Difference between poison and toxin

What's the Difference Between Venom and Poison?

difference between poison and toxin

Feb 27, A single drop of the inland taipan's venom can kill humans. And if it bites you, make sure you don't say "I've been poisoned!" You haven't.


Poisons are substances that cause harm to organisms when sufficient quantities are absorbed, inhaled or ingested. A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms. Some poisons make an organism sick, others may cause it to die and yet others may lead to subtle changes in health that may not be noticed for years. Toxicology is the science of poisons. It is the study of harmful effects of chemicals on living organisms.

Toxin, venom and poison… are they just different words for the same thing? The answer is… sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Has that made it any clearer for you? There has to be a more simple explanation. The truth is that these words are often used to mean the same thing, sometimes all three words can be interchanged, sometimes not. They do all tend to have a similarly negative effect on the body, by one means or another, they impact or disrupt the biological function of the affected organism.

Hemlock is poisonous, but rattlesnakes are venomous. Both terms refer to toxic chemicals, so what's the difference between poison and venom? The difference is entirely in how the species uses its defense mechanism. If it's injected—via a snake's bite or a bee's sting or the spiney protrusions on a frog's head —it's a venom. If it's secreted through the skin, as in the case of poison dart frogs or a few species of birds , it's a poison.

Bees , spiders , and snakes all have reputations for making us sick with their bites. Is it because they're all poisonous? Would you believe that almost none of the bees, spiders, or snakes in North America are poisonous? It's true. First of all, we can call all of them toxic.

What’s the Difference Between Venomous and Poisonous?

Image adapted from: H. Krisp; CC BY 3. Poison is a toxin that gets into the body via swallowing, inhaling or absorption through the skin.



  1. Somer M. says:

  2. Dalila O. says:

    We have done a number of posts on horrifying creatures, plants, and other organisms that have the ability to kill you.

  3. Neil T. says:

    Poison vs. Venom - Curious

  4. Yerimén B. says:

    Venomous or Poisonous?

  5. Jessenia A. says:

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