What Is the Difference Between Venomous and Poisonous?

by Debbie Hadley, ThoughtCo

The terms “venomous” and “poisonous” are adjectives applied to various animals that are often used interchangeably, but the words have different meanings in biology. Both refer to the presence of toxic substances and their dangers to humans and other creatures. However, venoms are delivered actively and poisons are delivered passively.

Venomous Organisms 

A venom is a secretion that an animal produces in a gland for the purpose of injecting into another animal. It is actively introduced into a victim by means of a specialized apparatus. Venomous organisms use a wide variety of tools to inject venom: barbs, beaks, fangs or modified teeth, harpoons, nematocysts (found in jellyfish tentacles), pincers, proboscises, spines, sprays, spurs, and stingers.

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