The use of venom is common among insects, snakes, and
other animal families. no birds are known to be venomous,
and there are only a few species of venomous mammals.
Venomous bites are found in a few species of small
mammals called shrews. they use their venomous saliva to
paralyze or kill prey, such as mice, fish, frogs, and newts.
they also will bite in self-defense, leaving their attacker
with pain and swelling. Another mammal with venomous
saliva for killing prey is the solenodon. This animal looks
like a shrew. it lives only on the islands of cuba and hispaniola
in the West indies.
The platypus of Australia is also venomous. this duckbilled,
beaver-tailed mammal has no teeth, but the male
platypus has venomous spurs on its hind legs. they are
used for defense and for fighting with other males. The
venom is said to be strong enough to kill a dog.
The slow loris, a chubby, big-eyed animal of southeast
Asia, also uses venom to protect itself. A loris’s venom
gland is in its arm. to use the venom, the loris licks
its arm. then, when it bites, the mixture of saliva and
venom seeps out from between its teeth into the wound.
the smell of the venomous saliva repels predators, such
as bears. this may be why a female loris spreads saliva
on her young when she needs to leave them untended
for a while.