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Re: Define rear-fanged...


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Posted by Gernot Vogel on October 14, 2002 at 13:54:23:

In Reply to: Define rear-fanged... posted by WW on October 14, 2002 at 03:32:44:

Rear-fanged means opistoglyph, as far as I know.
I just checked some literature: Latifi (1991), classifies this species as aglyph, meaning not rear fanged. Disi et al. 2001 write that this species often bites but is not dangerous.
As you pointed out, aglyph snakes can also be poisonous, Rhabdophis is a good example. I think it might dangerous to overemphasize the toxidity, too. I donīt want to die somebody on a heart attack, because he was bitten by Spalerosophis! So I think if somebody askes, if Spalerosophis is rear fanged, he does not really want to have an answere as: Nearly all species of snakes are poisonous, even Natrix natrix or Thamnophis.
I was bitten by this species several times, without effect. But of course everybody should avoid to be bitten by a snake anyway. There might be some other effects as tetanus or allergic effects.
But isnīt this also true for lizards and turtels?
Sorry for my bad English, I hope everything is to understand the way, I wanted to say it.

:This is nowhere near as straightforward as it might seem, as BGF's post have already indicated.

:People used to make a clear distinction between snakes with enlarged, GROOVED posterior maxillary teeth, and those without grooved posterior maxillary teeth. However, the reality is that there are a large number of different configurations of the maxillary teeth, randing from completely undifferentiated (as in a python) through all sorts of weird and wonderful stages right through to a "classical" rear-fanged configuration.

:Problem is, practically all these maxillary tooth configurations occur in species which have Duvernoy's glands which secrete toxic compounds. Moreover, some species which have inflicted dangerous or even fatal bites do not have the classical rear-fanged configuration - Rhabpdophis tigrinus being the prime example. For that matter, even garter snakes, which certainly are not rear-fangs in the classical sense, have given people a sore arm!

:In answer to your question about Spalerosophis, we can now split this into several elements:

:Q: Does it have a Duvernoy's gland?
:A: Almost certainly yes

:Q: Is the secretion toxic to humans?
:A: Almost certainly yes.

:Q: Can Spalerosophis inflict a life-threatening bite?
:A: Almost certainly not, but don't be the first to find out otherwise. There have been reports of painful bites.

:Q: Does Spalerosophis have classical, grooved rear fangs?
:A: I don't know, but does it really matter?

:Hope this helps. Check out the link below for references and more info.

:Cheers,

:Wolfgang




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