Blog

Venomous vs. Poisonous

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: At The Museum, Date: 14 Sep 2011

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between organisms that are venomous and those that are poisonous.

 

Cane Toad

Emma Gray © Australian Museum

Venomous organisms use toxins which are injected into other animals either through the teeth, glands within the mouth or a sting. Venomous animals may use venom to capture prey or for defence. Venomous animals can be safely eaten if care is taken to avoid the venom glands but do not try this at home (or in a restaurant)! Some people will have a more severe reaction to some venoms which may not cause a reaction in other people.

Like many groups of plants, many animals have evolved toxins which can harm or kill a potential predator if they are eaten or touched.

The dangers of poisonous animals are easy to avoid by not eating or touching them! However this may be more difficult when you have young children or pets...

For more on venomous and poisonous animals get DangerOz, our new App about Australia’s most dangerous animals, released in the App Store on Tuesday, 20th September.