05 April 2021

The pain of a stonefish sting

"I interviewed a lady at St John's Ambulance about snakebites and her experience. She said that a surprising number of people are bitten in their house or while trying to kill the snake. She also said that many people don't even know they have been bitten - they've been on a camping trip and feel sick and think it's food poisoning, until the teeth marks are spotted days layer or it felt like a branch brushing against their leg. Even the guy in Hobart said that you'd think it would really hurt, but he barely felt it and it latched onto him and was pumping the venom in. My favourite quote was about stonefish, which are a tropical reef fish with spines on their back and are excruciatingly painful when trodden on and nothing, even opiates, will relieve the pain - if someone phones in and thinks it's a stonefish, if there isn't someone screaming in the background, it's not a stonefish."
A hat tip to reader Jim for the quote.  Photo via Ocean Conservancy.


  1. Yeah I have had snakes and been bitten several times, mostly for me doing dumb things. Not venomous but the bite part should feel about the same. It does not hurt much, less then a bee sting to be sure, but it is very startling because it is so fast. One moment,fine and then, bang, there is a snake attached to you. Much faster then you can react.

  2. Having spent my pre-teen years on various parts of the Queensland coast, I have an aversion to going into the sea. These days I live in New Zealand, over 2,000 kilometres south-east of Australia, but my fears act as an insurance to keep me dry, alive and pain free, as the seawater here is undergoing a heat wave, which means its not if, ... but when, ... the stone fish, sharks and salt water crocodiles make this coast a living death trap too.

  3. Bill Connolly on Australian sea life - Stonefish is the worst pain known to man.


  4. I came within an ace of stepping on one when visiting North West Island off the East coast of Australia. I was wading through the lagoon and, as my foot came down, the stonefish scooted out from right under it. A real near miss!


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