For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals
Over the past couple days, I’ve been reading a book called “Venomous” by Christie Wilcox, which, as the name suggests, is about venomous animals. Specifically, I was interested in the subcategory of venomous mammals. Mammals have always been my favorite category of species on Earth, and I thought that it was interesting that using venom, an ability that insects and reptiles usually dominate, can also be deployed by certain mammals. Before I dive into the subject, there are 14 known species of venomous mammals, according to Wilcox, including the Slow Loris, the White-Winged Vampire bat, and that one that I will feature, which you can glean from the name of this post.
First off, I’ll distinguish the difference between poison and venom, because not everyone may be aware of it. Both poisonous and venomous animals have toxins but the difference is in how they are delivered. Poisonous animals’ toxins only become harmful when consumed, while venom must be inserted into the blood stream, through something such as a fang or claw. For instance, a scorpion, which delivers toxin through a stinger on the end of its tail, would be venomous, however, a pufferfish, which can be deadly if certain parts of it aren’t removed before consumption, is poisonous. We can assume that poison is used for defense against predators, because of the circumstances it must be under to be toxic, and that venom can serve as both offense and defense.
Of the 14 known animal species that are venomous, the platypus is one that is unique because it’s the only one that inserts its venom using a spur, which only males have. I’ve always had an interest in platypuses in particular, which makes sense, because they’re definitely odd creatures among mammals. In kindergarten, I did my science fair project on them, asking the question “Why Does The Platypus Lay Eggs?”, which you can see below. Despite their funny appearance, the venom of the platypus is actually quite strong, and is known to cause immense pain in the people and animals it envenomates.
If you’d like to learn more about the platypus in general, and why they lay eggs, watch the video below of my kindergarten science fair presentation (I told you I was really into the platypus!).