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Deadly Spiders, Ranked By How Deadly Their Venom Is (Or Could Be)

Updated April 9, 2020 72.1k views9 items
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We share this planet with some pretty scary spiders - from massive, hairy tarantulas, to the infamous black widow. As terrifying as some of them are, the vast majority of spider species are actually not poisonous. And contrary to popular belief, many that are considered venomous won't cause significant harm to humans. 

There are many spiders that are simply misunderstood- species such as the Huntsman, which is large and hairy but very calm and non-venomous. However, there are a handful of spiders from around the world that you would most definitely want to avoid if you happen to come across them. 

Can spider venom kill you? The answer is yes, absolutely - there are antivenoms for most species, but the side effects and pain can still potentially land people in the hospital. These are the most venomous spiders ranked by how deadly their venom is, or could be - based upon an analysis of their venom - if they bit someone.  

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  • Chilean Recluse

    Photo: Ssiltane / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Time To Kill: Unknown

    The Chilean Recluse is known as the most dangerous of the recluse species. It is native to South America, but has spread to Finland and Australia, most likely through shipments of fruit.

    Its bite can cause skin irritation as well as tissue necrosis that can range from mild to severe. According to the CDC, death is cited in 3 to 4% of Chilean Recluse bite cases. 

  • Six-Eyed Sand Spider

    Photo: Beliar Spider / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Honorable Mention: Although there are no official records of bites, its venom has the potential to be very deadly to humans and there is no antivenom. 

    Six-Eyed Sand Spiders are native to deserts, primarily in Africa. They are ambush predators who burrow into the sand to wait for prey. Because they live in remote locations, they don't often come into contact with humans; recorded bites are both rare and unconfirmed.

    However, they are thought to be one of the most poisonous spiders in the world. As shown by toxicology reports, their venom has a hemolytic and necrotic effect- tissue death and the breaking open of red blood cells. Scientists suggest that the bite could very easily be deadly.

  • Chinese Bird Spider

    Photo: Roland Pfaffeneder / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Honorable Mention: Although there are no known fatalities, their venom is a complex neurotoxin that can potentially kill humans.

    Chinese Bird Spiders, also known as Earth Tigers (translated to English), are a very aggressive species of Old World Tarantula found in southern China and Vietnam. They usually feed on insects and small mammals, contrary to their name. 

    Their venom has been studied by toxicologists, who believe that the strength of their venom would be potentially very dangerous to humans, and some bites have required hospitalization if left untreated.

  • Redback

    Photo: CSIRO / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    Honorable Mention: Non-lethal, but 14 unconfirmed deaths before the antivenom was invented in 1956.

    Symptoms of a Redback bite include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and lethargy. They can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and can sometimes be paired with pain in the chest or abdomen. 

    They live all throughout Australia and are similar in appearance, habits, and venom to the Black Widow.