Wild Fact #268 – Slow and Steady Kills the Fish – Geographic Cone Snail

Geographic Cone Snail

Photograph by Kerry Matz – Click for source

Today’s featured animal was suggested by Jamie and I think it may be one of my favourite suggestions to date. It is always fun to talk about deadly, venomous animals like the Geographic Cone Snail. Wait! What?!? Deadly, venomous and snail all in the same sentence? That must be a typo, right? Believe it or not folks, this predatory marine snail is definitely one you will want to stay away from as their bite has been known to cause paralysis and even death amongst the human race. Yep, you could be killed by a snail so you need to be careful if you are swimming around reefs in the Indo Pacific area.

The Deadliest Snail

I am sure you are all wondering about the toxic nature of this interesting little snail so let’s address that first. The Geographic Cone Snail has a venomous concoction composed of 100’s of differed chemicals, which as the power to kill a human within minutes. In fact, a common name for this snail is the “Cigarette Snail” as after being stung, you will have just enough time to smoke a cigarette before dying. While this may be an exaggeration it does highlight the potency of this Cone Snail’s venom. To make matters worse, there is not antidote for a Cone Snail bite so the only treatment is to keep the person alive long enough for the venom to wear off.

Geographic Cone Snail

Photo from Wikimedia

World’s Worst Alarm Clock

The Geographic Cone Snail isn’t venomous just to make you scared to touch anything while snorkelling. Nope, they need this venom in order to survive. Not only is it a great defence mechanism but they need it to subdue their prey, which is generally small fish. That’s right, a snail actually feeds on fish. Typically, they will sneak up on a sleeping fish and use a harpoon like structure filled with deadly toxins to paralyze their meal before swallowing them alive. This is definitely not a way that any animal would want to wake up. This is also one of the reasons why I am happy I don’t live in the sea…it says a lot about how tough the ocean is to live in when you can’t even trust a snail.

To finish off today’s Wild Fact, I highly suggest watching the short video clip below about the Cone Snail. Another great video can be found at the BBC website located here. Enjoy!

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