Venomous vs. poisonous… What’s the difference?
November 24, 2015
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One of the most frequent questions I receive as a snake catcher is “is this snake poisonous”. Well, in Australia at least, the answer is always NO..

Australia has a large number of venomous snakes (140 including seasnakes actually) but a total of 0 poisonous ones. It does however have poisonous animals, the cane toad for example, just not snakes.

So what is the difference?

The most simplistic definition is that the toxins in something poisonous are effective when ingested  or inhaled while venom must be introduced to the blood stream. Snakes venom requires direct injection or absorption (through the eyes for example) to ‘envenomate’ and is inert if swallowed. Conversely, a cane toads toxins are effective if swallowed, made devastatingly clear by the high death tolls on most of Australia’s native predatory fauna that decide to eat it.

I hope I have made the distinction between venomous and poisonous clear but please post any further questions or comments you may have.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment

  1. […] are dangerously venomous and notoriously skittish and should be treated with caution. Their venom contains a mixture of potent parasynaptic and postsynaptic neurotoxins (can cause paralysis and […]

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