6 of the Most Innocent-Looking Animal Assassins

These little creatures may look cute and cuddly. Until they melt you with their nuclear venom or feast on, say, your bladder. Snails, insects and other small animals often appear to be harmless, but many tiny creatures around the world are capable of delivering a deadly knock-out to the unsuspecting human who crosses their path, as if to compensate for their insignificant size. Read on to be amazed – and consider yourself warned!


(Images via wikimedia, damn interesting and eyes on brazil)

Did you hear the one about the Amazonian fish who swam up a penis, took up residence in said penis owner’s bladder, and could not be extracted due to its umbrella-like spines? It ate away at the man until he hemorrhaged. Wait a minute, somebody check Snopes! That’s clearly an urban legend, right? Wrong. The Candiru fish actually can swim into…ahem…southern apertures, although it’s much more likely for women to be at risk than men for obvious reasons (it would have to be an awfully determined fish and a rather drunk male). Though evidence of candiru extraction surgeries are mostly secondhand, enough discussion exists in the scientific body of literature to confirm the dreadful possibility. (Legends of penectomy are almost certainly false, however.) The slick, slim, small Candiru frequently lodge themselves in larger fish and animals and are nearly impossible to remove. (By the way, there are actually far more poisonous fish in the world than there are snakes. Just something to think about.) The moral of the story: don’t pee in the Amazon. Also, don’t f*ck with fish.

Bullet Ant

(Image via barrogten)

The unimpressive-looking but accurately named bullet ant doesn’t get much traction in the poisonous animal archives of the interwebs, but one of our staff has a first-hand account that is truly horrifying. On a scientific expedition to Costa Rica, the professor warned the group of being bitten by the ubiquitous bullet ant which could allegedly knock out a grown man for hours from the intense, burning pain. Days passed, fear subsided, and everyone forgot about the bullet ant. Until a piercing howl echoed through the forest and into the small lab where the students were working. “Somebody just got a bullet,” said the professor knowingly. Next day, the group saw the unfortunate man: his hand was a red and brown mass of inflamed flesh. Of course he lived to tell the tale, but it wasn’t pretty. Wikipedia confirms the agony that is the bite of the bullet ant. Locals call it the 24 hour ant, owing to the fact that a single bite delivers a full day of tortuous, throbbing pain. In some Central and South American cultures, young men are initiated into manhood by enduring up to 5 bullet ant stings at once. Moving along…

Blue Ringed Octopus

(Image via techhouse)

One of the tiniest, cutest cephalopods on earth is also the last octopus you ever want to encounter. When frightened or threatened, the blue ringed octopus – which measures just a few centimeters in size – brightens its blue rings and proffers a painless warning bite. You skip away, thinking you’re fine…until you’re seized with paralysis and death in short order. The blue ringed octopus, which graciously inhabits tide pools and shallow tropical waters, actually possesses a neurotoxic venom that is more violent than any land creature on earth. Good times!

Cone Snail

(Image via wikimedia)

The cone snail or cone shell looks like an innocuous, pretty sea shell. But the cone snail, along with its 400 genetic cousins, can inject you with a painful dose of venom through its harpoon, as many a tourist has learned the hard way. Conveniently, salt water makes the pain even more excruciating, and paralysis often results. Soon after, respiration is no longer possible. This means you die.

Poison Dart Frog

(Images via photo.net and hiltonpond)

The poison dart frog is the only animal that can kill a human merely by being touched. Indigenous Americans have long used the slime of the poison dart frog’s skin on their arrows (hence the name). It’s an effective slayer of monkeys and people alike. The frogs’ skin emits a violently potent toxin that causes paralysis, internal bleeding, organ failure and death. According to Dark Roasted Blend, the tiny creatures (usually just 1/2 inch in length) can jump 50 times their length. If humans had that kind of jumping capability, we’d be able to clear Home Depot’s parking lot in a single bound. Poison dart frogs come in a range of brilliant combinations of intense colors but what they have in common is deadly cuteness. Kind of like your last girlfriend.

Hooded Pitohui

(Image via ibaraki)

Great, so from now on you’ll be avoiding all bodies of water and forests. You’ll want to avoid birds, as well. Yes, there are poisonous birds, so think twice before casting off your crumbs. Scientists have learned only recently that many bird species contain venom in their feathers, skin and beaks. The hooded pitohui is one of the most dangerous birds in this respect; the people of Papau New Guinea call it the “garbage bird” due to its unpleasant smell and flesh. Consumption of the flesh can make you very sick. The hooded species of pitohui has a toxin known as batrachotoxin in its feathers and dander. This toxin is most similar to one other creature on earth. That would be our friend the poison dart frog.


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