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Posted by BGF on August 15, 2002 at 08:42:13:
In Reply to: On par? posted by Trust on August 15, 2002 at 07:41:51:
:I'm concerned when you say "on par." I can certainly accept that the venom, drop for drop, or millidrop as the case may be, is as potent, but will there be any indication as to the mean volume delivered in a typical bite? I know it's very easy to speak of such things, and terribly difficult to measure under controlled circumstances.
Even with some of the smaller species or those with smaller glands, we get 1-2 mgs of venom, with some of the larger species or those with more well developed glands we get 10-15 mgs. With the later, I am of the opinion that they are quite capable of a dangerous or even lethal envenomation. If you look at the genera of colubrids that have been implicated in dangerous to lethal bites (e.g. Boiga, Dispholidus, Malpolon, Pssamophis, Philodryas, Rhabdophis, Thelotornis to name a few) you will notice that there is a significant lack of taxonomical trend. In other words, it has not been from a closely related genera but rather liberal sprinkling across the superfamily. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there are many many more dangerous species lurking in there. Nore are they all exceptional in the way of dentition or fangs. For example, I was rather unimpressed with the Rhabdophis fangs or venom yield (and this was from about 150 or so milkings so a really sample size).
:I know there is a paper comparing hydrodynastes oral secretion to certain crotalid venom. I've also had hydrodynastes breeders tell me they've been bitten several times with no ill effects. Of course, there are a dozen factors (at least!) that figure into a snake bite besides just the toxicity of the venom.
I completely agree. Just as some elapids are not dangerous due to small fangs or small venom venom yields, does this mean free handling them would be a good idea?
:As for the legislative storm, since when have lawmakers ever been interested in legitimate science? ;-)
LOL!!! Very true. However, I do have some legitimate concerns about the colubrids. The irony of all this was that I was one the staunchest defenders of colubrids against legislation. For example, I campaigned very hard to keep mangroves on the harmless and thus available to pet store lists. I've since reconsidered this opinion (having been envenomated rather nicely by B. dendrophila after getting nailed twice in once day while milking a large shipment).
:By the way, has human saliva ever been subjected to the same sort of testing snake venom has?
Human saliva is well documented in its ability to cause edema (this is one of the favorite ways for prisoners to get into the prison hospital) but this is not a venom by any venom definition. In contrast we have biochemical and pharmacological data conclusively showing that many of the so-called non-venomous snakes are actually irrefuteably venomous. Indeed, outside of primitive radiations such as pythons, boas, file snakes, sheild tails and a few select othere, I would put pretty much everything else (with very few exceptions) into the venomous category. I obviously can't tip my hand until the scientific journal articles are published, so I can't provide details to refute some logical and reasonable questions as to the above. I only ask a little patience and it'll all come out over the next few months.