Dangerous Animal Of The Week: Killer Cone Snail

This is a recurring PGP series. Catch up with all installments of Dangerous Animal Of The Week by visiting the archive.


Every Thursday, we take a look at one of the most dangerous animals in the world. Avoid this gnarly creature, and stay safe out there in the wild.

A snail? Yeah, a fucking snail. Some of the most dangerous shit in the world is the least assuming. The mere fact that you’d never think twice about picking up a cone snail is part of what makes these little turds so deadly. Found chilling in coral reefs or lying in wait for prey beneath sand on the ocean floor, they can be up to eight inches long (fully erect), and are just as slow as you’d imagine, but if you get stung by one of these sneaky bastards, you’re probably cooked. Pay attention. I’m trying to save your stupid life.

What is so scary about a damn cone snail?

Some folks call this thing the “cigarette snail.” Why? Because if you’re stung by one you have roughly enough time to rip one cigarette before you stop breathing. That’s real. The killer cone snail packs a harpoon that it shoots at prey through something called a “proboscis,” which basically looks like a tiny Star Wars monster morphed with an uncircumcised penis. Cone snails can get aggressive when provoked, and their harpoons can pierce wetsuits, which isn’t great news for divers. Inside said harpoon is one powerful bitch of a venom. Some scientists say one drop of this shit is enough to end twenty human lives, and, as we know, scientists study science.

Most venomous creatures have simple venom. Not the cone snail. Its venom is crazy and made up of over 50,000 distinct toxic components. You know how when you were a little kid you’d make a “suicide” by getting a little bit of every soda from the soda fountain? That’s how killer cone snails load up their harpoons. They’re manufacturing all kinds of crazy ass venoms and using different mixtures with each injection, which explains why there is no antivenom. All you can do is attempt to keep the victim of a killer cone snail sting’s heart beating by any means necessary until the venom wears off, which is far from an easy task.

There are at least 30 recorded instances of people being offed by cone snails. Still think this is a joke? Can you imagine being murdered by a snail?

“Did you hear Carl died?”

“Omg no what happened?”

“Snail got him.”

When you’re dead and gone, everyone will be laughing at you because you’re the loser that got taken out by a snail. The good news is you might not be in too much pain while you’re croaking because, ironically, cone snail venom contains proteins which have potential as pain-killing drugs that can be up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine. (Cue some idiot doper looking for a cone snail so he can get catch that high.)

What should I do if I encounter a cone snail?

This should go without saying, but don’t pick it up. Don’t pet it. Don’t look at it. Light a cigarette and pray. And next time you’re on your front porch and see a regular snail and you’re about to stomp it out or pick it up and chunk it, think about all the negative snail karma you’re about to accumulate and the fact that one day a killer cone snail could come for your ass as a result.

Check out last week’s dangerous animal, the Australian box jellyfish


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Ross Bolen

Ross Bolen is a New York Times Bestselling author, co-host of the Oysters, Clams & Cockles: Game of Thrones podcast, co-host of the Back Door Cover sports podcast, 2017 Masters attendee, bigger and more loyal Rockets, Astros and Texans fan than you, cheese enchilada aficionado, and nap god.

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