies on bacteria to do so for them. 

And this was the first occasion where tetrodotoxin-producing bacteria were discovered on land creatures.

8. Striated surgeonfish

Striated surgeonfish
Striated surgeonfish | Image Credit – Flickr
NameStriated surgeonfish
Found InWaters of Indo-Pacific region
Poison sourceOverabundance of mycotoxins from tiny dinoflagellates
Venom effectSymptoms similar to food poisoning that may last for months or years

Like some other surgeonfishes, the striated surgeonfish possesses perilously pointed scalpel-like spines along either side of the fin, employed for defense or predation. The species can be found in rocky places or on coral reefs.

The striated surgeonfish is among the few plant-eating fish that can become excessively poisonous due to ciguatera poisoning. This sickness is activated by an overabundance of mycotoxins manufactured by tiny dinoflagellates that it consumes while grazing on aquatic vegetation.

Ciguatera symptoms are similar to those of other types of food poisoning. Still, they can linger for months or years, and they can be so acute that the disorder is frequently mistaken for multiple sclerosis.

9. Greenland shark

Greenland shark
Greenland shark | Image Credit – Flickr
NameGreenland shark
Found InNorth Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean
Poison sourceTrimethylamine oxide found in the muscles
Venom effectAcute drunkenness; fatal is not treated

If you ingest Greenland shark flesh, it should elicit sensations equivalent to acute drunkenness in humans, and the neurotoxins in their skin can even render sled dogs paralyzed. Does that mean it may replace alcohol? Definitely not!

This poisoning is caused by trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), which is found in the muscle of Greenland shark meat and aids the shark in stabilizing its enzymatic and cellular components in the light of the devastating impact of extreme cold and high hydraulic pressure in the deep sea. 

Greenland shark flesh can, however, be processed using a fermentation technique that eliminates the TMAO, producing a popular Icelandic national delicacy. Hákarl or kstur hákarl is a meal fashioned by suspending the flesh of a Greenland shark over four to five months to remove the toxicants.

10. Blue-capped ifrit

Poisonous Birds – Acquiring Toxicity from Bugs | Video Credit – BioBush
NameBlue-capped ifrit
Found InNew Guinea
Poison sourceBatrachotoxin in the wings
Venom effectParalysis

The Ifrita Kowaldi, sometimes called the blue-capped ifrit, is a petite insect-eating egrets subspecies belonging to the Ifritidae monotypic genus.

Blue-capped Ifrits belong to a tiny bunch of poisonous wild bird species. They secrete batrachotoxin into their wings and epidermis to protect themselves from attackers. Batrachotoxin latches to sodium receptors in nerve fibers and activates them persistently, causing paralysis in anyone that consumes the bird.

To Wrap Up

Fortunately, now that you know what poisonous animals look like and what hazards they represent to humans, you ought to be adequately prepared to avoid them in the wilderness. Luckily, most of these chemical compounds have antivenins, and prompt hospital attention can indeed save a person’s life.

If there is any lesson we can take away after this quick tour of mother nature’s poisons, that will be ecological poison beats every kind of human warfare creation.

(Last Updated on May 2, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!