What is the Distinction Between Poison and Venom?

Are you fond of nature? Many children are! You might enjoy hiking, swimming, or perhaps gardening with your family. Regardless of the outdoor activity you enjoy, it is always crucial to stay safe and be aware of your surroundings. A single misstep could lead you straight into a patch of poison ivy!

If you have ever come into contact with poison ivy, you are well aware of how unpleasant it can be. However, there are also many other dangers to protect yourself from when you are in the great outdoors. Some of them are poisonous, and others are venomous!

You may be curious about the difference between poison and venom. You might hear people using these two words interchangeably. However, that is not entirely accurate.

Poison and venom do share similarities. They are both toxic and can cause mild to severe illness. In fact, venom is a type of poison. However, they are not the same thing.

The main distinction between poison and venom lies in the way they enter the body. When a person has to touch or ingest the toxin for it to harm them, it is considered poison. Examples of this include poison ivy, oak, and sumac. However, poison is not limited to plants. Animals can also be poisonous. Have you heard of the poison dart frog? Merely touching it can result in serious illness.

On the other hand, venom must be injected. Venomous animals always bite, sting, or pierce. This is how they use their venom to defend themselves. It enables them to eliminate any perceived threat. You are probably already familiar with many venomous animals, such as octopuses, scorpions, and various snakes.

However, many people are unaware that venomous animals do not always inject venom when they bite. This is because using venom requires energy for the animal. The venom is produced by special glands that the animal must activate in order to use it. Afterward, the animal must replenish its venom supply, either by producing more or by consuming other venomous animals.

Sometimes, venomous animals bite simply to intimidate a potential predator. In such cases, they may not use their venom. Instead, they save the toxin for a time when it may be truly necessary.

Some plants and animals are much more toxic than others. A rash from poison ivy is unpleasant, but it is preferable to ingesting deadly nightshade, which is one of the most toxic plants in the world. And of course, nobody wants to get stung by a bee. However, unless you are allergic to them, bee stings are generally harmless, unlike a sting from the Australian box jellyfish, which is the most venomous marine animal in the world.

Have you ever encountered a venomous animal up close? If one ever bites, stings, or pierces you, assume that it used venom. Seek immediate medical attention as they can help you protect yourself.

Give It a Try

Find a friend or family member to assist you with one or more of these activities:

Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants: Exploring the World of Toxins

Discover fascinating information about some of the most venomous animals on Earth. Consider the potential applications of their venom and share interesting facts with a friend or family member.

Take a closer look at the poisonous plants found in your local area by referring to this comprehensive guide. Describe at least one of these plants to a friend or family member, and stay vigilant!

Have you or someone you know ever encountered a venomous animal? If not, seek out someone who has and inquire about their experience. Document the details of their encounter and take notes on what to do if faced with a similar situation.

Useful Sources

  • https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science/whats-difference-between-poisonous-and-venomous-animals-180956186/ (accessed 26 Aug. 2019)
  • https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/venomous-or-poisonous-can-you-spot-the-difference/ (accessed 26 Aug. 2019)
  • https://www.britannica.com/list/7-of-the-worlds-deadliest-plants (accessed 26 Aug. 2019)
  • https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/what-is-the-difference-between-venomous-and-poisonous/ (accessed 26 Aug. 2019)
  • https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/box-jellyfish.html (accessed 26 Aug. 2019)

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