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Friday, 8 July 2011

Venom

Venom

Milk snakes are often mistaken for coral snakes, whose venom is deadly to humans.
Cobras, vipers, and closely related species use venom to immobilize or kill their prey. The venom is modified saliva, delivered through fangs.[9]:243 The fangs of 'advanced' venomous snakes like viperids and elapids are hollow to inject venom more effectively, while the fangs of rear-fanged snakes such as the boomslang merely have a groove on the posterior edge to channel venom into the wound. Snake venoms are often prey specific, their role in self-defense is secondary.[9]:243
Venom, like all salivary secretions, is a predigestant that initiates the breakdown of food into soluble compounds, facilitating proper digestion. Even nonvenomous snake bites (like any animal bite) will cause tissue damage.[9]:209
Certain birds, mammals, and other snakes (such as kingsnakes) that prey on venomous snakes have developed resistance and even immunity to certain venoms.[9]:243 Venomous snakes include three families of snakes, and do not constitute a formal classification group used in taxonomy.
The term poisonous snake is mostly incorrect. Poison is inhaled or ingested, whereas venom is injected.[37] There are, however, two exceptions: Rhabdophis sequesters toxins from the toads it eats, then secretes them from nuchal glands to ward off predators, and a small population of garter snakes in Oregon retains enough toxin in their liver from the newts they eat to be effectively poisonous to small local predators (such as crows and foxes).[38]

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