No matter how big, athletic, or well-conditioned you are, a deadly, poisonous animal could claim you as a victim.
Just picture it: you’re walking along a beach or in a field or even your back yard and, all of a sudden, you’re debilitated by the most severe pain you’ve ever experienced and you’ve got minutes left to live.
Because we frequently travel far and wide to quench our thirst for adventure, it’s important that we’re intimately aware of the foreign species that pack the most ferocious, life-threatening bites and stings and, more importantly, that we’re well-versed on how to deal with said attacks should they occur.
Funnel Web Spider
Native to the Southeastern region of Australia, near Sydney, funnel web spiders are small in size and known to dwell in cool shaded places.
They often hide out in shoes or clothing left outside.
Male venom is more potent than female, but a bite from either will usually take effect within 10-15 minutes, first causing numbness or tingling in the lips and soon resulting in any number of more advanced symptoms, from rapid heart rate to nausea to collapse to convulsions and coma.
Funnel web bites must never be treated at home and any affected patient should be transported to the emergency room as soon as possible.
While a victim is en route to the hospital, it’s a good idea to place a tightly wrapped bandage over the bite to halt the spread of venom.
Once in the hospital, victims may need to receive treatments including breathing support, IV and antivenin medication.
Found in the waters of Australia, Florida and the Caribbean, the stonefish is widely revered as one of the most deadly marine life forms on the planet and because of its camouflage, it is very difficult to differentiate from a stone (hence its name).
Victims usually encounter the almost hidden creature in shallow water as they walk in what they believe to be rocky reef terrain.
When they step on a stonefish, its spines pierce the skin and inject venom into the bloodstream.
The pain that follows is so severe that some sufferers have been known to request the affected limb be amputated.
The Australian Venom Research Unit advises hot water (at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit) may dull pain while en route to emergency medical service.
They also urge any first responders not to put pressure on the wound as doing so localizes pain, potentially making it more severe.
Stonefish can also survive on land for prolonged periods of time, so when walking on the beach, make sure the rock you’re about to step on doesn’t have eyes.
Australian Box Jellyfish
As beautiful as it is deadly, the Australian box jellyfish has been known to kill within minutes.
Found in the waters of Northern Australia, the box jellyfish’s sting has cardiotoxic, neurotoxic and dermatonecrotic effects.
All those big words mean that one run-in could wreak havoc on your heart, brain, and skin.
It’s not unusual for a victim to enter a state of cardiac arrest in under five minutes and shock is common.
These things scare the bejeezus out of me, they look like a discarded plastic bag, but I would rather take my chances with a Grizzly bear than face off against a Box Jellyfish!
If you’re lucky enough to survive, the stingers’ toxins may cause severe scarring in the affected areas.
The priority in all box jellyfish incidents should be getting the victim to dry land as quickly as possible as shock and cardiac arrest will impede his ability to swim to safety.
Once on land, CPR should be administered if a victim is in a state of arrest. In all cases, jellyfish tentacles should be removed after dowsing affected areas in vinegar for no less than 30 seconds.
The vinegar will neutralize any venom still left in the tentacles.
Attempting to remove tentacles before pouring vinegar on affected areas will result in more venom being released.
Some less severe stings may be treated with ice, painkillers, and antihistamines, but victims experiencing shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or serious skin damage should be transported to a hospital as soon as possible.
The coastal taipan snake makes our list for several reasons.
First, the bodily effects of its bite include nausea, convulsions, internal bleeding, destruction of the muscles and kidney damage and it’s been known to take a human life in under 30 minutes.
Second, it’s ornery.
While most snakes are afraid of confrontation and more likely to flee than attack, the coastal taipan’s uniquely jumpy demeanor makes it sensitive to even the slightest disturbance and, if it’s feeling at all threatened, it will snap to action, rendering a series of rapid-fire bites that will leave any victim dead if antivenin isn’t immediately made available.
If you have plans to travel to the east coast of Australia, beware. The region’s sugar fields are apparently rife with these guys.
Victims of a coastal taipan bite should have the area of the bite tightly wrapped by a bandage or piece of clothing immediately to prevent the spread of venom and then be rushed to the hospital.
It’s hard to imagine that something so visually appealing could be so menacingly dangerous.
Found in shallow waters and tide pools off the coast of Australia and in the Western Pacific Ocean, the blue-ringed octopus is either grey or beige and covered with brown patches.
When agitated, those brown patches are punctuated by vivid blue rings.
Often buried beneath the sand, these creatures lurk invisible to the unfortunate explorers who may step on them and feel the wrath of the powerful tetrodotoxin present in the animal’s salivary glands.
How serious is this toxin?
Let’s just say a blue-ringed octopus bite can paralyze and kill an adult in a matter of minutes and worse, there’s no known antivenin.
Victims need emergency medical attention stat, as endotracheal intubation (inserting a breathing tube into the trachea) and mechanical ventilation (machine-assisted breathing) are often necessary to save or prolong life.
There are some pretty scary critters out there in this big scary world, but if you were the type to let that stop you you probably wouldn’t be reading this website.