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  • Molly Weinfurter

10 Animals That are Resistant to Venom

A venomous snake bite can be deadly in many situations, but not every animal is affected by venomous creatures. Several animal species, including some that are thought of as small and powerless, are resistant to bites that are normally lethal.


Honey Badger

Honey badger venomous snakes

Honey badgers are known for being vicious and aggressive. They’re omnivorous creatures that hunt a variety of insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Some of their most shocking victims include venomous snakes and scorpions, which honey badgers eat without any consequences.


The honey badger is not only resistant to venom, but it also has thick skin that snake fangs, scorpion stings, and bee stings can’t easily puncture. Snakes are an excellent source of meat that not all animals can ingest, which is why they make up a big part of a honey badger’s diet.


Skunk

Skunk venom

Skunks are related to honey badgers, so they’re resistant to venom too. They’re believed to be able to withstand doses of venom that are 100 times higher than the amount that could kill a dog or cat. While having a skunk in a yard poses its own risks, it can reduce the number of dangerous snakes in that area.


Skunks themselves aren’t venomous, but their odor and ability to carry parasites deter a lot of predators. However, a few predators, such as great horned owls, will hunt skunks without seeming bothered by the stench.


Mongoose

Mongoose resistant to venom

A mongoose may look cute and innocent at first glance, but they’re skilled hunters. They will eat just about anything they can sink their teeth into, such as birds, small mammals, and snakes. They can successfully fight and kill snakes, even venomous ones that are larger than them.


These mammals are one of the few animals that have developed the ability to resist toxic effects from other creatures. Serum factors in the mongoose’s blood can neutralize toxins to prevent the venom from killing them. Thus, they can fight and eat venomous snakes frequently without harm.


Woodrat

Woodrat hiding by cactus

While venomous snakes eat woodrats, they can’t use their venom to quicken the process. Studies show that woodrats are resistant to snake venom. While many animals would quickly experience liver clotting or cardiac arrest from a venomous snake bite, the woodrats seemed unphased.


However, woodrats don’t eat or take down snakes like a mongoose or honey badger might. So, their resistance to venom is more of a survival instinct than a hunting advantage. Woodrats typically live in environments full of venomous snakes, so their resistance allows them to escape a snake’s fangs alive.


Snake

Kingsnake venom

Most snakes are resistant to their own venom, so they can’t accidentally harm themselves with a bite. They have neutralizing antibodies that protect them from their own venom and sometimes the venom of other animals. For example, kingsnakes and indigo snakes seem to be resistant to rattlesnake venom.


Yet, not every snake species is safe. King cobras, despite being some of the most dangerous snakes, aren’t immune to snake venom. They can be killed by the venom of another snake, even another king cobra.


Opossum 

Opossum on fence

Studies show that the opossum is resistant to the venom of over 12 dangerous snake species. They can withstand up to 60 times the amount of venom that would be deadly for other animals. While they can’t withstand every species of venomous animal, their resistance to venom could help create remedies for snake bite victims.


Opposums typically scavenge for any food they can find, which could include both venomous and nonvenomous snakes. In addition to surviving snake bites, these mammals are also resistant to rabies.


Hedgehog

Hedgehog venom

Not only are hedgehogs immune to venomous animals and poisonous plants, but they can also use them to defend themselves. Hedgehog spikes don’t contain any venom and can’t be easily removed from the body. However, hedgehogs can make them dangerous by chewing on poisonous plants and rubbing them on the spikes for an extra layer of protection.


Putting poison on their spikes helps mask the hedgehog’s scent and puts a predator into a poisonous shock if they try to eat the hedgehog. It’s another reason for predators to stay away, in addition to the mammal's pokey exterior.


California Ground Squirrel

California ground squirrel eating

Like woodrats, California ground squirrels aren’t actively hunting venomous creatures like snakes. However, these rodents are common prey for rattlesnakes. To help them survive in their environment, these ground squirrels are resistant to rattlesnake venom, allowing them to escape without dying from a bite.


Even though there are lots of ground squirrel species, this is the only one known to be resistant to rattlesnake venom. The others live in environments that rarely have venomous animals, so there’s no need for that extra layer of protection.


Sea Turtle

Sea turtle swimming

Some sea turtles, such as the leatherback sea turtle, are safe from jellyfish venom. While sea turtles aren’t inherently immune to venom, their thick scales protect them from getting stung by jellyfish.


Many sea turtles even eat jellyfish since they’re nutritious without hurting the turtles. The sea turtle’s esophagus is just as protected from jellyfish stings as their exterior scales. Unfortunately, eating jellyfish poses other risks to sea turtles because plastic bags floating in the water sometimes resemble jellyfish, causing turtles to try to eat those instead.


Pig

Pig with ear tag

Pigs are considered lazy and docile today, but they’re descended from wild boars. Wild boars typically live in areas where venomous snakes are common, so they need a way to protect themselves. Studies suggest that while pigs aren’t fully immune to venomous snakes, they’re much more resistant to them than the average animal.


Despite popular belief, it isn’t the pig’s fat that keeps them safe. Venom can travel through fat, so pigs have a genetic mutation that prevents the venom’s components from binding, making it useless inside the pig’s body. However, they may not have this resistance until they’re adults, so adult pigs will often attack snakes, possibly in an attempt to protect their piglets.

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