Tag Archives | Snakes

Iran and America Joined at the Hip by Snake Venom Antidote

Picture: Julie Anne Workman (CC)

When the US government needs anti-venin effective against Afghanistan’s venomous snakes (there’s eight species, by the way) it turns to Iran…

Via Newser:

The US leads the charge when it comes to economic sanctions against Iran—but when American soldiers’ health is at stake, the military is willing to do a little business with the Islamic republic. Iran produces antivenin against the poisonous snakes of Afghanistan; our own antivenins are toothless against such bites, as they’re made from domestic species. Working through a middleman, the US has bought 115 $310 vials of the stuff since January 2011, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal’s reporting has prompted a military review to see whether the practice violates sanctions rules. If so, a government waiver may be needed.

Check your tourniquet and keep reading.

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The Snake Venom That’s Better Than Morphine

Black mamba (1)One wonders what a Black Mamba high might be like (although the story seems to suggest there might not be one) … from BBC News:

A painkiller as powerful as morphine, but without most of the side-effects, has been found in the deadly venom of the black mamba, say French scientists.

The predator, which uses neurotoxins to paralyse and kill small animals, is one of the fastest and most dangerous snakes in Africa.

However, tests on mice, reported in the journal Nature, showed its venom also contained a potent painkiller.

They admit to being completely baffled about why the mamba would produce it.

The researchers looked at venom from 50 species before they found the black mamba’s pain-killing proteins – called mambalgins.

Dr Eric Lingueglia, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology near Nice, told the BBC: “When it was tested in mice, the analgesia was as strong as morphine, but you don’t have most of the side-effects.”

Morphine acts on the opioid pathway in the brain.

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Rock, Rock, Rock Python!

According to the UK’s Mirror News, a couple on safari picked up an unwanted hitchhiker: a 16 foot-long rock python. The car’s owner flipped the hood and waited for it to exit the vehicle, thereby crossing what I call the “Oh, hell no!” barrier.

Rock pythons are a relatively common form of constrictor found in Africa’s tropical jungles, where they commonly reach lengths of 20 feet. While the rock python, like most snakes, normally avoids contact with human beings, when cornered they can quickly become aggressive. There are several documented incidences of the species killing and even consuming people, mostly children. Despite this, they’re readily available in the American pet trade, a fact that came under national scrutiny following the 2009 death of a two year-old child that was strangled in her bed by her mother’s boyfriend’s escaped python.

Rock pythons, like several other breeds of exotic constrictors, have established breeding populations in the Florida everglades.… Read the rest

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Read this Proclamation to the Snake Worshipers! This Practice Must Stop!

Handling serpents at the Pentecostal Church of God. Lejunior, Harlan County, Kentucky., 09/15/1946 (Photographer: Russell Lee)

American Evangelicalism is best know these days for its brash political pandering and social engineering attempts, but deep in the Appalachian mountains the tantric tremor of serpents and strichnine has been a staple of worship in some churches since 1910 when George Went Hensley brought the practice of snake handling to his pastorage of the Cleveland Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee.

Dismissed by the orthodox on all sides, scientific, skeptical and religious, these folks cook up some of the best rockabilly that you’ll ever hear (check out the Jolo, West Virginia snake handling clips on YouTube if you don’t believe me) and the only trouble they cause is usually one of their own members dying from a snake bite.  The extreme nature of their rites reflects the dismal living conditions that attend the areas where these churches find a home.… Read the rest

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What Snake Venom Does to Blood

From YouTube user fragancemad (thanks @timfbmx and @joerogan for tweeting):
I was doing some research for Cobra parfum by Jeannes Arthes and came across this video about snake venom by mistake - it's so incredible that I just had to upload it to YouTube. Basically, a single drop of this venom (from a Russell's viper) is dripped onto a petri dish of blood, and in seconds the blood clots into a thick chunk of solid matter.
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Serpent-Handling West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite

Snake Handling

Handling serpents at the Pentecostal Church of God in 1946.

Reports Arlette Saenz on ABC News:

A “serpent-handling” West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.

Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.

“I am looking for a great time this Sunday,” Wolford wrote May 22, according to the Washington Post. “It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ‘ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.”

Robin Vanover, Wolford’s sister, told the Washington Post that 30 minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him…

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Mystery Behind Virgin Births Explained

Crotalus adamanteusExplaining a virgin birth by means of a serpent? God must have a sense of irony. Jennifer Viegas writes on Discovery News:

An eastern diamond rattlesnake recently gave successful birth five years after mating, according to a new paper that describes this longest known instance of sperm storage, outside of insects, in the animal kingdom.

The study, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, also presents the first documented virgin birth by a copperhead snake. In this case, the female never mated, proving that snakes and certain other animals can either give true virgin — dadless — birth, or may store sperm for long periods.

Actual mate-less virgin birthing, known as parthenogenesis, “has now been observed to occur naturally within all lineages of jawed vertebrates, with the exception of mammals,” co-author Warren Booth told Discovery News. “We have recently seen genetic confirmation in species such as boa constrictors, rainbow boas, various shark species, Komodo dragons, and domestic turkeys, to name a few.

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New York Woman Commits Suicide By Black Mamba

article-0-001937DD00000258-228_468x372A gruesomely appropriate suicide method for a woman who lived in the company of 75 snakes. Personally, my ideal pet death would be smothering under a puppy pile. The Daily Mail reports:

A woman is feared to have committed ‘suicide by snake’ — Aleta Stacey is thought to have deliberately allowed herself to be bitten by a deadly black Mamba. The 56-year-old was found dead at the New York home she shares with 75 other snakes, most of them poisonous.

Friends and family believe Stacey deliberately allowed herself to be bitten. They said she was an experienced snake handler who knew the dangers of getting to close to the fast and venomous snake. They also pointed out that even after being bitten she failed to call the emergency services.

Venom from the black Mamba is lethal unless treated with antivenon. Victims usually die within 20 minutes of being bitten.

Officials removed 75 other snakes from the home, of which 56 were poisonous.

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