15 Cute Lil' Critters That Are Filled With Deadly Poison
The natural world is one that’s filled with incredible wonders, even if the only way many of us will ever see them is in a Netflix nature documentary called Incredible Wonders. Some of the world’s most stunningly beautiful fauna are now featured most heavily on the demo 4K TVs at your local Best Buy. Even through a TV screen, though, many of them are enough to take your breath away, or at minimum, inspire a deep urge to give them a lil’ pat on the head.
Of course, to survive, animals need more than just cool red splotches. They also need defense mechanisms, or ways in which to incapacitate and capture prey. This leads to some animals that are adorable little contradictions, in that as much as you might want to pick one up and give it a little kiss, doing so would likely make your lips numb within seconds. Here are 15 critters that are way too cute for the fact that they’re filled with poison.
And for the pedants, yes: poisonous animals transfer poison passively, and venomous animals transfer venom actively through things like bites. So put down your homemade Jeopardy buzzer and let’s keep moving.
Southern Short-Tailed Shrew
A shrew making it onto this list at all can be surprising as mammals are much more rarely venomous than something more scale-covered. The Southern short-tailed shrew, however, not only has some secret, home-brewed toxins in store, but has grooved incisor teeth to deliver it with. It’s not enough to kill a human, but it’s definitely enough to ruin your camping trip.
Yes, God’s Favorite Mistake adds to its laundry list of confusing traits by being highly venomous. If you’re flipping a platypus around in your hands, trying to figure out just how the hell this animal happened, avoid the spurs on its hind legs. The venom stored inside causes extreme pain that, in a final inexplicable insult, is immune to morphine.
Most of the modern population is much more aware of the dangers stingrays can pose to humans because they all know why the Crocodile Hunter got cancelled. The stingray that took down Steve Irwin was a short-tailed stingray, but the Bluespotted stingray is the most venomous of the flat fish. A sting from its barb is described with the word that maybe I read more than any other while researching this story: excruciating.
Marbled Cone Snail
This pretty little critter at first glance might seem like something you’d find in a jar at a beachfront AirBNB bathroom. It’s got a beautifully patterned shell in a cute little shape. It also has a tiny barb that it can sting you with, injecting a venom capable of killing a human in 4 minutes. I promise you, that arts & crafts project is not worth it.
A tiny jellyfish as big as the tip of your finger!? That seems like the sort of animal custom-designed to make people watching a TikTok about it cry from pure cute energy. A TikTok video is by far a safer way to observe it than in the small transparent flesh, however. Its sting causes extreme pain, possible brain hemorrhages, and currently has no anti-venom.
Personally, I am not a fan of any octopus that isn’t an animated one rocking out on a drumset. I can understand, however, that a lot of people find them “cool” and not “deeply psychologically unnerving.” Between the two groups of us, though, one is way more likely to attempt to interact with the golf-ball sized Blue-ringed octopus, whose bite can kill a human in under 30 minutes. So I stand by my judgment.
The Box Jellyfish maybe isn’t as traditionally “cute’ as the other animals on this list. It more accurately could be described as “eerily, ethereally beautiful.” Just imagine someone reading that in a posh british accent while this almost transparent, 10 foot long jellyfish floats across the LEDs of your big-screen. It’s also the most venomous animal in the world and one of the most deadly. A box jellyfish sting can kill you in under 5 minutes. JUST long enough to fully appreciate the grandeur of the dancing tentacles that killed you.
Most notably known as a slang term for an aphrodisiac, the Spanish Fly is a very real insect covered in poison that will cause you a very bad time. It’s covered in a poison that not only causes blisters and possible blindness if exposed to the eyes, but, as you might be able to guess, is not a whole lot of fun to digest.
Here you go, the entry that you were probably most likely to scroll down before reading to see if it showed up. The poisonous pufferfish, famous for being a dangerous delicacy and Simpsons plot device. The pufferfish contains a poison that makes cyanide look like saline solution, each one containing enough to kill 30 humans. Definitely one type of sushi that you don’t want to see offered at 7-Eleven.
It’s unfortunate that this cool little fella, who looks more like a Pokemon starter than a deeply poisonous toxin-bomb, is as dangerous as it is. They’re poisonous, not venomous, so you can at least admire them from afar without worry. Just don’t get drunk and eat one on a dare, like this unfortunate, expired dummy.
The Hooded Pitohui, a pretty little bird native to Papua New Guinea, is covered in a second-hand substance that is none too pleasant on the skin. Thanks to a diet of toxic melyrid beetles, the Pitohui then secretes that same toxin out onto their feathers and beak.
Golden Dart Frog
This guy? Deadly? He looks like a damn Neopet! Unfortunately, not only is the Golden Dart Frog venomous, it’s, to be scientific about it, venomous as a motherREDACTED. This tiny little two-inch cutie has enough venom in it to kill almost a dozen humans. Colombian tribes long learned to leave this guy alone, outside of treating their blowgun darts with its venom while hunting.
The slow loris might seem like an adorable find hanging off a tree, but scientists would highly recommend against giving it the hug you so desperately want to. The slow loris secretes a necrotic toxin from its upper arms, which it then licks off and delivers via sharp fangs. Necrotic meaning flesh-eating. Flesh-eating meaning really, really unpleasant.
It’s usually a solid rule of thumb when it comes to an animal you can’t identify, that if it has a really fun, cool pattern all over it, you should definitely not touch it. The Gila monster, with a pattern streetwear designers would kill for, is one of these animals. Not only does it have a painful venomous bite, but when it does bite you, it’s known for clamping down and being incredibly difficult to remove from whatever appendage it just dined on. This ruins your hike.
Cane toads are covered in a bufotoxin, with adult toads also able to fire the toxin from their back when threatened. This toxin is enough to kill animals like dogs that are much bigger than the toads themselves. It also joins the pufferfish as one of the few venomous animals that people deliberately put in their mouth, though in this case, the venom is the whole reason: yup, this is the “hallucinogenic toad.” Look, if you’re deep enough down the rabbit hole to lick toads, just call up the friend I’m sure you have that sells acid.