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View Full Version : Are any animals poisonous for humans to eat?


Annie-Xmas
10-27-2005, 09:39 AM
Is there any animal that will cause instant death to a person who eats it? While I know numerous plants will, the only animal I can think of is the blowfish that has poisonous parts and must be prepared very carefully.

Any others?

Giant_Spongess
10-27-2005, 09:49 AM
Poison dart frogs--that should be obvious.

Polar bear liver has so much vitamin A it can kill you if you eat it.

Madd Maxx
10-27-2005, 12:32 PM
Lots of fish can be if you have allergies to them. Like me and shellfish. Parrotfish (and other fish too) can have high levels of mercury which can make you very sick (or wishing you were dead) or hypothetically kill you. I'm not sure how often this occurs though.

Quercus
10-27-2005, 02:30 PM
Parrotfish (and other fish too) can have high levels of mercury which can make you very sick (or wishing you were dead) or hypothetically kill you. I'm not sure how often this occurs though.

In any ocean fish (or most freshwater fish), mercury is only a concern for soon-to-be mothers or small children. And it won't make you particularly sick, just make you or your child mentally retarded (and/or other development problems).
There might be a few fish swimming around in a toxic waste pool somewhere that are contaminated enough to cause damage right off, but not in general.

astro
10-27-2005, 04:25 PM
Cooked or uncooked?? Cooking will destroy the effectiveness of many animal toxins and poisons. Most animal toxins are proteins of one sort of another, I don't know if any animal poison would stay potent (ie kill you quickly) after a day of slow cooking in crockpot as the proteins would likely denature.

Uncooked lots of animals will potentially kill you if eaten raw:

Pufferfish may well kill you as the liver is very toxic. There are proabbly lots of other toxic fish as well.

Mangetout
10-27-2005, 04:31 PM
I would think there are a fair few poisonous insects too, although they are likely to be unpalatable with it.

lissener
10-27-2005, 05:04 PM
Hmm. Whole animals? There are parts of the pufferfish that are NOT poisonous. But people eat rattlesnake too. I bet there are a lot of animals that people eat parts of that have other parts that are poisones. I wonder, for example, if the flesh of a poisonous amphibian (dart frogs, cane toads) is edible? Not the the frog's legs harvested from a Dendrobates would make much of a mouthful, but that's not the question at hand.

LiveOnAPlane
10-27-2005, 05:22 PM
When we lived on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, we were repeatedly warned about eating reef fish. Some of them could pick up ciguatera, which comes from ciguatoxins from the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus.

This may not answer your question completely, because these poisons don't act instantly and do not always cause death---and, of course, are not limited to one particular species of fish.

Blake
10-27-2005, 05:41 PM
"Instant death" is a bit of a menaingless term. Nothing causes instant detah when eaten. It always takes at least 3 minutes for brain death to occur AFAIK. And IIRC pufferfish won't kill a healthy person in anything less than half a aday. So we then have to ask what qualifies as "instant". Is it 3 minutes, or 3 hours?

There are a great many animals that will kill a person. Remember that most aniamls are invertrebrates, and ahuge chunk of those are insects. There are any number of poisonous invertebrates that would kill anyone stupid enough to eat the. You could probably find several in your back yard alone if you took the time. The pont being that nobody feels compelled to chow down on random catterpillars and beetles to find out how poisonous they actually are.

Colibri
10-27-2005, 05:49 PM
I wonder, for example, if the flesh of a poisonous amphibian (dart frogs, cane toads) is edible?

Archeological evidence from Panama suggests that in pre-Columbian times local people often ate Marine Toads, aka Cane Toads (Bufo marinus); the toxin is in the skin, not the flesh.

A.R. Cane
10-27-2005, 06:01 PM
When we lived on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, we were repeatedly warned about eating reef fish. Some of them could pick up ciguatera, which comes from ciguatoxins from the dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus.

This may not answer your question completely, because these poisons don't act instantly and do not always cause death---and, of course, are not limited to one particular species of fish.

Is this a phenomena local to the Marshalls? I've lived on both Midway, and
Bermuda, and I've never heard of it.

Mangetout
10-27-2005, 06:31 PM
"Instant death" is a bit of a menaingless term. Nothing causes instant detah when eaten.Nitroglycerine (OK, it's not an animal, but you didn't specify).
:D

LiveOnAPlane
10-27-2005, 06:47 PM
Is this a phenomena local to the Marshalls? I've lived on both Midway, and
Bermuda, and I've never heard of it.
No. I don't think it is an issue in Bermuda, but it sure is in the tropical Pacific, not just Kwaj.

Gimme me a minute here...

Ah, got a hit!! Between 35 degrees south and 35 degrees north of the equator:

http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC3661.htm

Kwaj is 7 degrees north.

LiveOnAPlane
10-27-2005, 06:50 PM
Is this a phenomena local to the Marshalls? I've lived on both Midway, and
Bermuda, and I've never heard of it.
No. I don't think it is an issue in Bermuda, but it sure is in the tropical Pacific, not just Kwaj.

Gimme me a minute here...

Ah, got a hit!! Between 35 degrees south and 35 degrees north of the equator:

http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC3661.htm

Kwaj is 7 degrees north.

The thing about Midway isn't the location, probably, I think it is within this range, but rather the fact that you didn't have a lot of families & recreation activities there. I could be wrong, of course, and if so please forgive me. Otherwise, no clue why this wasn't part of your briefing...

Fish
10-27-2005, 07:17 PM
Hmm. Whole animals? There are parts of the pufferfish that are NOT poisonous. But people eat rattlesnake too. I bet there are a lot of animals that people eat parts of that have other parts that are poisones.
Yeah, if we're talking whole animals, then eating a whole elephant would probably kill most anybody.

Mangetout
10-27-2005, 07:23 PM
Yeah, if we're talking whole animals, then eating a whole elephant would probably kill most anybody.Depends; am I allowed to chew?

Colibri
10-27-2005, 07:25 PM
Yeah, if we're talking whole animals, then eating a whole elephant would probably kill most anybody.

Depends on how fast you have to eat it.

Fish
10-27-2005, 08:17 PM
The same could be said of any poisonous animal, though. If you eat something which is highly toxic one one-molecule "meals" over several months, you'd probably be okay. Somehow I get the feeling that it'd be cheating.

Kansas Beekeeper
10-27-2005, 09:15 PM
Gar eggs are supposed to be very poisonous and not to be made into caviar:

link (http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/natbltn/200-299/nb209.htm)

link (http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/AlligatorGar/AlligatorGar.html)

Der Trihs
10-27-2005, 09:46 PM
The Pitohui bird from New Guinea has poison feathers, and lesser amounts in the skin. If anyone was dumb enough to eat the feathers it would likely kill them; just eating the skin makes people sick. An extract from the feathers can kill mice; they contain the same poison you find in poison-arrow frogs. Here's an article. (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2001/2/intoxnewguineabirds.cfm)

Finagle
10-27-2005, 10:43 PM
The liver of polar bears (http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/polar-bears-in-depth/physiology/) contains large amounts of Vitamin A and is toxic. It'll take weeks to kill you, though.

antechinus
10-27-2005, 11:53 PM
The Pitohui bird from New Guinea has poison feathers, and lesser amounts in the skin. If anyone was dumb enough to eat the feathers it would likely kill them; just eating the skin makes people sick. An extract from the feathers can kill mice; they contain the same poison you find in poison-arrow frogs. Here's an article. (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/2001/2/intoxnewguineabirds.cfm)

And the reason it is called a Pitohui bird - it is that is the sound made when spitting out the awful tasting skin. ... p'tooohey

TX SpookyPants
10-28-2005, 12:13 AM
Quick note on Dart Frogs . . .

Only those caught in the wild would be harmful to a person. The captive-raised ones are harmless. I've been looking into getting some for some time now, so I made sure to research that little tidbit, heh. Given that in captivity, they tend to be fed dlightless fruitflies and small crickets, they're not going to get the poison in their diet to secrete from their skin.

But in the wild . . . One tiny drop of toxin is all it takes to paralyze and in some cases kill a foe—including a person. (http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/frogs/vivarium/toxic.php) Doing a little research, it seems the Phyllobates have batrachotoxin and Dendrobates have pumiliotoxin, which is less toxic. The Dendrobates are what you usually see in captivity.

Anyway, by the sounds of it, just licking a Phyllobates could do a pretty nasty number on you, heh. Eating an ENTIRE one? Oomph.

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