Death From Snake Or Spider Bite Is Extremely Rare

“Spiders were around long before humans, and it is likely they will be around in some number far into the future, even if humans are not.” —Leslie Brunetta & Catherine L. Craig, Spider Silk

In A Nutshell

Spiders and snakes creep us out and are probably near the top of many people’s lists of fears. However, their bites are among the least likely killers. In the United States you have about a one in 50 million chance of dying from snake bite. And since the dawn of modern anti-venom, death from spider is almost nonexistent. Even in Australia there have been no reported deaths by spider since 1979.

The Whole Bushel

The things that creep and crawl along the ground—they are almost a primal fear in humans. They slither, they move on way too many legs, it seems unnatural. This has caused us to have great fear of creatures like spiders and snakes. Many people would say they are one of the things they fear the most, and the misconception that you can easily die because of a snake or spider is very widespread. However, you are much more likely to die in an automobile accident, or even get struck by lightning.

When it comes to snakes, many of them are not even venomous and not all of those who are present a significant threat to humans. And while countries like the United States may not have many poisonous spiders, even in Australia they’ve got a pretty good handle on the whole snake bit thing. The reason for this is anti-venom and current medical technology. Unless someone is out in the wilderness and too far away from a hospital, in all likelihood they will be perfectly fine. Venomous snakes are also capable of controlling whether they actually inject poison when they bite you. When they decline to actually poison you, it is known as a “dry bite.” Studies have shown that for some snakes the percentage of dry bites is as high as 50 percent.

As for spiders, many people are under the impression that spider bites are common, but they are not. In truth, that freaky apparatus with too many legs creeping across your floor is much more scared of you than you are of it. After all, humans are quite huge in comparison and spiders gain nothing from attacking us. Experts have found that in many cases people misinterpreted other things as spider bites, and suggested that doctors should spend more time learning what bites are caused by what insects. Of course, some spiders are capable of biting humans and will do so if provoked. However, even in the cases of the most dangerous spiders in the world, they won’t really have a realistic chance of killing you before you can get to a hospital. In Australia there have been no reported spider deaths in many, many years.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get medical attention if you believe you have been bitten by a venomous snake or spider. If that is the case you should call emergency services and get anti-venom for it. The anti-venom is the key though. Now that we have the technology, unless you are miles from any civilization or hospitals, we’ve just about got the poisonous snake and spider problem licked.

Show Me The Proof

University of Florida: Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation: Venomous Snake FAQs
Burke Museum: Myths About “Dangerous Spiders”
Arthropod Ecology: Spiders do not bite

  • Check

    How can anyone be so scared of something so cute? Wook a’dem! Sooo Cyoot!

    • TheMadHatter

      And more deadly than adult spiders and snakes. Yeah. Cute.

  • rincewind

    Sorry but snakes BITES are not the problem. It’s being eaten by one that’s off-putting:

    • Clyde Barrow

      After viewing that pic, I kinda feel bad for the snake. Such dirty feet!

    • woodyishard

      What beautiful she, or possibly he has….that was sarcasm. You can actually see regret in the snakes eyes “what have I done?”

      • Lisa 39

        She probably blew her diet with that meal!

    • TheMadHatter


  • Clyde Barrow

    I’ve been bitten by a Black Widow spider at least twice, usually when cleaning the garage or wood shed. They aren’t aggressive, they usually have to feel very threatened or be hurt (usually pinched between hand and objects).

    It hurts like a bee sting for a few days, but no big deal. Now if you’re allergic, that could be a different story…

    • South Africa 122

      Spiders are not that dangerous period (and certainly nowhere near as deadly as Venomous Snakes)….Even the “most venomous” Spiders barely ever cause life threatening envenomations….I think something like less than 10% of all Wandering Spider/Funnelweb spider bites even require hospilization let alone cause life threatening symptoms…..In the entire 20th century only 100 people were killed by verified Spider bites….compare that to the 20,000-40,000 killed by Snake bites EACH year….

      Snakes seem to be the only venomous animals that commonly/easily cause life threatening and fatal envenomations in Adult humans….When you actually look at studies on venomous animal stings/bites it because obvious that most venomous animals are overrated….Jellyfish/Spiders/Cone Snails etc are hugely overrated (Most Box Jellyfish stings are very mild and don’t require hospitalization as well) in terms of lethality to adult humans….It’s only Snakes that are the big exception…..

  • Lisa 39

    Nice article Gregory but I call bullshit! There is no way that they’re more afraid of me, if they were afraid they’d stay out of sight! I know we’re bigger but we aren’t going to bite them 😀

    Anyway, I live in Ohio and we have poisoness spiders called brown recluse, so my friend Jane moved into a new house, she was there about a year and was sitting on her couch when she suddenly felt a searing pain in her side so she jumped up and saw a spider on the couch, she squished it and went to look at the bite in the mirror, she didn’t see anything so she wasn’t concerned, until the next morning, the whole side of her back was swollen and painful and red, since she’s a secretary at a doctors office she figured she’d just go to work and ask the doc, he took one look and said grab your purse, he escorted her to the er, got her into a room in 5 minutes and had an er doc in there lickity split, he told the er doc brown recluse bite and they had her hooked up to meds shortly after that, both doctors told her, if you feel a bite from a spider you go to the er immediately, they made it very clear that she was lucky to be alive. So again, no they’re not more afraid of me. 🙂

    • TheMadHatter

      I have brown recluse and black widow spiders in the area. Tell someone around here that spiders and snakes aren’t a big cause of death and you’ll be at their funeral soon. Sure, it’s not a big cause of death. But that’s because people know to get treatment. The bites still do happen very often! If you treat spider bites like you would any other simply injury you aren’t going to go very far in life. I go camping often so it’s even more of a problem there. I agree that it isn’t a leading cause of death or anything but I also agree with you that it isnt anything to ignore.

      • Lisa 39

        Spiders are awful, I have another spider story, so the boys ages 15 and 14 last spring, and I were cleaning the basement last spring, 14 starts screaming MOM so I run over and he says there’s a big black spider in the crack in the concrete in the corner, well I didn’t see anything so I went back to what I was doing, 2 minutes later I hear MOM so I walk back over, same thing, big scary spider that I don’t see so I sat down on the floor and waited, I didn’t have to wait long, this bigger than what we usually see, black spider comes walking out of the crack, so I calmly said hey 14, go get a shoe or boot so he starts freaking out, ‘not my shoes, no way’ so I said ‘just get a damn shoe and quit freaking out like a girl’ so he grabs a boot and tried to hand it to me, I said ‘no way, your a guy and its the guys job to kill the bugs’ so he dropped it and ran upstairs, chicken, so I grabbed the boot and squished the spider so aggressively that I couldn’t tell if it had widow markings. I haven’t seen one like that since then so I’m happy about that, point being, you never know where they’ll turn up or how they’ll act, if you get bitten seek medical help immediately, thank you hatter, I really

        • Lisa 39

          Stupid phone, I really don’t think people take itty bitty spiders seriously enough, I hope our horror stories help, if not I have a few more, the west Virginia story is the worst.

          • TheMadHatter

            It’s weird that in places with more spiders, people are more inclined to ignore them. Here you have people who are deathly afraid of spiders and people who see them so often that they don’t bother them, which is me sometimes. It can be bad, especially since long leg spiders are around here. A lot of times my mind already thinks long leg and just tells whoever is freaking out that it won’t hurt them. Usually I’m right but sometimes it’s a brown recluse and that doesn’t ever go over well. But I still stay away from spiders when possible. I’ve woken up to see a black widow above me on the inside of the tent several times. Never been bitten but it is not a pleasant sight.

          • Lisa 39

            That’s not a great way to wake up either, I’d be running and screaming like a girl, or a 14 yr old boy lol, I have a problem with spiders on my back porch all summer, I’m sure that they’re all harmless but if I don’t keep using a broom or dust mop to clear out the webs my house is covered and looks haunted and creepy, although I have seen some beautiful webs on my clothesline in the summer, early in the morning when the sun first comes up while the dew is still on them is the best, but I wouldn’t be happy if I woke up with one over my head.

    • maybe

  • DenishaTravers

    its very heavy pain when the snake and spider bite a Human Body.

  • oouchan

    Love snakes, hate spiders. Glad to know I won’t keel over from a spider bite, but I would be seriously creeped out for a while.


  • Doone00

    When my dad was young man, a black widow got into his underpants in an outhouse at a construction site. I’m actually surprised I was born.

  • Guest

    There was a death last year in Australia, it is rare but you need to check your sources,…. AND a far few since 1979… sloppy

    • Gregory Myers

      I do not state that there have been no reported snake bite deaths in Australia since, only spider bite deaths.

  • South Africa 122

    Snakes cause a huge amount of deaths each year in places like India/Sri Lanka/Burma and the African continent…Literally thousands of death each year from Snakebites in these countries…Snakes are absolutely dangerous animals to humans and their venom can harm humans much more so than most venomous animals can

    Spiders are a completely different story….Even the so called “deadly” Spiders like Funnel Webs and Wandering spiders give minor bites the vast majority of time….I’ve read studies that state that only like 5-10 percent of Funnel Web bites even require any form of hospitalization let alone intensive care…..Same goes for Wandering Spider bites they are mild usually…

    I think most Venomous animals are vastly overrated (Snakes being the huge exception) in the danger their venom poses to humans….Most Box Jellyfish stings “the so called most venomous animal on earth” are minor and not even life threatening to a young child….Only a handful of people have ever died of a cone snail sting etc etc etc…It seems that Serpents are the only venomous creatures that commonly cause fatalities and life threatening envenomations in healthy adult humans…