Check out the smallest animals that can actually kill you! This top 10 list of cute and tiny animals features some of the most dangerous, poisonous and venomous creatures in the world!
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10. Lonomia Caterpillar
The Lonomia Obliqua is the world’s deadliest caterpillar, and just simply touching one can result in the end of your life. They grow to about 5 cm long and can be found in the rainforests of South America. In adulthood they turn into a species of Saturniid moth, but it’s during their larval form that you need to watch out!
They are the cause of a number of deaths each year in Brazil, mainly because they camouflage so well into their surroundings, and have an ingenious defence mechanism. The urticating bristles along their entire bodies are sharp, and inject venom into any creature that touches it, whether on purpose or by accident.
The toxin is, effectively, an anti-coagulant that causes internal bleeding, renal failure, and all kinds of other stuff. Touching multiple caterpillars will magnify the effect and most likely result in death, with no effective treatment available.
It’s not all bad with the lonomia caterpillar, though, as their venom is being researched as a potential anticoagulant to be used to prevent life threatening blood clots. Perhaps one day they can help save more people than they kill, but until then you should be very careful next time you’re climbing a tree in Brazil.
9. Assassin Bug
Assassin Bugs, also known as kissing bugs, get their nickname because of their fondness of biting humans near the lips on their face. These not-so-nice-bugs used to only be found in tropical areas in Central America, but, as a result of the warming climate, they are now found all across the bottom two thirds of the US- being quite common in Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico.
The bugs can be either brown or black, and sometimes have red dots on either side of their back. Kissing bugs love to suck blood during the night. While they aren’t dangerous to humans by themselves, the real danger of the Assassin Bug comes from a parasite they can carry that causes Chagas disease. These parasites are present in the bug’s faeces, which they typically will leave near anyone they have bitten, so if you happen to wipe your bite after this has happened, it’s possible to introduce them into your bloodstream.
It is difficult to tell if you have been infected with the Chagas disease because its symptoms at first, are similar to a cold. Chagas disease can shut down your major organs and can be fatal, even decades after you are first infected. It is very destructive on the heart muscle and surrounding nervous system so if you see one, never touch it with your bare hand.
8. Freshwater Snails
While they may seem harmless enough, and are often present in home aquariums, the freshwater snail is thought to be responsible for more than 200,000 deaths worldwide every year due to a parasitic disease that they carry, called Schistosomiasis.
It’s one of the deadliest parasites there is, and infects more than 250 million people a year- mainly across Asia, Africa, and South America. The parasitic worms leave the snails in bodies of water, and if you happen to be swimming in the area at the time, they can simply pass through your skin and into your bloodstream. It’s not actually the worms that will kill you, though, but their eggs. Their lifecycle requires them to return to the snails to mature, and while they’re in your body they latch onto tissue with sharp barbs. They therefore can result in a wide range of symptoms such as tiredness and anaemia- and in 10% of chronic cases, death.
It used to be a real problem in Japan until, in the 1970’s, they began a program to reduce the snail's’ habitat and aggressively treat anyone with symptoms. There are now far fewer freshwater snails in the country and, because of the two-pronged approach, infections are very uncommon. This shows it’s a disease that can be brought under control, but it takes huge resources to do so.
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