When you think of a venomous animal, you probably think of snakes first, or perhaps other reptiles or amphibians. At the very least, mammals probably don’t immediately come to mind. That may be because venomous mammals are so rare. Read on to learn about eight mammals who hide painful stings and bites behind their fuzzy cuteness.
The male platypus possesses a spur on each of its hind limbs that it uses during mating season to deliver venom. Platypus venom is not lethal to humans, and it doesn’t cause tissue necrosis like snake venom can, but it is excruciatingly painful. Pain can linger for days, weeks or even months, in some cases, and does not respond to morphine.
Some shrews, but not all, are venomous. American short-tailed shrews, Eurasian water shrews, Mediterranean water shrews and northern short-tailed shrews all deliver venomous bites. It is thought that shrews evolved the ability to use venom in order to hunt larger prey and also for incapacitating prey to store as a live food source during the winter.
There are two species of solenodon: the Cuban solenodon and the Hispaniolan solenodon. Solenodons are similar in appearance to large shrews and like some shrews, both species have venomous bites. Neither species is immune to its own venom and competing solenodons have been observed to die from bite wounds after fighting.
Slow lorises have an unusual way of delivering their venom. They produce the venom from glands on the insides of their elbows. To deliver it, they lick the area in order to venomize their bites. The “venom” is actually a concentrated protein that acts as an allergen and is similar in composition to cat allergens. Only certain species are allergic to loris bites.
Vampire bats are so named because they subsist on the blood of their prey and the toxic saliva of certain vampire bats is an important part of their blood consumption. This “venom” does not itself kill the prey, but it acts as an anti-coagulating agent that makes the victim’s blood easier to eat and digest.
Next: The Cutest Weird Animals
Hedgehogs get a special mention because although they do not produce venom, they have been observed to use venom in their defenses. That is, they use venom from other animal sources. Some hedgehogs chew on the skin of poisonous toads and then use the toad venom to coat their own spines. Who knew that hedgehogs were such stone-cold little warriors?
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