21 May 2010

Tiny animals that can kill you

When we think of dangerous animals, we think of lions, tigers, bears and sharks, but there are several small animals that can do just as much damage, or worse, to us. In fact, there are several small animals that can kill us. No, we are not talking about spiders and snakes, that is too obvious. What we are talking about is small animals, fish and amphibians that can kill you with something as simple as a touch.

1. The Puffer Fish

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The Puffer Fish is a cute fish that many divers will seek out, but there is more to this fish than puffing up. The Puffer Fish is the second-most poisonous vertebrate in the entire world. This little fish packs a big poisonous punch due to the fact that both its skin and internal organs are highly toxic. Oddly enough, in Japan the fish is a delicacy and many cooks are specially trained in order to know what is safe and what will kill you. Fishing for this fish can also be dangerous and thick gloves must be worn when handling the fish.

The fish most commonly poisons people when it is served in puffer shop that has not been prepared properly. If you eat this fish, you will find your tongue will go numb, followed by the feeling of dizziness and vomiting. Then, your body will feel prickly as your heart rate increases and your blood pressure drops dramatically. Your muscles will then become paralyzed and you will die from suffocation due to the fact that your diaphragm muscles are no longer moving. One bit of trivia is that the Puffer Fish poison is used in Voodoo to create zombies, or at least legend has it that is the case.

2. Golden Poison Frog

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The most poisonous vertebrate in the world is the Golden Poison Frog. Named for the fact that it has a golden color, and that it is poisonous, this animal secretes poison through its skin that can drop you like a hat. Natives in the forests of Colombia’s would use the poison of this frog on their darts. If you were to touch this frog, the nerves in your body would not be able to transmit impulses, which would then put you in an inactive condition because your muscles are not able to move. This would then lead to heart failure. This poison is so potent that dogs and chickens have actually died from touching a paper towel on which the frog has just walked.

An average does of poison from this frog contains about one milligram of poison, which can kill 10,000 mice, 10 to 20 humans, or two African bull elephants. One gram of poison from this frog could kill as many as 15,000 humans.

3. Candiru

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If you are a man, don’t read this, seriously, this little animal is small and it can cause you a lot of pain. Also called the Toothpick Fish, the Candiru is native to the Amazon River and only grows to about six inches in length. What makes this Candiru so dangerous is that it can move up the human urethra, where it lodges itself thanks to its barbs and it cannot be removed easily, or painlessly. No, the Candiru will not kill you but having it surgically removed from your urethra seems bad enough, so we thought we might as well include it here.

There are probably a few people out there who would rather die by poison than go through the horrible pain that comes from the Candiru and its lovely tendency to go up the urethra.

4. Blue-Ringed Octopus

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The Blue-Ringed Octopus is a beautifully colored octopus that lives in tide pools between Japan and Australia. It is small, docile and cute. Oh, it is also one of the most venomous animals in the world and if provoked it will bite humans, especially when big humans step on it. While the octopus is only five inches in length, it has enough venom to kill 26 humans, and we have no antidote for the venom. The Blue-Ringed Octopus has the same type of venom found in the Puffer Fish. It causes muscles paralysis, which then induces respiratory arrest within only a few minutes from being bit. This then leads to cardiac arrest because of the lack of oxygen in the body. After that, you are dead because you stepped on something that was smaller than a pencil.

5. Cone Snail

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You are out for a walk and you decide to do some snorkeling in the ocean. While swimming, you find that there is a beautiful little shell within a few feet of you. Thinking it would be perfect for your collection; you reach down and grab it. Suddenly, pain erupts in your hand and you drop the shell back in the water. Congratulations! You have just been stung by a Cone Snail!

The Cone Snail shells are very popular because of their nice geometric cone shapes that feature colorful patterns on them. The snail itself may have bit you with its harpoon tooth. It is like a hollow dart and it injects toxins into your hand when you grab it. This is why these snails should be handled so carefully because the hollow dart can fire in any direction and there is sometimes more than one dart. The venom within these darts can be very serious and has been known to be fatal to humans. Cone Snails contain the same type of poison found in Puffer Fish and Blue-Ringed Octopuses.

There are many different kinds of animals out there that can kill you. The number of snakes, insects and spiders that can kill you will leave you awake at night wondering what may be moving around you. When we think of dangerous animals, we think of these animals. We think of rhinos, tigers, lions and more. We think of creatures that can eat us and hurt us. We wouldn’t pet a shark, but we do try and grab a shell that can kill us. We wouldn’t hug a bear, but we may try to touch a small octopus. We wouldn’t pull a lion’s tail, but we may try and pet a beautiful golden frog.

This just shows how dangerous the animals around the world are and that being small does not mean you are not strong. The animals mentioned here were small but very mighty. Do not go around petting tree frogs in Colombia, and do not pick up shells or octopuses that look pretty but can kill you.

These creatures are small, but they are very dangerous, so beware!

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