Popular Culture

10 Poisonous Animals in Your Backyard



Everyone knows there’s a plethora of lethal animals running around the planet.  But with so many living in obscure, unpopulated areas, there’s nothing to be worried about, right?  Think again, or you may never think again.  Plenty of them are hanging out in the backyards of the world — maybe even including yours.  Or maybe your cousin’s.  Either way, here’s another thing to be paranoid about.

Arizona Bark Scorpion



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The Arizona bark scorpion is a tiny little ball of death.  Only 2-3 inches in length, this small light brown scorpion is known for being the most venomous in all of North America.  When injected, its venom causes severe pain, loss of breathing, sensations of electrocution, immobilization, convulsions, paralysis and eventually death.  This scorpion is most common in Arizona, but only two people have died from its wrath since 1968. In Mexico, however, more than 100,000 people are stung each year with far higher fatality rates.  If you get stung by one, clean the sting site with soap and water, apply a cool compress (but no ice!) and take aspirin.  This may help… but ‘may’ is the key word here, so you should probably call someone, too. 

Deathstalker Scorpion



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 From the name alone, you know what the Deathstalker Scorpion is about.  This greenish-yellow scorpion has been owned for centuries as an exotic pet, but its venom contains an otherworldly combination of neurotoxins and doesn’t make a great cuddly companion.  While this combo of poisons wouldn’t kill a healthy adult human, it’s more than enough to do in young children, or old and sick people. Who needs em anyway?  In an ironic twist of fate, one part of the Deathstalker’s venom, peptide chlorotoxin, has shown potential in treating human brain tumors.  The Deathstalker is found stalking much of North Africa and the Middle East. 

Brazilian Wandering Spider



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Wandering, as in ‘wandering into your home and pumping you full of poison’.  These spiders are found in South and Central America, and have been rated the world’s most venomous spider by Guinness.  The Brazilian Wandering spider’s venom contains an extremely potent neurotoxin called PhTx3, which attacks a human’s neural synapses.  This causes paralysis and asphyxiation.  Just to make it scarier, its venom can also cause human genitals to swell uncontrollably, and in some cases cause irreparable genital damage. 

What makes this spider truly dangerous, however, is its propensity to wander.  The spider truly lives up to its name, and loves to hide in houses, cars, clothing, and even banana bunches (its nickname is “banana spider”). 

Coral Snake



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These snakes think they’re really color coordinated with their yellow and black and red;  they think they’re so cool.  Regardless of what you think, you better respect them too… unless you want to be one of the 5-15 people the Coral snake kills each year.  It especially hates being called a hipster. Luckily for us, both hipsters’ and the Coral snake’s first instinct is to flee, and it only bites as a last resort.  The ‘last resort’ entails 75-100 mg of its venom which will most likely put an end to the receiver.  If you’re playing in a backyard somewhere in North Carolina, Louisiana or Florida (to name a few) keep an eye out for this wily critter. â€¨ 

Texas Recluse



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The Texas Recluse is a mysterious spider found in states like Texas, Ohio and Georgia, as well as in Mexico.  It’s only 1 to 1.5 inches long, making it very difficult to spot.  To make it worse they have a yellowish-brown or tan coat, helping them blend into the Texas landscape.  Little is known about the Texas Recluse’s venom, but its bite is believed to be necrotic in nature.  This means that the Recluse’s bite causes severe damage to skin and surrounding tissue, leaving a decaying, zombie-esque lesion that heals at an extremely slow rate.  The Recluse often hides in bedding or clothing, giving it the perfect vantage to bite an unsuspecting human.  Their bites can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, shock, and death.   

Black Widow



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This is the one you’ve heard of, the one that gets all the press.  It is incredibly small, yet extraordinarily deadly.  Found throughout the United states as well as in Mexico and the West Indies, this spider is considered the Hulk Hogan of all poisonous spiders.  Or Brook Hogan, since only the female contains venom.  The smaller male is harmless.   

Black Widows are nocturnal, defensive biters.  They don’t look for trouble, but if you accidentally waltz into one of their webs you may feel their wrath.  Deaths from this bite are rare, however the spider is not.  Of all venomous spiders, the Black Widow has the largest geographical range, allowing it to crawl into backyards of people across the Americas.   

Black Widow’s venom is neurotoxic, and contains toxins such as Latrotoxin, Polypeptides and Adenosine.  These toxins cause painful cramps, interfere with breathing and shut down areas of the body.  Keep an eye out for the Widow’s telltale hourglass web and avoid it at all costs.

Hobo Spider



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This spider has a very interesting name, but save your charity.  The Hobo Spider lives primarily in the Northwestern United States, as well as Canada, Europe and Asia. 
Like Recluse Spiders, the Hobo Spider delivers a walloping necrotic bite.  It typically bites to protect its egg sac, but is generally not aggressive.  Its bite can lead to painful, slowly-healing skin lesions, and in some extreme cases necrosis.  This means premature death of living cells, and can cause terrible rot in the area around a bite (zombie patches). 

Write your congressman, and tell them there are too many Hobo Spiders — someone needs to do something about it!  Get these filthy mongrels off the streets once and for all.

Tiger Rattlesnake



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This snake has a badass name but is absolutely zero fun to hang out with.  Common in the southwestern US and Northwestern Mexico, the Tiger Rattlesnake grows no larger than 100 cm, and has a gray, lavender, pinkish coat; these stripes earned the snake its name.  Tiger rattlesnakes heads are smaller than their fat, scary rattles. 

The yield of the Tiger Rattlesnake’s venom is low, but its toxicity is considered the highest among rattlesnake venoms.  Being bitten by the snake will produce unwanted results (as most venom does), and should be seen as a life-threatening emergency.  

Eastern Brown Snake



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This is a foreign snake found in backyards in Australia and New Guinea.  It’s large (1.5-1.8m), and generally a camouflage brown color with red-brown spots on its belly.  Unlike some of these other poisonous animals, the Eastern Brown Snake is known for its speed and aggression.  To make matters worse, the Eastern Brown Snake loves eating rodents, drawing it towards farms and homes. 

When agitated, this snake will not hesitate to administer a bite which causes blood coagulants, diarrhea, dizziness, convulsions, paralysis and cardiac arrest.  Without treatment, the bite can be fatal.  This snake is considered the second most venomous snake on earth. 

In 2007, a 9-year-old girl named Milena Swilks was bitten by an Eastern Brown Snake in rural New South Wales.  She collapsed, was taken to a hospital unconscious, and died two hours later.  â€¨ â€¨ 

Fattail Scorpion



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Last but certainly not least is the Fattail Scorpion.  Found throughout the Middle-East and Africa, this is one of the most dangerous scorpions on earth.  You get a hint from its name, because scorpions always hold their venom in their tails, so if the tail is fat… you get the drift.  In latin, their name is Androctonus, which means “man-killer.” 

Once again, this scorpion loves to hide in and around backyards, often burrowing itself into a wall, awaiting an unsuspecting victim. 

Their venom is incredibly potent, containing many neurotoxins.  Giant pharmaceutical companies manufacture an antivenom for this guy, which lets you know its poison is respected.  Each year the Fattail Scorpion is responsible for several deaths, and it doesn’t feel bad about them at all.


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