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Small but Lethal—5 Tiny Animals that could Kill You in the Blink of an Eye
It’s a fact that Mother Nature is diverse and has provided us with some of the most beautiful animals we could ever imagine. From majestic eagles to small ladybugs, nature has it all. Nature has shown us very different faces, and I’m sure she still has much more to offer.

Humanity has gotten used to living in big cities, away from the wild, where the rules are simple—Kill or be killed, as the idiom says. The strong prey on the weak, and one might think that the biggest in size are always the most dangerous predators. And here is nature again, proving us wrong. It’s not always giant bears, sharks or elephants. Sometimes, danger comes bottled—concentrated—in very, very small creatures. And they’re as deadly, or even deadlier, as any shark or grizzly bear could be.

And with no further ado, here’s a list of five times death on very small limbs.


5. Brazilian Wandering Spider
It belongs to the genus Phoneutria, meaning murderess in Greek. That should already give you a hint. Named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s most venomous spider, its bite contains a venom that boosts nitric oxide—a chemical that increases blood flow. This is why, in addition to intense pain, men can suffer a long, painful erection. Thankfully, there’s antivenom. They’re known to travel all over the world in international banana shipments, which gave them the nickname banana spider. The “wandering” part in their name comes from their hunting behaviour. Instead of catching their prey in webs, they kill on the ground, ambushing or directly attacking. 


4. Box Jellyfish
This square-shaped jellyfish kills more people than sharks, crocodiles and stonefish together. It outranks the Brazilian Wandering Spider, as it’s labelled as the world’s most venomous animal. Even if there’s no official tally, it’s been suggested that more than 100 people die due to box jellyfish stings each year. Their venom is so potent that it causes a sudden spike in blood pressure, which in turn makes the heart stop. Treatment for this? Maybe last minute CPR. What makes these jellyfish even more… special is that they have eyes—actual eyes—, and not just 2, but 24. They’re not very evolved, but it allows them to have a sight good enough to swim properly (and not just float around) and detect objects that get in their way.


3. Blue Ringed Octopus
It’s about as small as a golf ball, but it’s lethal. The Blue Ringed Octopus doesn’t release ink like other octopuses, but its bite contains a paralyzing toxin similar to puffer fish, and it can be often fatal if left untreated. One octopus can hold enough venom to kill 26 grown adults, and there is no antidote. Symptoms include numbness, muscular weakness, nausea and difficulty breathing. Later on, cardiac arrest that results in death. It’s important that the bitten person is transported to a hospital as soon as possible, because after a few hours, if medical care and artificial respiration is provided consistently, the body will neutralize the venom and the danger will be over. 


2. Poison Dart Frog
Stepping up the game, we now have 5cm of brightly coloured frog with enough poison to kill a large animal or a person. They come in about every colour as a means to keep predators away, signalising they impose a great danger—this is also known as aposematic coloration. And even if said colouring might have the opposite effect on humans, you don’t want to touch them, since the venom is stored within their skin. As a fun fact, the “dart” part in their name comes because indigenous cultures, such as the Chocó people of Colombia, have used the frogs’ poison to coat the tips of their arrows.  


1. Cone Snail
And on our number one spot, we have a snail that could fit in your shoe… and yeah, also kill you. One drop of venom from this thing is enough to put an end to 20 human lives. It’s kind of the underwater version of a very small tank, shooting harpoons that inject a cocktail of lethal toxins into the snails’ prey. The cone snail is also sometimes known as “cigarette snail”—as in, the amount of time you have from the moment it stings you until you stop breathing is just enough for you to smoke a cigarette. And, as you might have guessed, no, there is no antivenom.

All of these creatures usually stay in the wild, but the same way we go and visit the wild, sometimes, the wild comes to visit you at home, too. If you want to know more about what kind of animals have crossed the line, tune in to Urban Jungle, premiering in December on NatGeo!