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Japan, Venomous Snakes, Poisonous Spiders and Deadly Bugs and Insects

Updated on September 1, 2015

Are there any venomous snakes in Japan ? Yes, there are.

For many years, Japan has been advertised as one of the cleanest countries in the world. A way of life admired by many, envied by others, and yet not known for its' deadly islands dwellers.

Japan is in Asia, where some of the worlds deadliest reptiles and disease bearing insects reside. Death by venomous snake bite, amputation caused by a poisonous spider bite, and life long disease from a small insect bite is not uncommon.

On Japan alone, there are over 1,500 reported victims of snake bites every year.


Mamushi Snake

The highly venomous Mamushi snake is a member of the vicious pit viper family. This is the most lethal snake in Japan and is also responsible for most of the reported snake attacks.

Annually, 10 people die as a result from venom injection solely down to the Mamushi snake in Japan.

The largest recorded specimen was just over 3 feet in length, whereas the average is only approximately 81cm. Never be deceived by their size, even a smaller Mamushi snake in Japan can deliver a high dose of venom which can kill a fully grown human.

This venomous snake can be found in wetlands, rocky areas, and open fields as well as forested areas.

Bite and Venom

Classed as Japans' most deadly snake, the venom from the Mamushi snake is mainly haemotoxic

Once bitten, victims will feel severe pain around the bite wound and localised swelling. In extreme cases, allergic reactions may cause obscene swelling along an entire limb.

Sweating and headaches may follow along with nausea and vomiting. An elevated heart beat and possible shortness of breath occurs as the venom spreads.

Loss of consciousness or dizzy spells may come before a coma and possible renal failure. After this, the victim could die if anti-venom is not administered.


Habu Snake

Several different species of this pit viper snake can also be found on islands around Japan, including Okinawa, Tokara, and the Ryukyu Islands.

Although the Japanese make wine from this snake, its venom is highly potent.

Specimens have been found to be almost 8 feet in length on Okinawa, althouth they only average between 4 - 5 feet long.

Usually brown to olive green in colour with a lighter white-ish under belly. Nocturnal by nature, this venomous snake lives on rats and other vermin.

Can be found close to human habitats where a good food supply can be found thanks to trash left outside.

Bites and Venom

The long reach of this versatile snake makes it very dangerous. It will enter houses and out buildings in search of food.

On the Amami Islands, 2 people per 1000 are bitten annually, with a 1% mortality rate. The venom is haemotoxic.

People whom have been bitten and injected by this snake may suffer from permanent disabilities including losing chunks of muscle and even an entire limb.

Dissability problems with human victims runs at approximately 8%. Considering there are almost 130 million people living in Japan, not including tourists, essentially over 1000 people per year will be affected, or killed, by the Habu snake.


Huntsman Spider

An eight eyed spider which can grow up to 1 foot in diameter. Not classed as seriously dangerous, but they will deliver a severe defensive bite.

Enters many human habitats, especially garages, and is quite often found inside the home in rural areas, and occasionally in the city.

These spiders, although not to dangerous, can give a very nasty shock when encountered. Their leg span and appearance will give a nasty fright to anyone.

Bite victims will feel pain and local swelling very soon after the bite. Nausea, headaches and possible vomiting may follow.

Unpredictable infections and allergic reactions can cause major skin, blood, or organ complications. Always seek medical attention if bitten.


Redback Spider

In 1995, the first ever discovery in Japan on this invasive species, was made in Osaka. Since then, hundreds more sightings and discoveries of the redback spider have been recorded.

Coming over from Australia via imported goods, the redback spider is classed as poisonous and bites thousands of people every year.

Many bites have occurred in the genital area whilst victims have been using the toilet.

There have been no recorded fatalities as a direct result of the redback spider either in Australia or Japan, but pets have died from bites.

The venom is neurotoxic. Victims will feel continuous and ever increasing pain for over 24 hours. Sweating and vomiting will follow, as will severe headaches and a possible agitated state.

Swelling where limbs become 2 to 3 times the normal size have also been recorded.

Pain and symptoms of the bite have been known to last up to seven weeks after the initial bite. Abdominal problems may also develop.

Anti venom is readily available at all hospitals to counteract the symptoms.



This giant centipede can grow to a very impressive 38 cm. The death of a 7 year old girl in the Philippines, who died 29 hours after being bitten, was due to a species of the giant centipede.

Regarded in Japan as 'very dangerous', it can be found almost anywhere from houses, outbuildings, and even around supermarkets.

Their tremendous speed of nearly 0.5 m per second makes them difficult to catch. And once caught, many Japanese nationals will burn them as their shell is quite tough.

Bitten victims will feel the initial bite as it is very painful. The area or a large part of the limb will become red and slight swelling may occur.

Nausea with vomiting, dizziness and fever coud follow, even hours after the bite. An elevated heart beat with skin necrosis around the bite can follow in the coming weeks.

The victim will feel weak during the recovery process, which can take up to two months.


Giant Hornet

A very deadly man killer. The ultimate stinging insect in Japan which kills 30 -40 people every year, is the Giant Hornet ( Suzumebachi ).

Growing to an impressive 1.8 inches long, with a wingspan greater than 2.4 inches, these hornets are also beneficial as they eat crop pests.

European honey bees have been introduced into Japan to help with pollicisation Unfortunately, a single Giant Hornet can kill 30 bees in under a minute. 30 Giant Hornets have been known to kill an entire hive of 30,000 bees in less than 3 hours.

In rural areas of Japan, Hornet nests, which are usually high up in trees, are to be avoided at all costs. They are attracted to black clothing and perfumes.

These hornets can even spray their venom, causing temporary blindness. Very aggressive, if one hornet is agitate, it sends out a signal and over 500 hornets could go on the attack within moments.

Being stung once may require hospitalisation if an allergic reaction is encountered. The venom is injected by a 6mm long stinger, which will then rapidly progress through the blood system attacking the nervous system.

Victims will feel the sting immediately, as it is very painful. Local swelling, palpitations and sweating are all symptoms of being stung.

Breathing problems, kidney failure, and death may also follow, even if anti venom has been administered.


Electric Caterpillar

The denkimush, Japanese eclectic Caterpillar, does not actually produce any electric. The defensive chemical it releases when touched feels like being pricked with a needle with an electric charge.

Only approximately 25 mm long, not lethal, but not nice.


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    • thealpaca profile image


      4 years ago from Osaka

      very interesting


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