Snake Venom

Topics: Snake, Elapidae, Viperidae Pages: 9 (2935 words) Published: September 21, 2010
“Each year around 1 million people world wide are bitten by snakes, and around 30,000 to 40,000 of the snake bite victims die from the venomous injection of a venomous snake. Of the 2,000 species of snakes, about 400 are venomous. The cobra, coral snake, and rattlesnake are common examples of venomous snakes.” (Snake2). Knowing this information and more can possibly save yours or somebody else’s life when put into a situation when you have been bitten by a snake and can’t identify it, this paper will educate you on what to do in case of a snake bite and how the venom works on the human body.

Snake bite- “the wound made by the fangs of a venomous snake or the teeth of a non-venomous one.” (Snakebite). Snakes only bite to capture prey or protect themselves when they feel threatened. When they feel threatened they give you warnings to tell you that they are about to strike. For example a rattlesnake will shake its rattle, a cobra will raise its hood, and the majority of the snake world will warn you with a loud audible hiss.

Ways of Envomation

“The process of introducing venom into a victim is called envenomating. Envenomating by snakes is most often through their bite, but some species, like the spitting cobra, use additional methods such as squirting venom onto the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, and mouth) of prey animals.” (Reptipage 1). There are different types of delivery methods of delivery of venom. First you come to the short fixed fangs of cobras and mambas. These fangs are fixed in the front of the snakes mouth and do not move when envenomating. In exception for the cobras there is the spitting cobra, which shoots out a jet of venom out of the hollow holes in the fangs. The snake usually aims for the eyes, nose, or mouth as mentioned above. Then we come to the vipers, which have swiveling fangs, which swing forward like a hinge while striking. Then there are the rear fanged snakes, which most of them are in the colibrid family. These fascinating snakes have fixed fangs in the back of their mouth, which are actually just enlargened teeth, the strangest of these snakes in the stiletto snake. When the snake goes to strike, the fangs slide out of the side of the mouth and the snake strikes with the side of its mouth. It smacks its head on the victim and the fangs pierce the victim from the side of the mouth. When the snake bites, it chews to get venom flowing. Most of the snakes in this family are mildly venomous and the power of the venom isn’t strong enough to do any real harm.


“Venoms are basically modified digestive juices, with a clear or yellowish tint to it. The components of venom cause the prey’s nervous system to malfunction while others break down muscles and blood vessels. Most venoms cause a multitude of effects that work in concert to paralyze and kill. The snake stores the venom in glands behind each eye that connect with enlargened teeth modified for injection.” (Harvey 10).

The Action of Venom

“Snake venom is a complex protein substance and its exact composition varies from one species of snake to anther. When a snake bites, it generally injects its venom though or near its fangs into the wound. Snakebite can even occur when the snake has been dead recently, or even by the snakes dismembered head because the snakes nerve reflexes are not extinguished for many hours.” (Snakebite 2). “A neurotoxin venom works to disrupt the function of the brain and nervous system. Classically, such snake venom causes paralysis or lack of muscle control, but it can also disrupt the individual signals sent between neurons and muscles. Such venoms can also attack the body’s supply of ATP, a nucleotide that is critical in energy transfer. Researchers once believed that many snake venoms contained digestive enzymes to make it easier to process prey. However, this does not appear to be the case; snakes with digestive enzymes in their venom don’t digest prey any more quickly. More...
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