ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Venomous or Poisonous Mammal? The Hispaniolan Solenodon Has Venom

Updated on April 27, 2012
Spider Fangs Up Close and Personal - This picture gives me the chills.
Spider Fangs Up Close and Personal - This picture gives me the chills. | Source

When I think of venomous, the first creature that comes to mind is the snake . . . then spiders, centipedes, and scorpions. But until recently, I hadn’t thought of a mammal as being venomous. But I have discovered that there are venomous mammals, several in fact.

First of all, what does venomous mean? Merriam Webster defines it as, “full of venom: as poisonous; or having a venom-producing gland and able to inflict a poisoned wound <venomous snakes>.”

Venom is usually delivered through fangs, such as those that are possessed by a snake or spider. Bees and wasps deliver their venom through a stinger. How would a mammal deliver venom? That will depend on the mammal. Let’s take a look.


Hispaniolan Solenodon

The Hispaniolan Solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus), also known as the Haitian Solenodon or Agouta, can only be found in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and on an island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola. They were unknown to the science community until 1833.

The solenodon’s habitat is generally dense, humid forests and brushy areas, as well as around plantations. They are nocturnal and have highly developed senses of touch, smell, and hearing. They are also fairly rare. They spend their days in burrows, hollow logs or trees, caves, or cracks in rocks, venturing out only at night.

The solenodon looks like an oversized shrew that is black to reddish-brown. It has no hair on its tail, legs, snout and ear tips. It typically weighs between 8 and 14 ounces (0.6 and 1.0 kg) but has been known to reach 2.2 pounds in weight. It is 11-13” (28-33 cm) long with a tail that is an additional 10” (25 cm) long. Its head is disproportionately large to its body, and it has an elongated snout.

It has a groove in its incisors through which venom travels from a gland in its jaw. It is this feature from which it obtained its name. Solenodon is derived from a Greek word meaning “grooved tooth”. Unlike many animals that are venomous, the solenodon is not immune to its own venom and is able to kill others of its species with a very minor wound.

While there are other poisonous/venomous mammals, the solenodon is the only living mammal that is able to inject venom similar to the way that snakes do, through their teeth. Other poisonous mammals deliver their venom more passively.

Solenodon females can have two litters a year with 1-3 young per litter. Because the female only has two teats, unusually located near its buttocks, only two young generally survive. The young may remain with their parents while subsequent litters are born and raised, and as many as 8 may share the same burrow/tunnel system.


When excited, the solenodon has been heard making noises that sound like a grunting pig, or at other times, bird-like cries. However, when it is pursued it will remain motionless and hide its head, making it very easy to capture. (Sounds like the proverbial ostrich.)

The solenodon gathers food by digging extensive tunnel systems, then foraging for its food from the surrounding soil. It eats millipedes, beetles, earthworms, snails, centipedes, spiders, scorpions, and small reptiles (lizards).

It has no known natural enemies; however, dogs, cats, and the small Asian mongoose have been introduced to the island and have had a major impact on the solenodon population. It is considered to be critically endangered. Having had no natural enemies, it did not adapt to defend itself or evade predators. It is slow and clumsy, running on its toes with a stiff, clumsy waddle. When it does try to increase its speed, it tends to trip over its own feet and tumble head over heels. It is claimed by the locals that the solenodon will never run in a straight line, but follows an erratic zigzag path.

Cuban Solenodon

The Cuban Solenodon, also known as the Alminqui, is also venomous. Since it was discovered in 1861, only 37 have ever been captured. The Cuban Solenodon is even more rare than the Hispaniolan Solenodon. This solenodon measures 16-22 inches (40-55 cm) long from nose to tail, and weighs approximately 24 ounces (710 g). It looks like a large brown to black rat with a long snout and a long, hairless, scaly tail! The Cuban Solenodon only has one litter per year with 1-3 young per litter. It has also suffered greatly because of the introduced species (dogs, cats, and mongoose) and is almost extinct.

Additional Images

It was difficult to find pictures of living actual solenodons that were not copyrighted. To view actual images of the solenodon, click on the links listed below, then click the back arrow to return here to look at the next image.

Solenodon image 1, click here.

Cuban solenodon, click here.

Hispaniolan solendon, click here.

For a really great picture, click here.

They are not alone . . .

Other poisonous mammals include: the shrew, the platypus and the loris.

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)

Your Future is Waiting! Do you feel you have great information or stories to share with others? Sign Up Here. . . It’s quick, easy and free to join HubPages!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)