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Make no mistake about it, these are venomous snakes.


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Posted by oldherper on April 09, 2003 at 15:56:17:

In Reply to: whats a false water cobra? posted by electricbluescat on April 09, 2003 at 00:56:16:

Among the researchers who have studied the toxicity of the Duvernoy's secretions of Hydrodynastes gigas, there is no debate. The secretions are toxic to humans. There are confirmed cases of serious bites. (Mackessy, 1998, Toxicon) There is some research into the toxicity of the secretions:

Manning, Galbo and Klapman, 1999, Journal of Toxicology

Scott, 1997, Toxicon

Glenn, Porras, Novahec and Straight, 1992, Contributions in Herpetology Greater Cincinatti Herpetological Society

Minton and Mebs, 1978, Salamandra

There isn't volumes of research information such as there is with viperids, crotalids, elapids and some of the other opistoglyphs such as Thelotornis kirtlandii and Dispholidus typus but that's only because there hasn't been a reported fatal bite from Hydrodynastes to date. That doesn't mean it isn't coming. The first recorded fatality from Dispholidus was in 1957 when K.P. Shmidt was fatally bitten. Up to that point it was known to be opistoglyphic (rear-fanged) but thought to be harmless, or at worst mildly venomous, and was even sold in pet stores. Venom toxicity studies are normally directed at developing antivenins. Until there is a fatal bite, there isn't likely to be a whole lot of research in this area.

The real debate with False Water Cobras is in their predisposition to bite and their ability to deliver a large enough amount of venom to cause a dangerous or life-threatening bite to a human. The venom (Duvernoy's secretions), drop for drop, has been shown in LD50 studies to be as toxic as that of Crotalus atrox in laboratory mice. Some will argue that those statistics are meaningless when discussing human envenomation. Are they really meaningless? In my opinion, not entirely. If we extrapolate the LD50 for a mouse and arrive at the theoretical lethal dose for a 150 lb human it probably equates to more venom that a fully grown FWC can deliver in a single bite. However, that does not take into account individuals that have a higher sensitivity to the venom and hypersensitive people. The only way you know if you are one of those people is to get bitten. Unfortunately, if you are hypersensitive the result is usually anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock can kill you within minutes.

Most FWCs are not particularly aggressive animals and not really all that inclined to try to bite. However, snakes are like people. They are individuals. They tend to be more irritable at times than they are at other times, just like us. They don't read the books that we write about them, so they don't know how we expect them to behave. Just because you keep one for 5 years and he never offers to bite doesn't mean he won't tag you tomorrow. I had an Eastern Indigo once that I raised from a hatchling to a 7 1/2 foot adult. The whole time he was completely docile and never made any attempt to bite me. Then one day, I was showing him to a friend and everything was fine, he was showing no signs of objecting to being handled. Then he simply turned his head and started chewing on my thumb. If you don't think a harmless snake will hurt you, try letting a 7 1/2 foot Indigo chow on you. My point is that any animal that has teeth can bite you and they can all be unpredictable.

I think that FWCs should be handled and treated as venomous snakes, because in reality that's what they are.

:I know this is king and milk forum but I saw a pic of a snake called a false water cobra a few days ago. I would never have any kind of venomous snake. I have never heard of false water cobras before has anyone?

:thanks,
:john





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