Venoms: Striking Beauties

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Venoms 101

Venom Basics
Venoms Quiz
Venoms Websites

velvet ant waspVenom Basics

Some of the world’s loveliest creatures are also the most lethal creatures. Why?

Because they produce and use venom — an injected toxin — to capture prey and deter predators. Many people think that only snakes and spiders are venomous, but a variety of animals, both from land and sea, use venom.

Consider the superbly camouflaged stonefish whose extremely sharp, venom-filled spines have caused human fatalities, usually when people accidentally stepped on the fish while wading. Or the Vietnamese Giant Centipede that can easily chase down and kill insects, lizards, snakes, toads, and mice. This centipede can give humans a serious and painful, but rarely fatal, bite.

Venom gives animals a deadly edge in survival. By injecting toxins, venomous animals can kill prey larger and faster than themselves and deter even the most threatening predator.

It is this deadly and "dangerous" nature of venom that makes venomous animals so interesting to us, and the fact that many of them are strikingly beautiful.

Poison vs. Venom

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually have very different meanings. It is the delivery method that distinguishes one from the other. Poison is absorbed or ingested; a poisonous animal can only deliver toxic chemicals if another animal touches or eats it. Venom, on the other hand, is always injected. Every venomous animal has a mechanism to inject toxins directly into another animal. Stab with tails. Slash with spines. Pierce with fangs. Spike with spurs. Shoot with harpoons. Chew with teeth.

Poisonous or Venomous?

arboreal tarantula

 

Arboreal Tarantula Avicularia avicularia

This tree-dwelling tarantula injects toxins with its fangs, killing insects, small mammals, and other prey: it’s venomous. This tarantula’s mild venom is not dangerous to humans.

 

Poisonous or Venomous?

poison dart frog

 

Poison Dart Frog Dendrobates azureus

These frogs secrete a toxic substance from their skin, causing sickness or even death to animals that touch or eat them. But the frogs have no way to inject their toxins: they’re poisonous, not venomous. This species has mild toxins that wouldn’t hurt a human, but other species are extremely potent.

Photo by Charles Fox  

 

Color Me Deadly

purple sea urchinMany animals advertise their venom with color, behavior, or sound - bright colors and threatening behaviors signal danger. Predators instinctively know or learn to avoid animals with those colors or behaviors, even those that aren’t venomous. Some non-venomous animals mimic the colors or behaviors of venomous animals to scare off predators.

The Eastern coral snake is best known for its dramatic coloration: rings of red, yellow and black make this animal strikingly distinctive. But don’t be fooled: the non-venomous Scarlet king snake mimics the Eastern coral snake, but its rings of red, yellow and black appear in a different order.

To distinguish non-venomous mimics from coral snakes, remember this rhyme,

Black on yellow, kill a fellow
Red on black, friend of Jack.

Alright, if you think you're so smart, take the Venoms Quiz!

 

Venoms Websites
Venoms Bibliography
California Academy of Sciences Library

AMPHIBIANS:

Poison Dart Frog Dendrobates azureus

Helix Productions - Blue Poison Frog (Dendrobates azureus)
http://www.helixpro.net/anuran/azure.htm

National Aquarium in Baltimore - Poison Dart Frog
http://www.aqua.org/animals/species/prpdfrog.html

University of Michigan-Museum of Zoology - Dendrobatidae
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/chordata/lissamphibia/anura/dendrobatidae.html

Dendrobates asureus
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/dendrobates/d._azureus.html

AQUATIC INVERTEBRATES:

Blue-ringed Octopus Hapalochlaena lunulata

Blue-ringed Octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) - The Cephalopod Page
http://is.dal.ca/~ceph/TCP/

Pet Wherehouse — Blue-ringed octopus
http://www.petwhse2.com/gillsgrotto/species/blueringedoctopus.asp

Underwater World — Perth, Australia
http://www.underwater.com.au/octopus.html

California Wild — Eye of the Newt, Skin of Toad, Bile of the Pufferfish
http://staging/calwild/archives/sum98/eye.htm

 

Corals Catalaphyllia jardinei and Millpora sp.

Elegance Coral (Catalaphyllia jardinei)
http://animalatlas.com/encyclo/reef/lg_stony/elegance.htm

Sea World
http://www.seaworld.org/VirtualAquarium/elegant.html

Coelenterate and Jellyfish Envenomations
http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic104.htm

 

Marbled Cone Snail — Conus marmoreus

Cone Shells by Tidal Region
http://grimwade.biochem.unimelb.edu.au/cone/conetype.html

About Cone Shells
http://grimwade.biochem.unimelb.edu.au/cone/about.html

Doctor Snail — Cone Snails
http://www.nrel.colostate.edu:8080/~bobn/rkn.2c.invert/rkn.invert.003.conesnail.html

Cone Snail Web
http://www.life.nthu.edu.tw/~lablpc/lin/index.html

 

Moon Jelly Aurelia labiata

Oregon Coast Aquarium Newport-jelly cam - Oregon Moon Jelly (Aurelia labiata)
http://www.aquarium.org/jellies/jellycam.htm

Save The Bay- Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island - Moon Jelly (Aurelia aurita)
http://www.savebay.org/bbonline/summer99/creaturefeature.htm

South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources- Sea Science - Moon Jelly (Aurelia aurita)
http://www.dnr.state.sc.us/marine/pub/seascience/jellylfi.html

University of Michigan-Museum of Zoology - Moon Jelly (Aurelia aurita)
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/aurelia/a._aurita.html

 

Nudibranch Hermissenda crassicornis

Nudibranch of the Week
http://siolibrary.ucsd.edu/slugsite/nudiwkps/nudiwk24.html

Nudibrnch of the Week II
http://siolibrary/ucsd.edu/slugsite/nudwk184.htm

Aquarium Frontiers without a Backbone
http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish/aqfm/1999/may/wb/default..asp

 

Sea Anenome Heteractis magnifica

Sea Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)
http://www.biodiversity.uno.edu/ebooks/ch1.html

Cautious Coral Enterprises — Heteractis magnifica
http://www.lamere.net/cautiouscoral/anemone/magnificarad.html

FishDomain.Com — Heteractis megnifica
http://fishdomain.com/anemone_magnificent.shtml

 

Sea Wasp Jelly Chironex fleckeri

Australian Venomous Marine Creatures- Australian Venom Research Unit - Sea Wasp Jelly (Chironex fleckeri)
http://www.pharmacology.unimelb.edu.au/pharmwww/avruweb/jellyfi.htm

Animal Diversity- University of Michigan -

Marine Stinger, Sea Wasp Jelly (Chironex fleckeri)
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/chironex/c._fleckeri.html

University of Melbourne — Department of Pharmacology - Box Jellyfish or Sea Wasp
http://www.pharmacology.unimelb.edu.au/pharmwww/avruweb/jellyfi.htm

Waikiki Aquarium - Box Jellies
http://waquarium.mic.hawaii.edu/MLP/root/html/MarineLife/Invertebrates/Cnidarians/BoxJelly.html

 

Upside-down Jelly Cassiopea andromeda

University of Michigan-Museum of Zoology - Upside-down Jelly (Cassiopea andromeda)
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/cassiopeia/c._andromeda.html

Tennessee Aquarium - Upside-down Jelly (Cassiopea xamachama)
http://www.tnaqua.org/Special/upsidedown.html

 

FISH

Dwarf Lionfish Dendrochirus brachypterus

Dwarf Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus)
http://www.avesinternational.com/lionfish.html

Venomous Fish
http://www.aqua.org/animals/species/prvenom.html

 

Scorpionfish Scorpaena brasilensis

National Aquarium in Baltimore
http://www.aqua.org/animals/species/seevenom.html

Distribution of the barbfish
http://www.reef.org/survey/species/524.htm

Stonefish Synanceia verrucosa

Reef Stonefish
http://www.aqua.org/animals/species/venom/reefstonefish.html

Venomous Fish
http://www.aqua.org/animals/animals/species/prvenom.html

 

LAND INVERTEBRATES:

Arboreal Tarantula Avicularia avicularia

Arboreal Tarantula/Pink Toe (Avicularia avicularia)
http://www.tarantulas.com/pinktoe.htm

Crystal Palace Reptiles - Arboreal Tarantula/Pink Toe (Avicularia avicularia)
http://freespace.virgin.net/darren.biggs/Caresheets/Inverts/Pink_toe.html

Pinktoe Tarantula Care Sheet
http://www.petbugs.com/caresheets/A-avicularia.html

Black Widow Laterodectus hesperus

Desert USA
http://www.desertusa.com/july97/du_bwindow.html

 

Death Stalker Scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus

Leiurus quinquestriatus picture
http://scorp.hypermart.net/pics/l_quinquestriatus2.jpg

Venom & Stings
http://wrbu.si.edu/www/stockwell/faq/sting.html

The Scorpions
http://www.insect-world.com/main/scorpionidae.html

 

Emperor Scorpion Pandinus imperator

Emperor Scorpion
http://www.ceismic.gatech.edu/zooary/zoo/arthropods/scorpion.html

Animal Fact Sheets
http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/scorpion/emperor.htm

 

Fire Worm Eurythoe complanata

Fireworm (Eurythoe complanata)
http://www.uab.edu/philosophy/faculty/kincaid/underwater/worm.htm

 

Giant Hairy Scorpion Hadrurus spadix

Scorpion Fauna of California
http://pw1.netcom.com/~wsavary/calscorps.html

Scott Stockwell Scorpion Photographs
http://wrbu.si.edu/WWW/Stockwell/photos/h_spadix(f).jpg

 

Goliath Bird Eater Theraphosa blondi

Arachnophiliac — Therapohosa blondi Care Sheet
http://www.arachnophiliac.com/burrow/caresheets/theraphosa_blondi.htm

Tarantula Planet
http://www.tarantulaplanet.org/gtleblondi.html
http://www.tarantulaplanet.org/speciestblondicaresheet.html

 

Oriental Tarantula Poecilotheria regalis

Indian Ornamental Tarantula (Poecilotheria regalis)
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/9170/p_regalis.html

Tarantula Planet - Tarantula Terminology
http://www.tarantulaplanet.org/terminology.html

 

South African Fat-tailed Scorpion Parabuthus transvaalensis

Dangerous scorpions
web.singnet.com.sg/~chuaeecc/venom/venom2.htm

Poisons and Toxins
http://melkor.unibe.ch:8080/philnat/benjamin.gantenbein.1/resources/poison.html

Sydney Funnel-Web Spider Atrax robustus

Clinical Toxinology- CSL Funnel Web Spider Antivenom
http://www.wch.sa.gov.au/paedm/clintox/cslavh_antivenom_funweb.html

Australian Museum Online - Funnel-web Spiders (Atrax robustus)
http://www.austmus.gov.au/is/sand/funnelwb.htm

Rochedale School Australia - Sydney Funnel Web Spiders
http://www.powerup.com.au/~glen/spider3.htm

Austaralasian Anaesthesia - Australian Spider and Insect Bites
http://www.usyd.edu.au/su/anaes/spiders.html

Velvet Ant

Michigan Entomological Society - Wanderers on the Sand–the Velvet Ants (Hymenoptera)
http://insects.ummz.Isa.umich.edu/MES/notes/entnotes11.html

National IPM Network — North Carolina - Velvet Ants (Hymenoptera)
http://ipmwww.ncsu.edu/AG268/html/velvet_ants.htm

Penn State University - Velvet Ant (Hymenoptera)
http://www.psu.edu/dept/beehive/P-gals/gallery3/hy22.html

Pittsylvania County Schools - Velvet Ant (Hymenoptera)
http://eclipse.dtl.pcs.k12.va.us/vtrail/velvetant.htm

University of Kentucky of Entomology - Velvet Ants
http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts/trees/ef442.htm

Manzanita Project — California Academy of Sciences
http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?where-taxon=Dasymutilla+sp.

Vietnamese Giant Centipede Scolopendra subpinipes

Scolopendra page
http://www.ilinkusa.- net/~100legs/

Urban Knowledge Master
http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/urban/Site/Centip.htm

 

MAMMALS

Solenodon Solenodon paradoxus

Solenodon paradoxus
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/solenodon/s._paradoxus.html

Haitian Solenodon
http://www.animalinfo.org/species/solepara.htm

 

Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus

Animal Diversity Web — University of Michigan
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/chordata/mammalia/monotremata/ornithorhynchidae.html

Creature World — Platypus
http://www.pbs.org/kratts/world/aust/plat/

Wildlife Information and Rescue Service Australia
http://www.streetnet.com.au/wires/3142.htm

 

Slow Loris Nycticebus coucang

Animal Diversity Web — University of Michigan
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/nycticebus/n._coucang$narrative.html

Duke Primate Center
http://www.duke.edu/web/primate/slowlor.html

Victoria’s Three Great Zoos
http://www.zoo.org.au/kids/mysteryanimal/mystery.html

 

Trowbridge Shrew Sorex trowbridgii

Mammals of Oregon
http://www.im.pdx.edu/~james/trowso.htm

Southern California Natural History
http://bio.lmu.edu/socal_nat_hist/mammals/inse/sore.htm

Biodiversity of the Truckee, Carson and Walker Watersheds
http://www.npr.unr.edu/conserve_species/trow_shrw.html

 

REPTILES:

Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix

Animal Diversity — University of Michigan
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/agkistrodon/a._contortrix$narrative.html

Georgia Wildlife Federation
http://www.gwf.org/library/wildlife/copper.htm

Massachussets Snakes
http://www.umass.edu/umext/snake/copper.html

Coral Snake Micrurus fulvius

Venoms — Coral Snake\
http://www.aqua.org/animals/species/venom/coralsnake.html

Florida Venomous Snakes
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herpetology/fl-guide/venomsnk.htm

Eastern Coral Snake
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/micrurus/m._fulvius$narrative.html

 

Gila Monster Heloderma suspectum

Animal Diversity Web
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/heloderma/h._suspectum$narrative.html

Gila Monster — Desert USA
http://www.desrtusa.com/sep97/du_gilamonster.html

Gila Monster
http://www.nashvillezoo.org/gila.htm

Manzanita Project — California Academy of Sciences
http://dlp.CS.Berkeley.EDU/cgi/img_query?where-taxon=Heloderma+suspectum

 

Inland Taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus

Inland Taipan
http://users.esc.net.au/~whitters/page4.html

Oxyuranus microlepidotus
http://www.uq.edu.au/~ddbfry/snakes/Oxyuranus/inland_summer.html

Inland Taipan
http://mag-nify.educ/monash/edu.au/acps99/inland.htm

Oxyuranus Taipans
http://www.uq.edu.au/~ddbfry/snakes/Oxyuranus/Oxyuranus.html

 

Mangrove Snake Boiga dendrophia

Oakland Zoo — Mangrove Snake
http://www.oaklandzoo.org/atoz/azmnsnke.html

Mangrove Snake — Utah’s Hogle Zoo
http://alt.xmission.com/~hoglezoo/reptiles/mangove.htm

 

Northern Pacific Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis oreganus

Care of the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake
http://www.pitvipers.com/crotalus/caresheets/orecare.html

Images — Manzanita Project (California Academy of Sciences)
http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?special
=browse&where-lifeform=Reptile&where-taxon=Crotalus+viridis+oreganus

Avoiding Wildlife Problems — Rattlesnakes (UC Davis)
http://atasteofeldorado.com/rattlesnakes.html

 

Rhinoceros Viper Bitis nasicornis

Reptiles of the Impenetrable Forest — Bob Drewes (California Academy of Sciences)
http://staging/research/herpetology/frogs/frogsimp/reptiles/e30.htm

WhoZoo — Ft. Worth Zoo
http://www.whozoo.org/Anlife99/jasonlip/rhinoviperindex.htm

Animal Diversity Web — University of Michigan
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/bitis/b._nasicornis

 

Scarlet Kingsnake Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides

Scarlet Kingsnake
http://www.uga.edu/~srel/scarlet_kingsnake.htm

Scarlet Kingsnake
http://home1.gte.net/mdg/Scarlet.html

 

Spitting Cobras

National Geographic — Dispatches from Myanmar
http://www.ngnews.com/news/1999/08/082599/myanmar_4976.asp

Malayan Cobra — Utah’s Hogle Zoo
http://www.xmission.com/~hoglezoo/reptiles/cobra.htm

Britannica Online - Cobras
http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/idxref/6/0,5716,303852,00.html


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