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Re: Define rear-fanged...


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Posted by WW on October 14, 2002 at 14:48:37:

In Reply to: Re: Define rear-fanged... posted by Gernot Vogel on October 14, 2002 at 13:54:23:

: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.

The point I was trying to make is that categorising snakes into "opisthoglyph" and "aglyph" is a complete waste of time - colubrid dentitions do not come in two clean categories. Vidal (2000 or 2001, Mol. Phyl. Evol.) made that point very nicely in his paper on Xenodontine phylogeny.

: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.

A valid point. Overinterpretation of lab data is one potential source of exageration, and we also know that in many species, the risk of envenoming is low even though the snake may look impressive on paper. Clinical evidence is the only real point of reference for colubrid envenoming potential - unfortunately, we don't have much for many species. Advising caution certainly seems the safest bet.

: 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.

It may not be the answer they want, but it's the answer they should get. I believe in educating people, and the simple fact is that between truly dangerous snakes and totally non-venomous snakes, there is a very extensive grey zone. Spalerosophis definitely falls within that grey zone. And Thamnophis has put people into hospital - maybe in one bite out of 100,000, butit has happened.

:I was bitten by this species several times, without effect.

I have been bitten by Boiga dendrophila, Hydrodynastes gigas, and Philodryas olfersii, all without effect. However, we KNOW that all these species can inflict unpleasant and potentially serious bites. We also know hat there have been symptomatic (but admittedly not serious) bites by Spalerosophis. I agree that a serious (= life-threatening) bite is extremely unlikely (the species is common enough so that we would know if it represented a serious hazard), but I would not say that it has no potential.

: But of course everybody should avoid to be bitten by a snake anyway. There might be some other effects as tetanus or allergic effects.

Sure, but the presence of a venom of unknown composition and potential would enhance one's caution.

Not trying to argue for the sake of having an argument, but this is a fascinating field, and one that is developing rapidly. Since the people who come to these forums are at trying to learn (at least I assume so, otherwise why would they ask questions?), I believe that we should given them the full story, not fob them off with half-truths.

Cheers,

Wolfgang



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