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 The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes

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Snakes Incorporated
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PostSubject: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:09 am

How accurate are they? How long is a piece of string?

The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes should be simple. In fact only one factor can legitimately be used - human deaths attributed to the specific species. Contributing factors would be the distribution of the species, aggression, venom yield, toxicity of venom, and habits of the snakes.
Obviously a fairly venomous species that is found in vast reaches of the earth will kill more humans than a violently venomous species known to live on only one inaccessible grassy knoll on an uninhabited Patagonian island. However when all is said and done - the only accountable factor MUST be the body count of the species.
As to the most venomous we run into similar problems of definition. The effect of snake venom is measured in mouse units.
The standard test is to measure how many standard sized mice a given weight/volume of venom will kill. From there an estimation and extrapolation is made to a standard 70 kg human male.
The problems inherent here are:
Venoms differ in their specific effects
Venoms are often far more lethal to specific prey animals
Venoms vary by area distribution, age, sex, time and season in their toxicity.
The yield varies from specimen to specim
Australia's crop of highly venomous elapids feature high on many lists. Yet Australia has had, over the last 20 years, a confirmed mortality rate averaging less than 2 per annum and a guestimated maximum of 3.1 per annum. (These are people who die from snakebite in remote places and where medical science does not make a diagnoses).
This translates, roughly, to a mortality rate of 1:8 million per annum. Distributed roughly among 16 highly venomous snakes. Average per species thus is 1 fatality per snake species every 8 years. The vaunted "most venomous snake on earth" the Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) has yet to be implicated in a single fatality. The range of the snake is small and the population extremely thin. So despite the fact that an average yield of venom from this snake can kill 250 000 rats, just how dangerous is it?

On the other hand the humble Russell's Viper kills humans by the hundreds. It seldom
if ever figures in the "most dangerous snake" lists! The Cobras of Sri Lanka kill an average 5 people out of every 100 000 population per annum. Translated to the Australian scenario this would mean around 900 deaths per annum.
What these lists are giving us is the POTENTIALLY most dangerous snakes. A true list of the most FATAL TO MAN snakes would give us some very humble but widespread and moderately venomous snakes.

So what's the answer?
There is none - only an answer within defined parameters such as:
The snakes with the largest venom yield
The snakes with the most toxic venom to mice
. The snakes that have killed the most humans
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:51 pm

So do we have a list of snakes that fit those defined parameters?

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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:01 am

Snakes Incorporated wrote:
There is none - only an answer within defined parameters
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:15 am

that debate can go on for years. lol!

In Central Africa even an African Rock Python can be considered very dangerous! affraid
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:50 am

A venomous snake most willing to prove its venomous is the most dangerous.
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:48 am

Martin S wrote:
A venomous snake most willing to prove its venomous is the most dangerous.
Very well put! like our dear friend the Black Mamba?
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:49 am

Exactly.
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:51 am

The most venomous snake is the one attached to the finger.

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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:55 am

Snakes Incorporated wrote:
The most venomous snake is the one attached to the finger.
lol! or, the one that has just put a hole in your finger and then sits looking at you with a "smile" on its face!
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:59 am

I don't know, I don't go for that "the mst dangerous is the one that just bit you". You got nailed because you made a mistake.
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:04 am

Funny you should say that, from what Ive heard after a bite guys or gals often say things like, I never do it, just that day, or I turned my head for a second, and when I looked again, the snake struck, or the snake never usually does that. I can imagine the slightest hesitation or lack of concentration can be fatal.
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PostSubject: Re: The criteria for judging the most dangerous snakes   Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:07 am

Yes.
Compare the odds. The odds of being bitten by a Cape Cobra are far higher than the odds of being bitten by a Boomslang. A Cape Cobra is willing to prove its venomous, making it the more dangerous snake to work with.
If you go by the "most dangerous snake is the one that just bit you" then there are keepers out there with no dangerous snakes in their collections, because they've never been bitten.
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