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Snakes are one of the most widely found species. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica and some smaller islands. They are very good at survival and live many months without food and water. Snakes fall under Reptilia class. Altogether more than 20 families of snakes are known, which consist of about 520 Genera and have about 3600 Species.
Talking about their physical attributes, snakes are recognized by their long and legless bodies although it is not a universal rule because some species of lizards can closely resemble these features. The shape and size of snakes can vary from about 10.5 cm long to 6.9 meters. They are carnivores and feed on small insects (Rats, Bugs etc) to big animals (Goats, Deer, etc) Anyhow not all species of known snakes are venomous. A mere 600 Species are known to be venomous. Most commonly known poisonous snakes belong to the members of Hydrophiidae, Elapidae and Atractaspididae. Solets find out what exactly venom is and how does it prove to be so lethal and effective.
Venom is a poisonous substance secreted by animals such as Snakes, Spiders, and scorpions and is typically injected into the prey by biting or stinging. Snakes have specialized venom glands in their skull and fangs to bite and inject their prey or aggressor with venom. Different species of snakes have different kinds of venoms which makes some snakes much more poisonous than others. Broadly the venom can be categorized into hemotoxins, cytotoxins and neurotoxins. These are the most commonly found venoms in snakes but sometimes snakes might carry a mixture of these which can be very hard to treat.
Hemotoxins destroy the red blood cells and often hinder the formation of blood clots. Moreover, they attack special tissues such as heart, lungs and kidneys causing organ failure and excessive bleeding. These toxins also aid the digestion of the prey. These are the slowest of all the venoms and can take hours to take effect. The effects of this on humans can be low blood pressure, nausea and profound bleeding. Most common examples snakes which have this venom are the King Cobras and Pit Vipers.
Cytotoxins basically work on the same principle of hemotoxins but these are capable of attacking and destroying all living cells in the body. Hence these act much faster and cause severe swelling, bleeding and pain. These also cause watery blisters and bleeding under the skin. The pain has been described by many as “Cold Fire” under the skin. Puff Adders, Western barred Spitting Cobra and Gaboon Adders are some species of snakes that carry this venom.
Neurotoxins, as the name suggests, are specialized in attacking the nerve tissues. These inhibit the communication across synapse i.e. the nerve endings. This causes severe damage to the central nervous system and can cause epilepsy and dementia. These act the fastest of all three and sometimes can even leave the prey paralyzed. Snakes which use this kind of venom often eat their prey while they are still alive and in a paralyzed state. Some examples of these snakes are Black Mamba and Snouted Cobra. Odds of You Dying by Snake Bite
Speaking about all this, most snakes aren’t interested in humans as a prey. Unless you provoke them they won’t hurt you at all. The chance of you dying by a snake bite is 1 in 50 million. The chances of you getting hit by a car are much better than that. So don’t be afraid to go out in wild and explore. A special message for all the harry potter fans out there- Don’t try to talk to snakes, they’ll think you are stupid.
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