40+ Seriously Dangerous Plants And Animals You Should Never Touch

You might not realize it, but danger could be lurking around every corner. We’re not just talking about road traffic accidents or run-ins with criminals here, either. There’s so much in the world that could hurt you simply from touching it, and some of these things are a lot more common than you might think.

All sorts of stuff grows or lives in the wild, and on the surface, it can appear incredibly harmless. However, you shouldn’t always judge these things solely on their appearance. A lot of them will actually fight back if you put your hands anywhere near them, leading to some unfortunate consequences. If you’re not careful, touching them could even be the last thing you ever do.

That’s why it’s essential to know which things in the world mean you harm, so you can stop yourself from getting too close to them before it’s too late.


Hogweed might look relatively harmless, but don’t be fooled. Touching this could leave you with severe burns or even blindness if you’re not careful. The plant seems to be slowly spreading across the world, meaning it’s more important than ever that you be on your guard. Letting hogweed come into contact with your skin could result in burning if it’s then exposed to sunlight.

This is because of the sap that it contains, which is found on all parts of the plant. If this were to get into your eyes, it could leave you permanently without sight. That’s a nightmare no-one should want to come true. Luckily, given that these things reach 14-feet tall, they’re not too hard to spot and avoid.

Poison ivy

The name of poison ivy alone should be enough to put you off touching it. The plant is covered with an oily resin known as urushiol, which can cause a long-lasting rash when in contact with skin. This can be incredibly itchy and hard to relieve, with some cases requiring prescription medication to get rid of it.

Given that urushiol is present in all parts of the plant, from the leaves and stem to the roots and berries, it’s best to keep your hands away at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s not just through touching poison ivy that it can affect you. Being around these plants when they’re burning is also dangerous because the urushiol in the smoke can impact your lungs.


Saying that you should never touch rhubarb might seem strange given that it’s an ingredient used in a lot of desserts. However, it’s not the part that goes into pies that you need to be concerned about. Instead, it’s the leaves that they’re attached to when they grow out of the ground.

These contain a lot of oxalic acid, which is poisonous. Although ingesting some of this might not be fatal, it’ll still have you regretting ever going anywhere near the stuff. While the stalk itself is harmless, it can be infected with oxalic acid if temperatures get too cold. You might want to keep that in mind if you grow your own rhubarb because that could come back to bite you.

Poison dart frog

The poison dart frog is another of those animals that is impossible to miss. The creature comes in an assortment of colors, all of which stand out from their surroundings. There’s no accidentally touching this animal, which is exactly what the poison dart frog wants. Its skin has taken on aposematic coloration, which basically means that it’s exterior acts as a warning to potential predators.

Get too close to this frog, and it might be the last thing you ever do. It’s covered in a layer of neurotoxins, which could lead to fatal consequences if you’re not careful. You’re best off keeping your distance unless you’re willing to put your life on the line. These frogs aren’t to be messed with.

Water hemlock

Water hemlock is a plant that you always want to be careful around, especially as there are so many different types of it. It has four different species, and each one will pose a threat if you get too close to it. Unfortunately, they’re all relatively common in the West, with Europe and North America both brimming with the stuff. That’s not good news for people who don’t want to risk doing damage to their central nervous system.

Apparently, most forms of water hemlock can lead to things like seizures when ingested, which is why should you never get too close. Just touching the plant then putting your fingers in your mouth can result in poisoning because the toxins are everywhere.


You should never eat berries you find in the wild without first knowing what they are. After all, ingesting the wrong thing could have severe implications for your health. Elderberries might look harmless, for instance, but you might think differently once you’re stuck in the bathroom dealing with things like vomiting and diarrhea. That’s what can happen if you eat these berries straight off the plant.

They’re perfectly safe to ingest if they’ve been cooked first because this removes the cyanogenic glycosides which boast toxic properties. So, unless you’re planning on getting busy in the kitchen, you’d be wise not to go picking any of these berries. You don’t want to risk the temptation of eating them, no matter how hungry you are.

Japanese giant hornet

There aren’t many people in the world who like wasps, and understandably so. These insects can give you quite a painful sting, and they don’t need much convincing to do so. Unlike bees, they often lash out whether they’ve been provoked or not. Of course, while wasps might be a nightmare, hornets are even worse. The Japanese giant hornet, in particular, is something you definitely don’t want to mess with.

The largest of its species, it’s sting can send you to the hospital due to how much venom it injects. They can do damage to your nervous system while also causing anaphylactic shock and renal failure. If you wish to avoid these unpleasant outcomes, don’t go near the Japanese giant hornet.


The rhododendron is not an uncommon plant. In fact, it’s something that a lot of people probably see on a regular basis. It’s grown in various parts of the world – although it’s most prominent in Asia – and its flowers are beloved by many. With that in mind, you might think that the plant is harmless. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case. Certain species of this flower are poisonous because they contain grayanotoxin.

This is found in the pollen and nectar of the flowers, meaning it can easily be transferred by bees and turned into honey. Apparently, it can have hallucinogenic and laxative effects on people who ingest it, as well as a slowed heart rate, vomiting, and a feeling of exhaustion.

Death cap

Mushrooms are something you should always be careful about picking. Although not all fungi are harmful, some can definitely be lethal if you eat – or even touch – them. Take the death cap, for instance. The clue is in the name with this mushroom that is largely found across Europe. It can be hard to identify it sometimes because it looks so much like several other species, such as Caesar’s mushroom.

That’s precisely why you should always be on your guard when you’re foraging, though. It might look like one of the edible species, but ingesting this will not do you any good. Due to its amatoxins, which can’t be removed through cooking, just eating half a mushroom could be fatal.

The kissing bug

The kissing bug might have a seemingly pleasant name, but it’s not as nice as you may think. One of their other names is probably a more relevant description of them – the vampire bug. Yes, these creatures go from one person to the next, sucking their blood and leaving diseases in their wake. These insects can be particularly problematic in places like the south of the US, where Chagas disease is found.

That’s because the bugs are perfect hosts for the illness, meaning they happily go around giving it to all the people whose blood they suck. A kiss from one of these creatures is the last thing you want, especially as Chagas disease can potentially cause things like anaphylaxis.

Poison oak

Growing up, you were probably told to be careful around poison oak many times. Once again, the clue is in the name with this one, so you should know not to mess with it. Daring to get too close could leave you with a rash that you’ll soon regret. Poison oak is pretty much the same as poison ivy, with urushiol once again the problem here.

As soon as the leaves or the stem are broken, this substance gets released. Letting it touch your hands or any other part of your body will likely result in dermatitis. It can take up to three days for the problem to occur, so don’t let the delayed response fool you into thinking you’re safe.

Bleeding tooth

The name of this fungi isn’t particularly pleasing, although it’s clear to see why it’s called this. The mushroom often takes on the appearance of a tooth, with the red blotches almost looking like blood. The sight of this alone ought to be enough to put you off if you find it while exploring North America or Europe.

Technically, this fungus isn’t as dangerous as some of the others out there. Touching or eating it won’t have fatal consequences because it doesn’t contain any poison. However, that doesn’t mean you should eat it. Apparently, it’s taste is so bitter than many deem it to be inedible. That ought to give you enough reason to pay it no mind when you’re in the wild.

Brazilian wandering spider

If you hate spiders, then touching them is probably the last thing on your mind. However, not everyone hates these creatures, and they’ll gladly do what so many others would be too afraid to think about. While we admire their courage, there are some species that even they should refrain from touching. That includes the Brazilian wandering spider, which is not one to be messed with.

Primarily found in South America, a bite from these arachnids could be fatal if you encounter the wrong one. Their venom contains dangerous neurotoxins, which can lead to paralysis, breathing issues, and, eventually, asphyxiation. It’s not the most pleasant way to go out, which is why you should watch yourself when these spiders are nearby.

Jimson weed

Jimson weed goes by another name, which fans of the Harry Potter series might be familiar with. It’s called devil’s snare, and just like the plant from The Sorcerer’s Stone, this is something you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. It’s an invasive weed found in most countries with temperate climates, and it can be severely toxic in some instances.

Every part of the plant is brimming with tropane alkaloids, which can cause things like hallucinations. Some people view that as a positive and actively ingest jimson weed for its psychoactive effects. However, doing this can be extremely dangerous, because it could lead to overdosing. You should steer clear of the plant if you want to avoid that outcome.

Bullet ant

On its own, an ant isn’t that big of a deal. After all, it’s a tiny thing that can’t really cause you any harm. Of course, there are many different species of ants out there, some of which could potentially lead to fatal consequences when crossed. The bullet ant is an example of this. Typically found in humid lowland rainforests, it has a pair of mandibles that you won’t forget anytime soon.

Supposedly, the pain of being stung is as bad as being shot, hence its name. However, this all-consuming agony is only the beginning. The venom of these creatures can cause stuff like tachycardia and lymphadenopathy, as well as issues with the central nervous system. You don’t want that.


Spurge is another plant that’s not uncommon around the world, and it’s even considered popular in some instances. Just because people might occasionally use them for decorations though, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily safe to touch. Spurge typically produces a sap that is poisonous in nature and, therefore best to avoid. It can lead to the inflammation of mucous membranes – such as your eyes – when in contact with them.

If you don’t want to deal with things like permanent blindness, you probably shouldn’t touch these plants. If you do happen to get the sap on your hands, then wash it off with soap immediately. Simply using water won’t do the trick because it’s insoluble, meaning it won’t come off easily.

Angel’s trumpet

Surely a plant that’s named the Angel’s trumpet can’t be that bad, right? If only that were the case. The heavenly name comes more from its appearance rather than because it means people no harm. This is actually one of the more toxic plants out there, at least when it comes to those considered ornamental. It contains tropane alkaloids that can result in paralysis, tachycardia, constipation, headaches, and more.

This is another plant that is popular for its hallucinogenic properties, but again, that carries a lot of risks. There have been instances when ingesting Angel’s trumpet has been fatal, so you shouldn’t mess with it. Not unless you think going on a trip is worth putting your life on the line.

Tsetse fly

It’s a known fact that flies are some of the worst disease carriers in the world. These insects can harbor all sorts of unpleasant things, and they have no qualms about sharing them with humans. The tsetse fly is particularly bad for this, with the creature famous for spreading diseases like human sleeping sickness. This is characterized by things like fever, headaches, confusion, numbness, and sleeping difficulties.

It’s common in sub-Saharan Africa where the tsetse fly is most typically found. Due to the lack of treatment in parts of this region, a lot of fatalities occur from human sleeping sickness. Though the disease is curable, it needs to be diagnosed early enough for doctors to be able to do something about it.

White snakeroot

White snakeroot is another plant you’d do best to avoid, especially as ingesting it can cause illness. Unfortunately, steering clear might not always be enough to keep you safe from it. The plant is often consumed by cattle who then have their meat and milk tainted by the toxins. If humans go on to ingest this, there’s a chance they can get tremetol poisoning. This can result in things like vomiting, trembling, and intestinal pain, with the eventual outcome being fatal.

Thankfully, this kind of thing doesn’t typically happen anymore thanks to improved animal husbandry practices. However, it’s good to remember the potential outcomes in case you ever encounter this plant. That way, you won’t end up doing something you shouldn’t.


It’s strange how many plants growing in backyards are actually incredibly toxic. You’d think that people would want to steer clear of this stuff, given how dangerous it can be. However, it seems that sometimes being surrounded by pretty flowers is worth the risk of poisoning. Of all the toxic plants grown outside people’s homes, oleander is definitely one of the most poisonous. It contains cardiac glycosides, which have a significant impact on humans when ingested.

Although it very rarely has fatal consequences, it does cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and irregular heart rate. In more severe cases, the toxin can also impact the central nervous system, which leads to seizures, collapsing, and potentially even comas. Not pleasant at all.

Puss moth

People don’t typically look at moths and think that they’re cute. It probably doesn’t help that they’ve been associated with horror films like Silence of the Lambs in the past. However, while they might not be deemed as attractive as butterflies, some of them can be quite alluring. The puss moth, for instance, certainly has quite an eye-catching design.

You could almost be tempted to reach out and touch it, although you shouldn’t. Getting too close to this creature could put it in defense mode. That’s a clear sign that you should walk away because refusing to back down could see you squirted with formic acid. The last time that we checked, getting sprayed with acid wasn’t a good thing.

Devil’s club

The name of this plant definitely suggests that there’s more to it than meets the eye. While it might appear perfectly innocent, it’s actually covered in painful spines. These are primarily found on the stem of the plant, and touching them will put you in a world of pain. Not only will they prick your skin, but they leave that area feeling irritated for quite a while. With that in mind, it’s probably not a good idea to grab a handful of the plant if you’re near one.

Strangely enough, although touching the plant can cause unpleasant pain, eating it could actually be beneficial. Native Americans have reportedly used the stuff in medicine for things like tuberculosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Africanized bee

The bee population is slowly disappearing, and that’s not good for the environment. Of course, just because we should be taking better care of these insects, that doesn’t mean we should necessarily be getting near them. A lot of bees have stingers for a reason, and that’s to protect themselves if they feel threatened.

While a prick from one of these will hurt, it’s not typically fatal. However, that’s just when you’re dealing with honey bees. Africanized bees are a different matter. These insects are far more aggressive and will sting multiple times if threatened. They’re also quicker to react than most honeybees, and they don’t give up the chase very easily. If you upset them, they will have their revenge.


Another mushroom that you would do well to steer clear of is the amanita. Its appearance is one that often springs to mind when people think of mushrooms, which is perhaps a good thing. If it’s easy to identify this fungus, then everyone will know what they need to steer clear of in the wild. Then again, amanita technically covers hundreds of different species, so it would be difficult to recognize all of them.

In that case, it might just be best to avoid wild mushrooms at all costs. The last thing that you want is to eat the wrong thing and get amatoxin poisoning. This can cause problems like liver and kidney failure, which may well have fatal consequences.

Indian red scorpion

More often than not, scorpions are an animal that should be avoided. The sting at the end of their tails is usually packed with toxins that could end a person’s life instantaneously. Although the Indian red scorpion’s poison doesn’t work quite so fast, it can still have this severe side effect. Fatalities have been regularly recorded in countries like India and Nepal over the years, mainly due to things like pulmonary edema.

This is where damage caused to the lungs results in respiratory failure or cardiac arrest. Other unpleasant side effects from an Indian red scorpion’s sting include vomiting, abnormal heart rate, and acute myocarditis. That’s why you should watch yourself if you ever see one of these creatures nearby.

Castor bean

It’s amazing how certain plants can be so useful yet so dangerous at the same time. Take the Ricinus communis, which produces castor beans, for instance. These seeds are the source of castor oil, something that can be used for soaps, paints, perfumes, and so much more. However, while castor beans might be incredibly beneficial, they’re not without their risks. Consuming these could be one of the last things you do if you eat too many of them.

Apparently, no more than eight of them is considered a lethal dose for humans, which is not a lot if you think about it. The danger comes from the toxin ricin, which can also cause nausea, diarrhea, tachycardia, and other unpleasant side effects.


Again, if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, then you might have heard of wolfsbane before. It’s an ingredient used in potions, although there’s nothing magical about the real-life plant. Quite the opposite really. Most species that are classified as wolfsbane are incredibly poisonous, meaning anyone who deals with them has to be very careful. Protective clothing is advised when handling the plant because just one touch can have fatal consequences.

Several years ago, a man lost his life simply from brushing against the stuff while working in someone’s backyard. Apparently, his organs began shutting down just because he’d touched the wolfsbane. If that’s not a warning to stay away from the plant, we don’t know what is.

Tarantula hawk

Tarantulas are animals we don’t care to get near given how fearsome they can be. However, although this animal has tarantula in the name, it’s not an arachnid. It’s actually a spider wasp, which feeds on those intimidating eight-legged creatures. We wouldn’t think anything would dare to take on a tarantula, but these wasps apparently have no fear. They sting their prey to paralyze it, then drag it back to their home where it’s eaten alive from the inside.

This disturbing feeding habit is reason enough to steer clear from the insect. Of course, their sting also warrants keeping them at arm’s length, because it’s apparently almost as painful as that of a bullet ant’s. Thankfully, though, it’s not poisonous.

Rosary pea

How can something so small do so much damage? That’s the question running through our minds after seeing these rosary peas. The seeds aren’t that big really, and their colorful appearance makes them appear harmless. However, that’s not the case at all here. Ingesting just one of them could prove to be a fatal mistake due to the presence of abrin.

This is a toxin that produces similar symptoms to ricin; only it’s a lot more poisonous. It takes a tiny fraction of abrin – about 1/75th – to equal a fatal dosage of ricin. Considering the dangers that these seeds pose, we’d advise staying away from rosary peas at all costs. They don’t seem worth the risk of accidental ingestion.


Belladonna might sound like it’s harmless, but you may reconsider that when you hear what else this plant is called. We wouldn’t say that something known as deadly nightshade was much fun to have around. Indeed, this plant is one of the more toxic ones out there, with both the leaves and the berries containing a variety of tropane alkaloids.

Not only do these result in hallucinations, but they can also cause pregnancy complications, cardiovascular diseases, and psychiatric disorders. Swallowing the berries is something you should never do, regardless of how appetizing they might look. Eating belladonna could change your life forever, and not in a good way. Even if you survive it, the complications from the plant might be permanent.

Octopus stinkhorn

It’s not hard to work out where the octopus part of this fungus’ name comes from. The arms of it look a lot like tentacles, although there’s no risk of getting inked here. Apparently, some people also refer to them as devil’s fingers, which makes sense given they look like red fingers escaping from the ground. We don’t fancy being grabbed and pulled down into the earth, so we’ll keep our distance.

As well as looking disturbing, the fungus also has a horrid smell. People have reported the scent of putrid flesh emanating from this stuff, which is also an excellent reason to stay away. We can’t say we love encountering the smell of rotting bodies when out for a walk.

Porcupine tomato

People know not to touch porcupines because their sharp spines can be incredibly painful. So, with that in mind, it’s probably also wise not to get too handsy with porcupine tomatoes either. Just like the animal, this plant has spines that defend against anyone who comes too close. However, it’s not just a few pricks that you should worry about here. The porcupine tomato is also rather poisonous, with traces of tropane alkaloids found in all parts of it.

Being infected with this stuff can result in similar symptoms as all the other plants that contain this toxin. So, unless you wish to end up in the hospital – or worse, the morgue – you probably shouldn’t go around touching any porcupine tomatoes.

Blue-ringed octopus

It’s hard not to get entranced by the blue-ringed octopus. The design on this aquatic animal is incredibly captivating, and it almost seems like an optical illusion. Unfortunately, while those eye-catching rings might lure you in, touching them could prove to be fatal. The animals are highly venomous and are actually considered one of the greatest threats to humankind.


Of course, they’re only a danger if you disturb them. Keep out of their way, and they won’t bring you any harm. They’ve even developed this luminous skin pattern to alert people of their presence and ensure that everyone keeps their distance. It’s an act of kindness really, even if it does do a poor job of keeping some humans at bay.