Thailand’s Venomous / Poisonous Animals

This page is about venomous animals in Thailand that bite or sting which are capable of causing pain and even death in some circumstances. When an animal injects venom from a barb, fangs, tail (scorpion), stinger or other apparatus, the animals is said to be VENOMOUS – not poisonous. Many people are confused, so I added “Poisonous” here to show the difference. Poisonous animals are capable of creating poison that is ingested or absorbed through the skin or lungs.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN OR STUNG BY A VENOMOUS ANIMAL – READ BELOW NOW.

Venomous Thailand Animals and Cautions, Treatment Recommendations

Ant, and Termite Bites

Ants and termites can look very similar so I’ll put them in the same group here. One time I stepped off a boardwalk to get a closer photo of a lizard, and my foot was swarmed by what I thought were ants. They were black termites. Their bite hurt a LOT, and even drew blood. So if you’re wondering, yes, termites bite!

There are so many species of ants in Thailand that there should be a website dedicated to them. I did write an article about Thailand ants here once It’s HERE. Almost all the ants bite. Some are capable of creating very large welts – and it’s odd, but these are some very tiny ants. The kind you find on your towels as you’re drying off sometimes. I have had some really horrible experiences with these, and welts on places that have physically deformed me for days.

There aren’t any ants which can kill you in Thailand, but like with ANY venomous animal, you may be allergic to the venom. An allergic reaction can build slowly, until you’re at the point of going unconscious because you cannot breathe. A strong allergic reaction produces ANAPHYLAXIS – and sometimes ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK. This is no joke. If you feel any of the symptoms listed at the bottom of this page – get someone to take you to the hospital NOW. Don’t delay. Breathing may get very difficult – it’s progressive, not all at once, so you have time if you act fast.

Bees, Hornets, Wasps, Other Bug Stings

I’m in the rainforest a lot. The one thing I fear while walking around, running around, is bees and other flying bugs. The reason I fear them so much is that it is so difficult to get away from them once they swarm and are stinging. It’s a virtual death sentence. It happens a couple times a year in Thailand. I recall a couple of Buddhist Monks died in one such incident.

Some, but not all of the bees here will swarm around you if you swat at one of them. They either make a sound or spray a pheremone in the air, or somehow alert others that there is danger – and the danger is YOU. If you kill one, same thing. I have this habit of swatting bees and flies out of the air, killing them quickly. I did this on my porch one time and within 30 seconds there were MANY of the same species of bee flying around and trying to land on me. I went into the house and we shut the door and windows as we watched 100’s of them come to our porch to investigate the smell or whatever signal the dead bee left. It was an hour before we could go outside. Do be VERY CAREFUL with bees. They are well-known to be able to inflict bites causing potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS. Read more at the bottom of this page.

Blue Ringed Octopus Bites

Thailand blue-ringed octopus, deadly venom.
Hapalochlaena lunulata – Blue-ringed Octopus

Blue-ringed Octopi can be found in the ocean surrounding Thailand and most of Asia. They can also be found in tide pools and on exposed rocks and coral. They have a deadly neurotoxic venom called Tetrodotoxin which can be absorbed through your skin just by touching the octopus. Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times more toxic than cyanide!

Symptoms are severe or total paralysis within minutes. Artificial respiration is essential to save the victim’s life.

Caterpillar Stings

Caterpillars are frequent in Thailand, and we have our share of stinging caterpillars which can cause severe reactions if you touch them. Some caterpillars can eject their hairs from their body. If they reach your skin, they can cause serious problems. These caterpillars can kill small animals if the hairs are inhaled. I was stung by a caterpillar in Florida while cutting the lawn. The pain was really horrific, and it was only on my thin nylon shorts, not even touching my skin.

Do be VERY careful with caterpillars – they need not be bright colors to be venomous.

They are known to be able to cause potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS. Read more at the bottom of this page.

Centipede Bites

Thailand centipede
Copyright Alan at Flickr-By-Attribution

There are a couple of centipedes in Thailand. They all bite with 2 pinchers on the front of the head near the mouth. They usually leave 2 very small puncture wounds very close to each other (up to 8 mm apart).

Centipedes are known to be able to inflict bites causing potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS. Read more at the bottom of this page.

Jellyfish, Man-O-War Stings

Jellyfish and Man-O-War stings can be incredibly painful and send you into shock quickly. I was stung by a box jellyfish in Maui in 2005. It was the most horrible pain I’ve ever experienced, far worse than any injury I’ve ever received (broken sternum hurt, but was nothing in comparison).

Thailand has many jellyfish, and even box jellyfish.

What To Do for a Box Jellyfish Sting?

Find some vinegar and cover the tentacles with it as fast as possible. This stops the tentacles from stinging. If you cannot find any vinegar, then pluck the remaining tentacles off the body with tweezers, a towel, something other than your fingers, obviously. Do not scrape the tentacles off.

Apply heat – around 45C – for 45 minutes. This will reduce ruptured blood cells. There are heat packs which can heat up chemically to provide a heating pad to help relieve pain.

Research also pointed to venom-inhibiting technology, such as Sting No More, a spray developed by Yanagihara with Hawaii Community Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Defense.

Thailand Box Jellyfish Calendar >

Excellent Paper on Thailand’s Deadly Box Jellyfish Stings >

Jellyfish stings are well-known to be able to inflict bites causing potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS. Read more at the bottom of this page.

Scorpion Stings

Thailand scorpion in garage.
Copyright 2007 Vern Lovic.

Scorpions are common in Thailand. We’ve had them on our porch, in our garage, and I’ve seen many in the forest. There are a number of species. One is large – the Giant Forest Scorpion. It’s black, and can be around 7 inches long from pincers to tail. They are nocturnal – active at night – and sometimes they are walking around at night a few days after a full moon. Other times they are under a rock or some other cover. I’ve also found them inside rotting logs between the bark and center wood. These big black scorpions are not all that dangerous. They sting, and it hurts for a bit, but the pain quickly goes away.

The other scorpions are smaller and some shade of brown. Some of these can cause excruciating pain. I just now got off the phone with a woman who was stung by a small, skinny scorpion last night when she picked up her laundry basket. She describes the pain as electric – like a shock, it affects her nerves from her finger to her shoulder. The pain has only slightly lessened since last night around 10:30 pm. She was given a local injection for pain, and it helped for 3 hours, but now the pain is again unbearable. She’ll go back and get another shot. Last night I convinced her to go to the hospital because she said her chest felt heavy – compressed… a slight trouble breathing. I’m so glad she went, because symptoms of ANAPHYLAXIS are progressive – building until you’re incapacitated, and possibly dead.

Scorpions are well-known to be able to inflict bites causing potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS. Read more at the bottom of this page.

Sea Snakes and Terrestrial (Land) Snakebites

Almost all sea snakes have toxic venom, you’re strongly advised never to get too close to one. They have potent venom which can stop your heart and breathing before you can make it to a hospital.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY A SNAKE – GO HERE NOW >

Snakes are known to be able to inflict bites causing potentially fatal ANAPHYLAXIS, as well as fatal envenomation.  Read more at the bottom.

Spider Bites

Golden Orb Weaver spider from Thailand.
These spiders bite, but it won’t hurt that bad. Golden Orb Weaver. Photo Jon Rawlinson at Flickr-By-Attribution.

Thailand has many spiders, but most of them are fairly harmless. Tarantulas can give a stronger bite than most, but you are not all that likely to EVER see a tarantula in Thailand. They tend to remain in holes in dirt or leaves, waiting for prey.

I believe Thailand has the brown recluse spider – which can give potentially fatal bites.

List of Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock (Life-threatening)

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis usually occur within 5-60 minutes. HAVE SOMEONE DRIVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY IF YOU HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Red rash, with hives/welts, that is usually itchy (It is possible to have a severe allergic reaction without skin symptoms.)
  • Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body (It is possible to have a severe allergic reaction without skin symptoms.)
  • Wheezing
  • Passing out
  • Chest tightness
  • Trouble breathing, cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Pale or red color to the face and body
  • Feeling of impending doom

 

NOTE – if you’re a doctor or other health professional and you notice something wrong with the information contained in this article – do let me know! (Contact Here)