Poisonous vs Venomous Animals | What’s the Difference?!

There are no spiders in the world that are poisonous due to their bite. Since this site is primarily about spiders, I just wanted to get that out of the way up front.

Spiders that rely on venom to paralyze their prey are venomous spiders, but these spiders are not poisonous.

Spiders have fangs and carry venom to inject into their prey. This venom can be toxic to humans, but it is not poisonous to humans.

What does this mean for the average person? Does it matter if spiders are poisonous or venomous?

Yes, it does matter because there are significant differences between venom and poison.

Let’s dive in and learn the differences!

Poisonous vs Venomous

Poisonous and venomous are terms that are often used interchangeably by many people. Even though poison and venom can be toxic to humans, these terms have distinct differences.

When referring to something being poisonous, the term means that it would be toxic for you to ingest whatever is referred to as poisonous.

Poisonous vs Venomous

Poisonous animals and insects release toxins into the human body as they are ingested. Some animals are even poisonous to touch and can be dangerous to humans just by direct contact.

When referring to something being venomous, the term means that it would be toxic for you to get bitten or stung by whatever is referred to as venomous.

Venomous animals and insects inject toxins into the body by using teeth, fangs, or stingers.

Poisonous and venomous do not mean the same thing. Most people just use both terms when attempting to describe both poisonous and venomous animals.

Many people just use both terms as meaning something dangerous to humans. When people hear poisonous or venomous, they associate it with some type of danger and that is why both words are used interchangeably and mean the same thing to a lot of us.

What Animals Are Poisonous?

There are many animals and insects that are poisonous to consume and some can even be poisonous to just touch. Let’s discuss some of these poisonous animals and insects.


Birds like common quails and spur-winged geese can be poisonous to humans, but that mainly depends on their diet and what they eat.

In the majority of these cases, a person would fall ill after eating one of these birds that had consumed poisonous plants or seeds as part of its diet.

Some people that consumed these birds had no symptoms while others would get sick. So the diet of the birds is actually what was thought to be the cause of humans falling ill after eating one.


Some species of octopuses and cuttlefish are known to be poisonous to humans. Blue-ringed octopuses are highly venomous and poisonous at the same time, so you definitely want to stay away from this species if you encounter one at tide pools and coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans.


Some types of coral produce a highly toxic venom called palytoxin. Not that coral is on the main dinner plates of most people, just something to keep in your mind if you are around coral.

Something as simple as a scratch may put you at risk to allow certain viruses and toxins to enter your body, so it is better to be safe than sorry as they say.


Some fish and marine life are poisonous to humans like blowfish, grey sharks, and pufferfish. Barracudas can also be poisonous to humans, depending on their age and diet.

Some fish that contain toxins are still eaten around the world. But in order to do so, certain precautions are taken like boiling and removing certain parts to ensure the meat is safe to consume.

I personally just stay away from any “food” that has known toxins present except for salmon.

But a lot of salmon consumption (more than 2 to 3 servings per week) is required over a period of time to get sick from mercury, so I don’t mind taking that risk because I don’t eat it that often.

Frogs and Toads

Many frogs and toads can be poisonous to consume and touch. Many of us know about poison dart frogs and how poisonous they can be to humans.

But there are many toads – including common toads, American toads, Asiatic toads, and more – that can be toxic to humans. Some can even kill humans and have no anti-venom available.

It is best to keep frogs and toads off your dinner menu and not touch any that you encounter just to be safe.


Insects like blister beetles along with certain moth and butterfly species are known to be poisonous to humans.

Some of the insects carry their own poison while others get poison from their diets consisting of poisonous plants and seeds.


Certain salamanders carry the biotoxin tetrodotoxin, which is a potent neurotoxin. This is the same toxin found in species of pufferfish, porcupinefish, triggerfish, and more.

All species within the genus Taricha possess this toxin. The toxicity just depends on the species, but the rough-skinned newt is the most toxic of all the species.


Certain species of snakes can also be poisonous to humans. Garter snakes that consume poisonous newts can be dangerous for humans to consume.

Keelback snakes are both venomous and poisonous. They carry venom that can be dangerous to humans when bitten, but their diets also consist of poisonous toads.

Since their diets also consist of poison and they have this poison secreting from their saliva glands, these snakes can be poisonous to touch or ingest by humans.

Dangerous Poisonous Animals

What Animals Are Venomous?

There are many animals and insects that are venomous to humans by either biting or stinging humans. Let’s discuss some of these venomous animals and insects.


Some species of centipedes are dangerous to humans when they get bitten by these arthropods. A bite from a centipede can be very painful and can cause symptoms of swelling, fevers, and chills.

However, bites are generally mild and don’t have a lasting effect on people unless they are allergic to bee stings and other insect bites.

The danger to smaller children is higher, but for adult humans, there is very little risk of any serious illness from centipede bites.


A jellyfish stings using microscopic cells called nematocysts. Jellyfish stings are used to incapacitate prey and are also used as a defense mechanism against predators.

Severe box jellyfish stings can be fatal to humans and trigger cardiac arrest within a matter of minutes after the sting occurs.

Other jellyfish stings may not be deadly but you may still experience severe pain and irritation on and around the area of the sting.


The list of insects that have the capability to inject venom into humans with fangs and stingers is a long list. Some insects that cause humans harm include bees, wasps, fire ants, and hornets – among many others.

Many insects have stingers to inject venom but some use fangs instead of stingers. Some insects are not poisonous but still have potential risks for humans.

These insects may carry diseases that are harmful to humans, such as mosquitos with West Nile Virus and encephalitis but have no actual venom.


Cone snails carry a neurotoxic venom called conotoxins which is toxic to humans. Cone snails have a harpoon-shaped tooth that is used to inject their venom into prey.

All cone snails are venomous, but the toxicity of the venom varies from species to species.


Scorpions deliver a very painful sting through the stingers on their abdomens. There are more than a thousand known species of scorpions that humans have encountered.

However, only a very small percentage of scorpion species are actually dangerous to humans. Bark scorpions are one of the most dangerous scorpion species known to humans.


Whenever poison and venom are mentioned, snakes are almost always a part of the conversation. There are many different species of snakes that pose a risk to humans due to their venom.

Some of the most notable snake species that are a danger to humans include cobras, copperheads, coral snakes, death adders, mambas, rattlesnakes, and vipers.


If snakes aren’t in the conversation about poison and venom, spiders are usually the second most popular topic of conversation. Almost all spiders carry venom, but only a minuscule percentage of spider species pack enough potent venom to do harm to humans.

Some of the most notable spiders that are a danger to humans include black widows, brown widows, brown recluses, Brazilian wandering spiders, sand spiders, Sydney funnel-web spiders, and wolf spiders.

Dangerous Venomous Animals

What Animals Can Kill You by Poison?

There are many different animals and insects that can kill you with poison. In order for an animal to kill you with poison, you would have to ingest (eat) it.

In some cases, just touching the animal is enough to be poisoned.

Animals that can kill you from poison include:

  • Barracudas
  • Blister beetles
  • Bullfrogs
  • Comb stars
  • Hooded pitohui
  • Polar bears
  • Pufferfish
  • Rough-skinned newts
  • Striated surgeonfish
  • Tiger snakes

This is only a small sample of the many different animals and insects that can cause you serious bodily harm and death from the toxins found within their bodies.

What Animals Can Kill You by Venom?

The list of animals and insects that can kill you with venom from a sting or a bite is a long list as well. Below are some of the most notable animals and insects that can kill humans by injecting their venom through bites or stings.

Animals that can kill you from venom include:

  • Black mambas
  • Blue-ringed octopuses
  • Box jellyfish
  • Fish like lionfish and stonefish
  • Marbled cone snails
  • Scorpions like death stalkers and fat-tailed scorpions
  • Other snakes like cobras, rattlesnakes, taipans, and vipers
  • Spiders like black widows, funnel-web, and wandering spiders

There are many more animals and insects that pose significant risks to humans.

Some of these animals pose risks due to how toxic their venom is while others pose risks to certain people that have allergic reactions to the venom that is injected into their bodies from these animals.


Now that you know the difference between the terms poisonous and venomous, you can distinguish which animals are which.

However, some animals can be both venomous and poisonous at the same time.

In this article, we learned that poison and venom are both toxic, but have different meanings based on the way they enter the human body (through bite, touch, sting, or ingestion).

We also learned that although there is a distinction between the terms “poisonous” and “venomous”, most people just use them interchangeably to mean something dangerous.

Now, you can correct people and let them know the difference when the terms are used incorrectly.

That’s all I have for venom and poison. If you enjoyed this article, check out some other articles about spider body parts.