Is Bunny Ear Cactus Poisonous? ( Don’t Underestimate Its Tinyness)

How to Water Bunny Ear Cactus?

The Bunny Ear Cactus, also known as the Opuntia microdasys, is a type of cactus that is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States. 

The plant gets its name from its distinctive shape, which resembles a bunny’s ears. The cactus is not poisonous to humans or animals, but it does contain small spines that can cause irritation if they come into contact with skin. 

If you’re thinking about adding a Bunny Ear Cactus to your home, be sure to keep it out of reach of small children and pets who might be tempted to play with the plant.

It has no spines, but instead has numerous white or yellow (golden) glochids (hair-like prickles), 2–3 mm long in dense clusters; these detach very easily on being touched and can cause considerable skin irritation, so the plants must be treated with caution. 

Scientific name

Opuntia microdasys

Other names

  • Golden bristle cactus, polka dot cactus


  • Dense shrub 40–60cm tall, occasionally more.
  • Stems are pad-like, 6–15cm long, and 4–12cm wide.
  • No central stem, pads always grow in pairs, giving the appearance of bunny ears.
  • Has no spines, but instead has numerous white or yellow glochids (hair-like prickles), 2–3mm long, in dense clusters.
  • The flowers are yellow, and 3cm wide.
  • Fruits are fleshy, globular, 3cm long, and red-purple.

Can You Touch Bunny Ear Cactus?

 The bunny ear cactus is a native of the desert regions of North, Central and South America. Its name comes from its white, felt-like spines that give it the appearance of a rabbit’s ears. The plant itself does not develop spines, but instead grows glochids, which are short whitish brown prickles. These still have the ability to bite, so caution is urged when handling the cactus.

What do you do if you want a bunny ear cactus but live in a humid climate? There is a way to grow them indoors or in an exterior location regardless of climate. It takes some patience for this method to work properly. First, the plant must be left outside during the summer in direct sun and heat without water. In fact, watering will only kill the plant at this point because it needs dry conditions to encourage root growth. Next, bring it inside in late fall through winter and put it in a sunny window where it can get at least six hours of sunlight per day.


Is Bunny Ear Cactus Poisonous to Humans?

Bunny ear cactus is not dangerous for people, but it does have certain features which can make it rather unpleasant for humans to come in contact with. It has tiny green glochids, which are spikes in its skin. These, of course, are not poisonous.

 For humans, they can be a problem because they will stick onto your clothes and body and cause irritation if they get into your hair, mouth, or eyes. The irritation can get so bad that you will have to wash them out.

 Some types of glochid-producing plants even produce very painful welts when they come in contact with your skin. So if you are planning on picking up one of these cactus plants to bring home with you, be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing. If you get hurt by this plant, simply wash the area and apply some antihistamine cream to soothe the pain and any swelling that occurs.

How Do I Remove Glochids?

 While I was walking through a botanical garden, I happened upon a flowering cactus that seemed to have tiny hairs protruding from its skin. What are those? Do they hurt? Should I worry about them?  Apparently, the most effective method of removing glochids is a two-step process. First, remove as many as you can with tweezers. Second, wrap the affected area in gauze and soak the gauze thoroughly in white glue. Wait for the glue to dry and peel off the gauze.

If you don’t want to try this at home, professional removal can be done by a doctor or by a trained salon worker. Though glochids are usually not harmful, there’s always a risk that they’ll cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. Also, you can test your tolerance by trying to pull one out—if it hurts, then it’s time to get help!

Are Glochids Poisonous?

Glochids (pronounced glot-ids) are tiny, pointy, and sometimes very painful little spines that grow on certain kinds of cactus. Glochids are typically found on bunny ear cactus, prickly pear cactus, nopales (prickly pear pads), and various other spineless varieties of cacti.

“Glochid” is an Anglicized spelling of the Greek word “glokhos,” which means “spiny.” Glochids are sometimes called “cactus needles,” but they’re technically not needles at all—they’re actually modified leaves. Glochids look similar to tiny spines or thorns, but they’re actually barbed and easily detached from the cactus plant. If you get these little barbed, irritating spines in your eye, serious injury, or even blindness could result. If you get glochids in your eyes, seek medical assistance immediately.

If you do get one in your skin, remove it as soon as possible—don’t pull it out straight away since this causes more damage; instead, use tweezers to slide it out sideways. If you don’t have tweezers handy, use the edge of a credit card or some other flat piece of plastic to push it out,

What Happens If You Don’t Remove Glochids?

Glochids are spines on some cacti, and they’re not easily removed. The tips of the glochids have barbs that stick them to the skin and make them difficult to pull out. Even when you try to pull a glochid out, it can break off into the skin or remain embedded. Removing all of the tiny spines is important because even one left in the skin can produce a stinging, burning, itching feeling combined with dermatitis reactions. These may be blisters, pustules, or welts that are overly sensitive and painful. This condition can persist for up to 9 months if the glochids are not removed.

Do Glochids Go Away on Their Own?

Glochids are also called “cactus needles” or “cactus spines.” They’re different from the long, sharp spines that stay on the plant and protect it from animals eating it. 

Glochids break off readily and work their way into the skin, causing itching and irritation that can, in sensitive individuals, last days, weeks or even months.

 You rarely recall actually running into glochids, as they seem harmless. But once one is embedded in your skin, there’s no use picking at it—the tiny spine will only burrow deeper into your flesh if you try to pull it out with tweezers or your hand.


Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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