Top 10 Poisonous/Venomous Animals in Canada (2023)

From venomous snakes to poisonous fishCanada has a huge variety of deadly animals stored in its wilderness. Toxicity can be found in different forms and shapes in Canada, and one must be educated about these killer animals if planning a trip there. The geography of Canada is extremely diverse, with landscapes ranging from blue-black lakes to countless rivers, cruising central plains, elevated western mountains, and forested eastern valleys, providing a safe place for these deadly-poisonous animals to live in tranquility. So, this article focuses on the top 10 most Poisonous or Venomous Animals in Canada

These poisonous or venomous animals are proven to cause a variety of local and systemic effects on humans, including myolysis, neurotoxic paralysis, cardiopulmonary collapse, and haemorrhage or infractions. 

So, it is very important to maintain a safe distance from these life-threatening animals and seek immediate medical attention in case; you encounter one.

Top 10 Poisonous or Venomous Animals in Canada

10) Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar
Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar
  • Scientific Name: Lophocampa caryae
  • Size: 4.5 cm
  • Location: Southern Ontario
  • Lethality: slightly toxic

The Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar is not poisonous but rather stings and injects venom. These caterpillars are brightly colored to warn off their predators and send them off; they have fine hairs that stick to the mucous membranes of eyes and mouths and cause irritation, swelling, or pain if ingested by predators.

If a human comes in contact with these caterpillars, they develop rashes or a slight reddening of the skin and a burning sensation with swelling and itching. Some people may experience headaches, intense pain, or allergic reactions.

So, whenever you see a cute little woolly worm, just don’t touch it!


9) IO Moth Caterpillar

IO Moth Caterpillar
IO Moth Caterpillar
  • Scientific Name: Automeris io
  • Size: 2.5–3.5 inches (63–88 mm).
  • Location: southeastern Manitoba, southernmost Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in Canada.
  • Lethality: slightly toxic

The IO moth is a beautiful, vividly colored creature that has a distinctive eye-like pattern on its back that mimics the eyes of an owl and is used to startle its would-be predators.

The caterpillars of these species have stinging spines called scoli on their bodies, and when touched, they sting painfully, causing itching or nettling near the stung area. Sometimes a localized welt is formed, followed by reddening of the skin; this can last up to 4–6 hours.

However, if a spine is somehow left in the flesh, it’ll cause severe inflammation, so try to remove the spine using duct tape in this case, followed by ice packs.

They are quite commonly found in Canada, so it’s better to learn to recognize these caterpillars and curb any contact with them.


8) Brown Recluse Spider

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider
  • Scientific Name: Loxosceles reclusa
  • Size: 6-20 mm
  • Location: parts of Ontario
  • Lethality: mildly toxic

The brown recluse is not highly populated in Canada, and its colonization is rather debatable, but it can be found in homes, and sheds, nesting in debris or inside old furniture.

These spiders are not at all aggressive and only bite when pressed against their skin, like when putting on pants or the shoes they live in. These spiders can cause skin necrosis (rotting), systemic illness, and, in very rare cases, hemolysis.

When bitten by these spiders, one should seek immediate medical attention and ice the wound. There is no need to panic, as these wounds heal nicely with time, even without medical intervention or treatment.


7) Canadian Toads

  • Scientific Name: Anaxyrus hemiophrys
  • Size: 7.6 cm (3 in).
  • Location: forest regions of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories in Canada
  • Lethality: mildly toxic

Canadian toads have parotid glands that secrete toxins, but their poison is rarely fatal to humans and causes severe illness or death only in other smaller animals like dogs and cats.

In humans, these toxins cause eye and mouth irritation, vomiting, nausea, and several abdominal discomforts.

It is known that licking toads makes people high and causes hallucinations and euphoric effects, but licking a toad can cause severe illness, so it is not advisable to lick toads.


6) Murder Hornets

Murder Hornets
Murder Hornets | © Chris Looney—Washington State Department of Agriculture (TIME)
  • Scientific Name: Vespa mandarinia
  • Size: 35-76 mm (up to 3 in).
  • Location: some parts of British Columbia
  • Lethality: fairly toxic

Murder hornets are brightly colored creatures with big eyes and striped bellies. They have longer stingers in comparison to other wasps, given their larger size, and produce a high quantity of venom.

If anyone gets stung by these wasps once, it won’t cause much damage, and only minor tissue damage will occur. But consecutive stings can prove fatal and cause severe illness, especially for those individuals who are allergic to wasps.

It is advised to stay away from murder hornet’s nests and stay calm in case you encounter them. Never try to swat them, as they can fight you back.


5) Eastern Yellowjackets

Eastern Yellowjackets
Eastern Yellowjackets
  • Scientific Name: Vespula maculifrons
  • Size: 12.7–15.9 mm (0.5–0.625 in).
  • Location: throughout Canada
  • Lethality: fairly toxic

Eastern yellowjackets are a type of venomous wasp; they are bee-sized and have painful stings. Only female Yellowjackets are known to inject venom, and the symptoms of itching and swelling go away within one or two days.

However, they are known to sting repeatedly and can prove fatal for people with allergies. These bites mainly cause breathing problems, a swollen tongue or throat, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis.

If you’re stung by a yellow jacket, immediately leave the area, as these wasps release a chemical that attracts other wasps.


4) Prairie Rattlesnakes

Prairie Rattlesnakes
Prairie Rattlesnakes
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus viridis
  • Size: 100 cm (3.3 ft).
  • Location: Southwestern Saskatchewan and Southeastern Alberta
  • Lethality: highly toxic

Prairie rattlesnakes belong to a species of venomous pit vipers, and their bite can be lethal if not treated immediately. Their bites cause intense pain, swelling, nausea, blurred vision, low blood pressure, and even internal bleeding.

They are known for their “dry” bites, which means no venom is injected during most bites, but one should seek immediate medical treatment. Their venom tends to be largely cytotoxic and hemotoxic, which means it can cause severe tissue damage at the site of the bite.


3) Black Widow Spider

Black widow Spider
Black widow Spider
  • Scientific Name: Latrodectus mactans
  • Size: 3-13 mm
  • Location: Manitoba, parts of British Columbia, and northern and southern Ontario.
  • Lethality: highly toxic

There are two species of black widows found in different regions of Canada. Black widow spiders are known for their toxic venom, which is fifteen times stronger than the venom of a rattlesnake. But due to their small size, the quantity of venom injected is very low.

Females are much larger than males and are identified by red and black markings. The females are so deadly that they even eat their mates after reproduction.

Their bites are extremely painful as they contain alpha-latrotoxins, which overwhelm the nerve cells and can cause other symptoms of severe cramping, swelling, sweating, and chills, but they are rarely fatal for a healthy adult human.

If you find any black widow spiders, watch out for a “red hourglass” marking on the spider, as it sends a signal of danger.


2) Northern Pacific Rattlesnake

Northern Pacific Rattlesnakle
Northern Pacific Rattlesnakle
  • Scientific Name: Crotalus oreganus
  • Size: 100 cm (39 in).
  • Location: Southern Interior of British Columbia
  • Lethality: highly toxic

The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake is a venomous species of pit viper that inhabits rocky hillsides, mountain woods, rocky grasslands, and mountain streams; it is hidden inside rocky crevices.

There are several reports of these snake bites, although they tend to avoid any human confrontations. Nonetheless, a bite from an adult Northern Pacific rattlesnake can cause severe envenomation and death if adequate treatment is not provided.

The venom of these snakes is a powerful mixture of deadly neurotoxins, mycotoxins, and hemotoxins.

Victims may develop symptoms such as intense pain, blistering, swelling, nausea, and vomiting. Blood coagulation becomes impaired, and the breakdown of red blood cells leads to severe systemic symptoms. Other symptoms such as shock and multiple organ damage.


1) Massasauga Rattlesnake 

Massasauga Rattlesnake
Massasauga Rattlesnake
  • Scientific Name: Sistrurus catenatus
  • Size: 60-75 cm
  • Location: Ontario
  • Lethality: highly toxic

Massasauga Rattlesnake envenomation is highly fatal and can result in hemorrhage, tissue necrosis, increased vascular permeability, and even death from shock.

However, only two cases of death have been reported from the bite of these rattlesnakes in Ontario, and even that was due to improper treatment.

It would be a bad idea to mess with them because they are shy creatures and don’t come down on humans on their own. Major snake bites are only reported when people accidentally step on them or handle them deliberately.

So, when in Canada, avoid hiking during low visibility in the areas where these snakes could be found.

Conclusion: 

If one is planning to visit Canada, one should be well aware of the crazy deadly wildlife there and what to expect while traveling there. It is quite amazing to know about the top poisonous and venomous animals in Canada, their lethality, and crazy facts about them!


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