Some of these creatures are beautiful to look at, but they're also among the most venomous animals on Earth. Found all over the world, these small but deadly organisms pack a punch — if you're unlucky enough to get close to them. Before we dive in, a clarification: don't confuse venomous with poisonous; venomous critters need to bite or sting to inject their toxins, as opposed to poisonous ones, which can kill only if they're touched or consumed.
The Indian red scorpion beats out some pretty dangerous competition — like the fattail scorpion and aptly named deathstalker — for the title of Most Deadly Scorpion in the world. Found in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, this creepy crawly's sting has up to a 40% mortality rate, though it is far more dangerous to children and the elderly than to a healthy adult.
Despite its name, the Brazilian wandering spider can be found not only in Brazil but throughout much of South and Central America. One of the world's biggest arachnids, this furry fellow is also the most dangerous; its venom has a paralyzing effect and can cause death within the hour. The good news is, there's an anti-venom, but if you're bitten you'll need to seek medical help ASAP.
The Indo-Pacific stonefish is named for its deceptive appearance — the creature often camouflages itself among rocks and sand, leading many unsuspecting victims to step on it. If that happens, any one of the 13 spikes on top of its body can inject a powerful toxin that causes muscle weakness, temporary paralysis, and even death, all in less an hour.
The king cobra, instantly recognizable by the distinctive hooded shape around its head, has enough venom to kill about 20 humans — but it only strikes when threatened. At up to six meters long, the king cobra is also the world's longest venomous snake, and is found in South and Southeast Asia. If bitten, a person faces a risk of fatality as high as 75%, but humans aren't the only species in danger. The venom is potent enough to kill an elephant, and the cobra is also known for eating other snakes.
The black mamba — which, despite its name, is brown in color — is deadly primarily due to its speed. Able to reach upwards of 12 miles an hour, the black mamba is one of the world's fastest snakes and will bite repeatedly when threatened. One bite contains enough venom to kill up to 10 people.
Found in Australia, the inland taipan is the world's most venomous snake — in fact, it's a whopping 200 times more venomous than the common cobra. Its venom contains both neurotoxins and hemotoxins, which cause paralysis, difficulty breathing, and internal bleeding, and can kill in as little as half an hour. While a single bite from the inland taipan is capable of killing 100 humans, there have been few recorded fatalities, as most bites are treated with antivenom.
The striking blue-ringed octopus is only as big as a golf ball. Despite its diminutive size, however, a single creature contains enough venom to kill up to 25 humans within minutes. Its neurotoxins attack the nervous system, causing paralysis and impairing breathing unless treated immediately.
You might recognize the marbled cone snail from its beautiful and distinctive brown and white shell, but did you know it can also be deadly? This snail, usually found in warm, tropical waters, has harpoon-like teeth that can cause pain, numbness, and even paralysis or death. Though there have only been around 30 recorded deaths from cone snail toxin, the effects work quickly, and there is no antivenom, so be careful about what you pick up in the ocean.
Though not technically venomous, the poison dart frog is regarded as perhaps the most poisonous animal on Earth. It is coated in batrachotoxin, which is so potent that as little as two micrograms can kill an adult human — roughly the same amount that could fit on the head of a pin. These frogs get their name from indigenous tribes that traditionally used the toxin to lace their arrows and darts. Though deadly, the brightly colored poison dart frog is beautiful and, unfortunately, endangered due to deforestation.
The box jellyfish is the world's most venomous animal. Located in the waters around Asia and Australia, it can inject a toxin so painful that it causes immediate shock; most people stung by a box jellyfish drown or die of heart failure within minutes. As a result, the creatures have killed over 5,500 people since 1954, and an estimated 100 people die each year. If you think you've been stung by a box jellyfish, you should treat it immediately; the acetic acid in vinegar can counteract the toxin, though it won't alleviate the pain, which can persist for several weeks afterward.
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