Poisonous animals

Cobras, mambas, kraits, coral snakes and sea snakes are elapids. They are all venomous snakes and can be found in warmer parts of the world, except Europe and Madagascar. The second family, Viperidae, includes vipers and pit vipers. These again are all venomous snakes that have long, hinged fangs. They live in most parts of the world, except in Australia and Madagascar. The difference between the true vipers and pitvipers is that the pitvipers have an additional sense organ located in front and just below the eyes. These are the so-called heat pits that allow pit vipers to hunt with remarkable accuracy, even in total darkness.

There are three types of venomous snakes: opysthoglyph, proteroglyph and solenoglyph. The first type are mostly harmless or mildly venomous snakes. Their fangs are enlarged rear teeth with a groove that venom flows down while they are swallowing their prey. However, there are snakes of this type that are known to have killed humans before, for example the Boomslang (Dispholidus typus). Another good example of this type is the Mangrove snake (D. dendrophila).

 Fun Fact Collection
Survival lesson:
Scorpions have existed at least for 200 million years and have survived without changing all the global disasters so far. Most of them don’t drink water all their life long. They also can survive 500 days’ hunger. The scorpions can also resist a high radiation and are probably the only ones who can survive a nuclear war. Be a scorpion to survive easier!
A loving mother: Having born its offspring, the female scorpion carries them on its back for about 10 days ...if it has not eaten them already. 
Proteroglyphs have small, fixed, non-movable front fangs. When they bite they hang on and chew their prey to envenomate it. Cobras (Naja), mambas (Dendroaspis), kraits (Bungarus), taipans (Oxyuranus), coral snakes (Micrurus) and sea snakes are good examples of this type. They are some of the deadliest snakes in the world.

Solenoglyphs have movable front fangs that fold back into the mouth until they are needed. These snakes are very dangerous for they can open their mouths almost 180 degrees with their fangs extended straight out. They can strike at any portion of the body and their attack is much unpredictable. Rattlesnakes (Crotalus), eyelash vipers (Bothriechis), gaboon vipers (Bitis), cottonmouths and copperheads (Agkistrodon) belong to this type.

Snake venom is modified saliva that is primarily used for hunting (capturing and digesting the prey). Some venom is hematoxic (affecting the blood). Almost all American pit vipers have hematoxic venom. It destroys tissues and causes great pain, swelling and thinning or thickening of the blood.

Neuroxoxic venom attacks the nervous system and causes death as a result of heart failure or suffocation, though the bite may not be painful. Cobras and coral snakes fall under this category.
Venom may function as hemotoxin, neurotoxin or a combination of both. It is made up of 20 different enzymes but species usually have 6-12 of them.

The production of venom takes much energy. That is why snakes try to keep their venom supply and use only the amount of venom that is necessary for a particular purpose. If their aim is to kill a big prey, they will not hesitate to inject large quantity of toxins; for a small prey smaller quantity of venom is needed. If a snake is startled and bites in defense, then often the bite is “dry”, i.e. contains no venom. 

Snakes in Mythology, Religion ...and in the Kitchen 

A selection of curious facts, trivia, and amazing stories. Are you ready to start?


Can you think of a universal symbol of immortality and renewal? No? If you seek one, it is probably the Orobouros- an image of a serpent eating its own tail. The symbolic meaning is believed to have originated from the snake’s ability to shed its skin.

 The Australian aborigines believe that an enormous supernatural snake named Kurrichalpongo was the “mother” of the world. When its eggs hatched, the mountains, trees and animals were born.

The Norwegian thunder god Thor had an enemy that lived in the sea. It was the Midgard serpent. According to a Scandinavian myth, Thor managed to kill the serpent in a battle at the end of the world; however, Thor lost his own life in the battle.

Maybe you do not know where the symbol of the medical profession comes from? Well, it originates in the Roman mythology. Once the god of war Mercury saw two battling snakes. He reconciled them with his staff and the animals entwined around it. From then on the picture of two snakes entwined around a staff is a symbol of peace that is known as a caduceus. It now symbolizes the medical profession. 


Did you know… In ancient Greek mythology, many evil creatures were part snakes. Gazing upon the serpent-haired Medusa would instantly turn a man into a stone.

The Nagas and their wives the Nagins of Hindu legends were serpent gods that lived in underground palaces filled with treasure. They possessed both good and evil qualities and were believed to control the weather as well.

There was a Mexican symbol that represented the totality of the world: heaven and earth. It was, in fact, the serpent-god Quetzalcoatl who was half-bird, half-snake. He was believed to have control over the forces of nature and was often perceived as a symbol of life and civilization.

Did you know… Jews and Christians believe that the snake was the Satan who tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve committed the sin and sentenced the whole mankind to expulsion from Paradise.


Have you ever heard about the Hopi snake dance? It is an Indian ritual performed in northern Arizona in late August. People believe that this elaborate ceremony in which the Hopi rattlesnake is involved may cause gods to bring rain and fertility. Actually the ceremonies last nine days. On the third day, tribesmen go out and catch 15 to 60 snakes. In the following days the snakes are being prepared (ceremonially washed) for the climax of the whole ritual- that is the dance itself. It is performed on the ninth and final day. People dance in groups and each dancer holds a snake in his lips. After all snakes have taken part in the dance, they are put in a circle drawn with corn flour, sprinkled with white cornmeal, then carried out to designated spots and finally released to convey the request for rich harvest to the rain gods of the underworld.


Another crazy fact, but true!… Fundamentalist Christian groups of the southeastern states handle venomous snakes feeling protected by their strong faith in God. This has caused a couple of deaths though!

It may be strange but snakes are eaten today by certain peoples. Usually larger snakes are preferred since they yield more meat. In North America these are some rattlesnakes. In Asian countries such as China, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong cobras, vipers, sea snakes and kraits satisfy the appetite of  keen enthusiasts.

A cobra goddess called Ejo protected the Nile delta and guarded the Pharaohs in Egypt. The cobra in the Pharaoh’s crown symbolized the power and divinity of Egypt’s monarchs.