Teacher’s Questions for Venomous Animals


Before reading:

  1. List three animals that use venom, a family of poisons. How does each animal deliver its venom?

During reading:

  1. How do most venomous reptiles deliver their venom? Name the telltale feature through which venom typically passes into unlucky victims.
  2. Where is venom stored in a Komodo dragon? How does venom pass from this body part into another animal?
  3. For what purpose do Komodo dragons use their venom?
  4. What is a toxin?
  5. What type of toxin is found in hooded pitohuis? In what other animal is this toxin found?
  6. Where is this toxin found in hooded pitohuis?
  7. What effect does the toxin have on animals that eat these birds?
  8. How do hooded pitohuis (and several other venomous animals) acquire this toxin?
  9. From where does the African crested rat get its venom?
  10. From where does a male platypus get its venom, and how is it delivered to the animal’s victim?
  11. Who is the intended victim, and what advantage does the male platypus get from using this poison?
  12. What do toxins mimic in the body?
  13. Give two specific examples of how toxins disrupt biological processes.
  14. Name one kind of venom that scientists are exploring for medicinal use — and for what medical condition.
  15. Name one kind of medicine that is based on a venom and already widely used. What does it treat, and how?

After reading:

  1. Which animal were you most surprised to learn is venomous? Why?


  1. Do you think society should try to protect venomous creatures — even those that are deadly to humans — whose toxins could be used for medicinal purposes? Give at least two reasons for your decision.