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Video:Identifying Poisonous Snakes

with Donald Schultz

Avoid a potentially life threatening situation by learning how to identify common types of poisonous snakes. If you do end up facing off against a rattlesnake or cobra, we'll show you how to react.See Transcript

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Transcript:Identifying Poisonous Snakes

My name’s Donald Schultz from Animnal Planet’s Wild Recon.

Identifying Venomous Snakes

A good way of telling a venomous snake in North America is if it has a triangular head it’s more than likely venomous. In California the best way to tell a venomous snake is if it has a rattle it’s venomous. As you start going towards the east coast, you start getting lappids like coral snakes which is hard to tell apart because they have these bright colors you also get snakes that look the same.

But one of the sure fire ways of telling something that’s really deadly is if you look at its head it has a really highly triangular shape. It basically means it’s highly toxic.

Neotropical Rattlesnake

And what I have here is called a neotropical rattle snake and the interesting thikng is they have a highly selective neuro-toxic venom which has huge implications for pharmaceutical research and fortunately in North America you have a high amount of rattlesnakes and they’re easy to find. And, unlike some snakes in Africa, they also pretty readily bite.

What to Do When You See a Snake

The best thing to do when you see a snake is back away. If you see a snake in the wild the best thing to do is just to back away. The majority of snake bites in excess of peole trying to catch or kill sankes, most of them are called illegitimate bites where people are trying to mess around with snakes, kill them, catch them, move them around. The best thing to do when you see a snake is just to leave it alone.

The Forest Cobra

And this is probably one of my favorite cobras in the whole world. It comes from my homeland of South Africa. It’s called a Forrest Cobra. One of the few arborial cobras in the world and one of the interesting things is, as soon as you grab a forrest cobra they pretty much grab you. If you look at his tail, it just pretty much wraps around my arm. And that’s the scariest place to be when you have a giant deadly snake attached to you and you’re not going anywhere and it’s not going anywhere. And they’re extremely intelligent, extremely toxic and get to about nine feet in length. Their venom is highly nero toxic and has huge potential in using it in treating things like seizure disorders. A bite from a big forrest cobra like this could kill you in less than an hour and obviously getting bitten by a huge snake like this is a huge medical emergency. The problem with forest cobras is once they bite down on you they hardly ever let go.

The Gaboon Viper

And this is a gaboon viper, one of the most interesting snakes in Africa. Contrary to popular belief these snakes are not mindless killers and people have actually stepped on them in the wild and not been bitten. It’s one of the biggest vipers in the world and the biggest viper in Africa. The fastest striking snake in Africa and the longest fangs of any venomous snake in the world, they can get to two and a half inches long. There’s a highly cardio toxic venom, so it basically shuts your heart down. And people have died within half an hour of being bitten by a Gaboon Viper.

So, in the states it kind of works, you have some animals that have triangular shaped heads that aren’t toxic but you also have rattlesnakes, copperheads, cotton mouths that have a triangular shaped head and are highly highly toxic animals. Thank you so much for watching and to learn more go to About.com.
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