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11 venomous animals of Arizona

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PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Living in Arizona isn’t all about relaxing by the pool or hiking in the mountains. Arizonans must be mindful of creepy creatures that lurk in the dark... or even in their homes.

Here are the top venomous animals that call Arizona home.

Arizona bark scorpion


There are three types of scorpions in this photo(from left): the giant hairy scorpion, the striped tail scorpion and the bark scorpion. (Source: University of Arizona)

Scorpions may be the first critter that come to mind when one thinks of our desert home here in Arizona. The Arizona bark scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in North America. It is usually skinnier and smaller compared to other less toxic scorpions. Unfortunately, it’s also the best climber. 

[RELATED: 8 scorpion facts to make your skin crawl]

While fatalities are rare, a sting to a small child, senior citizen, or a person with a compromised immune system can be fatal. There are more than 30 species of scorpions that call Arizona home.  



The Desert Diamondback Rattlesnake in striking position. 

The Grand Canyon State could also be known as the Rattlesnake State. Arizona is home to no less than 13 species of rattlesnakes, more than any other state. The Mohave rattlesnake is the most toxic of the species, but the Western diamond-backed rattlesnake is responsible for more bites and deaths, than any other type of rattlesnake. Less than 1 percent of rattlesnake bites are deadly, but if you do suffer a bite from a rattlesnake, stay calm and go to the nearest hospital.

Arizona Coral Snake

Coral Snake

Coral Snake (Source: University of Arizona)

The venom of this snake is similar to that of the cobra. However, due to the small size of the snake (less venom), smaller mouth, and small fangs (less effective means of delivery), the venom does not pose as much danger to humans as that of rattlesnakes. 

Gila Monster

Gila monster

Gila monsters chew their victims, holding on to pass their venom into the wound (Credit: Matthijs Kuijpers,

The only venomous lizard native to the United States lives right here in Arizona. Gila monsters are nocturnal measuring up to 21.5 inches in length. The bite of a Gila monster is very painful. They bite hard and latch onto their victims, gnawing to get the venom into the wound. But they’re not very fast and usually only bite in self-defense.

Africanized Bees - Killer Bees

Africanized bees

Africanized bees are extremely aggressive and are known to follow their victims for great distances. 

These insects are probably the smallest creature on the list, but probably the deadliest. Not all bees are created equal, and Africanized bees are just mean.

They’re so mean that they are better known by another name: killer bees. Every year, these bees attack in swarms and kill people, especially if they feel their hive is under attack. 

Black Widow spider

Black widow spider

Black widow's marking on their abdomen is easy to identify, the red hour-glass shape means danger! (Source:

Plenty of people fear spiders, for good reason. The black widow is the most venomous spider in North America. The female black widow, marked by the red shaped hourglass on it's underside, are aggressive with a powerful bite. Black widow venom is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. Despite it's potency, most people bitten usually don't suffer serious injuries, according to National Geographic. 

Arizona Brown Recluse spider

Brown recluse spider

Brown recluse spider

Another spider to look out for is the Arizona brown recluse spider. This spider has markings that resemble the shape of a violin, but its bite is nothing to play around with. According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the bite of a brown recluse spider is very dangerous to humans and can result in amputation or death. However, the most common reaction is a sore at the site of the bite, which sometimes takes eight hours to develop.


Desert Animals - Tarantula in the Superstitions

A male desert tarantula sits on a gravel surface in the Sonoran desert. (Credit: Jeanette Brown, via 123RF)

According to the University of Arizona, these are the gentle giants of the spider world. But when adequately provoked, they will bite and their impressive fangs can produce painful puncture wounds. Tarantula bites are unlikely to cause serious health problems to people. 

There are 30 species of tarantulas in Arizona. The Desert Tarantula (Aphonpelma chalcodes) is the most common.

Desert Centipede

Desert centipede

Desert centipede

It has lots of legs and it’s a creepy crawly you don’t want near you. The desert centipede can grow up to eight inches in length. The bite from this creature is painful, but usually doesn’t require a trip to the emergency room (unless the victim is allergic). Deaths are rare.

Kissing Bug

Kissing Bug

Kissing Bug (Credit: David Schneider via 123RF)

This is one bug that deserves no love. The kissing bug got its name because it bites people around their lips while they sleep. Usually, people don’t wake up while the kissing bug feasts around their lips. While not venomous, the kissing bug defecates into the bite wounds. Their remains contain a parasite that causes Chagas disease

People who've been bitten may have a wound around at the bite site and may have swelling around the eyes.

According to Maricopa County, 20-30% of infections cause serious issues involving the heart or digestive system.

Blister Beetle

Blister Beetle

Blister Beetle (Source:

Blister beetles in Arizona are some of the largest in the world. They can grow up to a couple of inches long. What makes them dangerous is their ability to pop their own blood vessels in leg joints which allows a yellowish blood to ooze out. That yellow blood creates blisters similar to poison ivy.

Phoenix mom hospitalized after encounter with blister beetle

Dr. Joanna Woods bitten by blister beetle. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)


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