As a child, you’ve probably been warned not to touch anything that you don’t recognize. Your parents undoubtedly worried that your sense of wonder may put you in harm’s way.
That fear isn’t entirely unfounded. There are many creatures and plants that exist which may appear harmless, sweet-tempered, or even beautiful from the exterior but in actuality are highly toxic and dangerous.
We’ve compiled a list of eight creatures and plants that may look innocent – but don’t let them fool you. They can be highly dangerous at best, lethal at worst.
1. Slow loris. This bug-eyed creature may look innocent, but looks can be deceiving. According to World of Animals, the loris has toxic glands that are hidden on their elbows. When threatened, lorises will lick these glands to lace their bites with poison. For humans allergic to the toxin, these bites can be extremely dangerous. There has been one reported case of death by anaphylactic shock due to slow loris poison, according to The American Journal of Tropical Medicine.
2. Palm trees. You might not have thought about this one before, but consider it. Palm trees can grow up to 30 meters high, while its fruit can weigh over 3 pounds. Palm fronds can also pose a risk. In 2014, NBC4 reported that neighbors living on Palm Grove Avenue in the West Adams District of Los Angeles are anxious over their safety as a result of overgrown palm trees that loom over their homes. Palm fronds can weigh hundreds of pounds. That same year, a man from East L.A. was killed when several palm fronds fell on him as he was taking a walk.
3. Geese. They may look like harmless farm animals but don’t be fooled, geese are not as friendly and cuddly as they appear. Just take a look at the picture below – they have all those teeth for a reason. According to Geese Relief, geese can be incredibly protective and aggressive, particularly when they’re waiting for their eggs to hatch. For instance, according to CBC News, one resident of Ottawa, Canada was attacked by a goose and suffered a severe concussion, broken cheekbone, and facial lacerations. In fact, some breeds are even used as guard animals.
4. Rosary pea. Hopefully, you were taught to avoid eating anything that looks unfamiliar. This philosophy should definitely be applied to rosary peas. It might be hard to believe, but one of these tiny seeds can cause serious damage. According to Wikipedia, abrin, which is an extremely toxic toxalbumin that can be found in the seeds of the rosary pea, is so poisonous that some tribes use them as venomous weapons. Abrin is one of the most fatal toxins on Earth and ingesting a single seed is enough to kill you, states Mother Nature Network.
5. Chipmunks and/or squirrels. This is another hard-to-believe fact because these furry little critters seem harmless. They inhabit parks and normally they are not aggressive. However, Critter Control states that you should never try to feed them because if they feel threatened they could bite you. Although their bite is not venomous, they are known to carry various diseases like salmonella, encephalitis, and rabies.
6. Platypus. The platypus is another animal whose adorable appearance may disarm you; but beware, this cute creature is poisonous. Their venomous ankle spurs (which are not fatal to humans), can cause a level of pain so excruciating it cannot be relieved with traditional painkillers and could even leave its victim incapacitated. According to Discover Magazine, scientists have determined that platypus venom contains over 80 different toxins in 13 different classes. The poison can kill small animals and leave humans in pain for several weeks.
7. Water hemlock. Cicuta, commonly known as water hemlock, may look pretty but they pack a deadly punch. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the water hemlock is the most violently toxic plant in North America. They also cite several signs to indicate poisoning including nervousness, excessive salivation and frothing, muscle twitching, dilation of the pupils, rapid pulse, and tremors, among others. Although it can be easily mistaken for parsnip or parsley, the entire plant, including its flowers, is poisonous. The water hemlock is so toxic that you will die within hours of ingesting it.
8. Blue-ringed octopuses. Its pattern may be mesmerizing, but that’s part of its lethality. The blue-ringed octopus can be found in tide pools and coral reefs in various regions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Japan to Australia. According to Ocean Conservancy, although their bites seem harmless since they’re usually small and painless, they can have a dire effect on the health of its victim. In fact, the painless bite could cause victims to be unaware they’ve been poisoned until they begin to experience respiratory arrest. This octopus produces venom 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide and is more toxic than that of any land mammals. Despite its small size, the blue-ringed octopus carries enough venom to kill twenty-six adult humans within minutes, states Ocean Conservancy.