By Cailey Rizzo
January 31, 2019

There’s one rule in nature that is best left obeyed: don’t touch something if you don’t know what it is.

According to The Points Guy, while walking along the beaches of Australia, a tourist came across a tiny octopus. They took the animal in their hand, let it crawl around a bit and took a video before releasing it back into the water. They then posted the video to TikTok, which was then reposted on Reddit. Australians began to congregate in the comments section, quickly noting that the animal was a blue-ringed octopus, famous for its venom 11 times more powerful than cyanide. According to Ocean Conservancy, one tiny blue-ringed octopus “carries enough venom to kill twenty-six adult humans within minutes.”

And there is no antidote.

If that bit of information isn’t terrifying enough, consider that the blue-ringed octopus has a bite so painless that victims don’t even know they’ve been bitten. It’s only until hours later when symptoms set in — muscle numbness, nausea, vision loss, blindness, loss of motor skills and, in extreme cases, respiratory arrest — that they realize.

If a blue-ringed octopus is spotted, it’s best to quickly leave the vicinity. In the event of a suspected blue-ringed octopus bite, Australian authorities suggest calling emergency services immediately. Although there is no antidote, people can be saved if medical assistance is started immediately, according to Ocean Conservancy. No human deaths have reported from a blue-ringed octopus since the 1960s.

However, there is no need for hysteria regarding the animal. The blue-ringed octopus is not known to be aggressive and will only bite in self-defense. But an unsuspecting tourist scooping it out of the water could be considered a threat.

It’s a general rule of thumb that animals with wild, technicolor spots or patterns tend to be poisonous. As always, it’s best to avoid direct skin contact with unknown animals, especially if you’re on your own in an unfamiliar location. If you’re someone who explores a new locale through its wildlife, consider joining a tour with an environmental leader, who can advise on which animals and plants are safe to interact with and which are not.