Poisonous vs Venomous: Difference and Comparison

All organisms on Planet Earth have evolved very differently from each other, with different feeding, attack, and defense mechanisms.

Still, a lot of reptilians and other organisms, including plants, who don’t have much size or strength, resort to a more silent and much deadlier strategy that is producing toxins.

Key Takeaways

  1. Poisonous refers to substances that can cause harm when ingested or touched, while venomous refers to animals that inject venom into their prey or predators.
  2. Poisonous substances can be found in plants, animals, and minerals, while venomous animals include snakes, spiders, and scorpions.
  3. Poisonous substances can cause harm even when the organism is not threatened, while venomous animals use their venom for self-defence or to catch prey.

Poisonous vs Venomous

The term “poisonous” refers to a substance or organism that can cause harm, injury, or death to living beings if ingested, absorbed, or injected. Venomous refers to an animal or organism that is capable of injecting venom, a toxic substance, into another organism through fangs, spines, or stingers.

Poisonous vs Venomous

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Otherwise, weak animals develop poisonous substances to detest predators from consuming them. The most potent poison is the Botulinum Toxin, naturally developing in food substances in certain conditions, even 1.3 nanograms can kill a human.

The most poisonous animal is the deep-sea pufferfish which contains tetrodotoxin, a poison for which there is no antidote.

Venomous animals or plants are predatory in nature and use their poison for hunting, paralyzing, and eating prey in order to consume them.

Snakes are the most common venom-bearing animals with the inland Taipan snake being the most venomous. Indian Red Scorpion and the Box Jellyfish are more examples of venom-using animals.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPoisonousVenomous
ObjectivePoison is used as a defense mechanism by creatures in order to fend off predators and help perpetual survival.Venom is used as a tool of offense, like a weapon. Predators use it for hunting and killing prey.
AnimalsPoison-dart frogs, newts, and blue-ringed octopuses are the most poisonous animals in the world.Most species of Snakes, Scorpions, fishes, and spiders contain venom. In mammals, shrews are venomous.
Method of ingestionPoison using animals have toxins on their skin or organ tissues.Venom is stored in stingers and fangs in order for predators to inject it with a bite or a sting.
EffectMost poisons use chemical interference in natural body processes to injure or cause paralysis, even death.Venom is directly injected into muscles and the bloodstream therefore it works instantly compromising brain and organ activity.
AnalogyPoisonous organisms do not attack through poison and one suffers poisoning if they consume them.Venomous organisms actively attack prey and one suffers their consequences if they get bitten.

What is Poisonous?

A poison is a substance that is capable of producing harmful effects on our body and can be even fatal. It damages our living tissues and cells and has effects on brain activity as well.

Poison can occur in any form, such as gas, liquid, solid, and even radiation. Any substance causing physical harm is poison.

Poisonous organisms have toxins in their tissues and on their skin which, when ingested, are absorbed by the intestines from where it travels through the bloodstream to other organs.

It can then interfere with natural chemical reactions and kill cells and tissues or organs, causing diseases or even death.

 Most poisonous animals have evolved to produce poisons in their body to deter predators from consuming them. This method has proved to be pretty effective, with even some plants like the pink oleander and coral tree being poisonous.

Poisons can also be used, if harvested properly, to make antivenoms and medicines. The study of toxins and their effects on the human body is called toxicology.

Botulinum toxin, the most deadly poison in the world, is used in cosmetics as a muscle-paralyzing agent to stop wrinkling.


What is Venomous?

Venom is basically a toxin or a poison made by an organism for use on other organisms to cause harm and consume them or make them unable to harm the maker of the venom.

Venomous animals inject their venom into prey or intruders using stings and fangs.

Evolution has given poison glands to animals that are venomous where poison is produced and stored for use, and most natural venoms are concentrated liquids where even a drop is very harmful.

Venoms enter the bloodstream directly and, therefore, can prove to be very fast in taking effect.

Snakes produce some of the most potent types of venom in the world, about 600 snake species are venomous, and the inland Taipan is the most venomous.

All spiders are also venomous, but their venom is not fatal and mostly only causes fever, cold, shivering, and swelling of the bitten area.

Antivenoms are substances designed from venoms to counteract venoms, and toxicology is the study of venoms and their applications in the human world.

Medicines are also formed by using certain toxins and using their effect in a positive and controlled manner.

The best advice to a bitten or stung person would be to use a tourniquet and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.


Main Differences Between Poisonous and Venomous

  1. Poison is made in an organism’s body, and they are immune to it, whereas venom is stored in special glands and may also be harmful to its producer.
  2. Venomous organisms use poison as a weapon of attack in order to kill or immobilize prey or intruders, whereas poisonous organisms use it as a tool of defense because waiting or harming them may hurt the predator very badly.
  3. Poison dart frogs have poison on their skin, some plants have poison in their leaves, and some mushrooms have it in their bulb, whereas venom is always in either stingers or fangs.
  4. Poison gets access to the body via ingestion, inhalation, or absorption, whereas venom is actively injected into the prey using specially evolved biological weapons like sharp teeth, fangs, or stingers.
  5. Poisons have much more widespread use in the human world in the manufacture of pesticides and insecticides, whereas venoms have only a few and specialized uses.
Difference Between Poisonous and Venomous
  1. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.1201/9780203719442-2/poisonous-venomous-animals-physician-view-julian-white

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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