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Posted by oldherper on April 08, 2003 at 09:06:59:

In Reply to: CONFUSION...VENOM IMMUNITY posted by ballyhoo1887 on April 07, 2003 at 21:51:33:

I'm not sure if there's been a whole lot of research into this one. I know there's been some, and you might be able to find it by searching the web. The research that has been done has been in relation to the mechanics of venom immunity, and some has also been done with other snake eating animals like mongoose.

One of the reasons that I think not a lot has been done related to the questions you ask is because Bothrops asper doesn't occur in Eastern King Snake territory and Southern Copperheads don't occur in Black Milk Snake territory. So, they are not likely to be eating each other.

The mechanics of venom immunity in ophiophagic snakes is still not well understood. You also need to take into account that there have been reports of ophiophagy in many other species of snakes, including Elaphe,Drymarchon,Crotalus,Bothrops,Charina,Nerodia, etc. It's rare in some of these genera as far as is known, but is known to occur.

There is some question (mystery, actually) as to how the venom works in animals like King Cobras and Coral snakes which make their living eating snakes. One would think that the venom would be specialized to be effective on reptiles in general. Yet these animals seem to have some resistance to the venom of others of their kind. For example, King Cobras seem to be somewhat immune to King Cobra venom. What is it that makes a Cave Dwelling ratsnake succeptible to King Cobra venom, but not another King Cobra? Why is a kingsnake immune (at least to some degree)to a Coral Snake's venom?

I knew a guy once in Mobile Alabama that purchased from me a small Vipera berus as well as several other snakes. He was short of bags, so he bagged some of them together. He had a short trip home, so he didn't think it would be a problem. In the bag with the V. berus, he also placed a slightly larger Corn Snake. When he arrived home, the Corn snake was dead and had clear evidence of a bite from the V. berus about mid-body dorsally. Upon opening the Corn Snake, I found massive tissue destruction in it's internal organs. Obviously not all snakes have resistance to snake venom and those that do may only have resistance to snakes occuring in their own natural range or very closely related species. It would be interesting to know of different venomous species that prey on other snakes are immune to each other's venom. Such as a Coral snake and a Mussurana or a Coral snake and a King Cobra, etc.

I know that some snakes will recognize a King snake if placed in the same cage, even if they don't come from the same range. I once placed a small Eastern King snake in a cage with a larger common boa when I was cleaning cages (many years ago). The boa PANICKED as soon as he got a whiff of the king snake. I could put other snakes, such as corn snakes in with him and he was fine. As soon as I put the kingsnake back in with him, the scenario repeated with the boa frantically trying to find a way out of the cage. That's the only time I've observed that sort of behavior, but then again, I haven't tried it since then.

:I have a few questions about the venom immunity of lampropeltis. Are they only resisitant to the venom of NATIVE pit-vipers? At first that's what I thought, but now I've read about kings eating eastern coral snakes. Let's take a black milk for example (they're my favorite milk) and an eastern king (my favorite king). According to the rules of lampropeltis venom immunity to native pit-viper species, a black milk could eat a bothrops asper (small one, mind you) and an eastern king could take a copperhead with no adverse affects to their overall health? What about if you tried to feed the copperhead to the black milk, and the bothrops to the eastern king? Would someone PLEASE clarify this for me?!?!?!

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