Black Tiger snake. Image Copyright Cogger, 1992.

 

Snakes are perhaps the most universal symbol of evil and mystery. Idealized images of snakes grace the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharos, are scattered in Asian folklore, and are depicted as the incarnation of evil in the Garden of Eden. These legends and stories have given snakes a bad name in many cultures and these animals are often misunderstood and believed to have magical powers. While snakes do not possess any supernatural abilities, they certainly do possess several amazing attributes that make them truly unique in the animal kingdom. In this site we will explore one of the most complex chemical substances in the world, one produced by many species of snakes: venom.

 

Venoms are chemicals, which are produced by animals, that have toxic effects in the cells of other animals and also in the cells of the animal that produced the venom that are not specialized to resist the toxic effects of venom. This may sound complicated, but most people are familiar with many animals that produce venom. Bees, frogs, wasps, spiders, scorpions and fish are only a few of the other animals that are capable of venom production, however, snake venom is widely recognized as being the most chemically complex. (Minton, 1971) While serpent venom is very toxic and can be deadly, it also has therapeutic uses in the treatment of muscular diseases and other somatic and neurological disorders. This makes snake venom a valuable commodity in the medical community. This site will not focus on the benefits of snake venom as a therapeutic agent in any detail, however, but rather on the pathogenic effects of snake venom.

 

It is my hope that you find the information here useful and informative. Most of the site is devoted to a general description of the toxicity, pharmacology and treatment of venomous snake bite. However, anatomical information and pictures are also posted. If you are unfamiliar with a term used in the text, consult the terminology page in the navigation bar.

 

 

Inland Taipan in S position, ready to strike.
Image Copyright Shine, 1991.

 

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