What is the difference between venomous and poisonous animals?


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“Both venomous and poisonous animals produce a toxin that is injurious or even lethal to another organism. The real difference between the two terms involves how that toxin is delivered.”
Quote from below website:


Well, even if you eat the venom of a venomous snake you will likely be ok unless you have an open wound in your mouth or along the digestive tract. It needs to enter the blood stream to effectively cause damage.

Venoms are generally proteins and both digestive acids and heat will break them down.


As someone above said, as far as I understand snake venom can be safely ingested. Unless you had some sort of ulcer or open wound but that’s an assumption.


Ah, yes – one of my favorite old jokes:


Funny how neither poison or venom show up in mammals, even though they have evolved over and over for bacteria, protists, plants, insects, arachnids, amphibians, fish, and reptiles.


They exist.


See Fig. 1 (Poison in mammals) and Fig.2 (Venom in mammals), sir!

These also provide insight into why you really don’t want to ingest the former or be bitten by the latter.

Fig.1(note distinctive bad taste, suspected to be a protective adaptation)

Fig.2(observe fang threat display and prominent surface spikes)


“Poisons are any chemical substances that impact biological functions in other organisms.”

Ok, ok, so then what’s the difference between poison and venom?


Is this true? The person who taught me to catch and field prep rattlesnakes (which are delicious btw) was adamant about not puncturing the venom sacks (glands) or else you should discard the entire snake. Was this wrong?

Guess I’ll be doing some reading tonight.

edit: looked it up and it is mostly true, but strongly discouraged. also, it said many venoms can be absorbed in the mouth even without cuts. so i guess it is better safe then sorry.


Are stinging nettles venomous? What about bees?



Ya, I recall when I learned about platypus’ nasty spurs… They showed a guy whose arm was spurred – it was swollen and black (I don’t recall if he lost the arm)


Also Slow Lorises. They lick a gland on their forearm, which mixed their saliva and turns toxic before they bite you (and are thus venomous).

Yeah, you tickle that Slow Loris. It’s going to bite you with its arm wart, and then won’t you be sorry for encouraging illegal primate trade, eh?


The slow loris is the real pisser - it’s considered by some to be both venomous and poisonous.



Oh they exist all right, but there are a fair number of venomous animals whose venom is quite mild and little effort goes into delivering it. As the wikipedia article notes, there is some question as to whether a mammal can be called “venomous” in the absence of hollow fangs, stingers, and other specialized organs for the delivery of venom. Some people view just having something like toxic saliva as setting the bar too low to be called “venomous.”

An in those cases venom usually doesn’t seem to serve much of purpose, the species probably wouldn’t miss it if it were lost, the animal lacks behavior or markings to advertise it as being dangerous, other species in its environment don’t instinctively avoid it (and no look-alikes have evolved), there is no species in the genera that is notably toxic, and nobody’s ever gone to the trouble of developing an antivenom. I should have said that, but I’ve only had a few hours of sleep this week.


Probably because the venom of a big meaty rattlesnake snake is dangerous even to get on your skin. I’d think SOP would be to chop off the head and bury it since even the severed head can bite.


Spitting cobras are both venomous AND poisonous; they deliver their toxin by biting and/or by absorption (by spitting into their victim’s eyes). The original article title is correct if the monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia) is able to spit; it seems unclear whether or not this is the case.


And for many poisonous animals, their poison is accumulated from their food source, particularly insects and fish. Large barracuda are supposedly tasty but often quite toxic.