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Snake Venom:

Snake Venom is a complicated substance. It was once believed that snakes have venom that is either hemotoxic or neurotoxic. It is now known that venom is not this simple. Most snake venom is composed of many types of compounds, primarily proteins and enzymes that effect the body in different ways. Thus, even a snake typically known as having only hemotoxic venom, most likely has some neurotoxic compounds as well.

Some common compounds found in snake venom include the list below:

Compound Action Snakes genera

Catalyze reactions that break mucopolysaccharide links in connective tissues, thereby enhancing diffusion of venom

Several genera

Proteolytic enzymes

Catalyze the breakdown of structural components of tissues.

All venomous species


Catalyze reactions that harm musculature and nerves

Almost all venomous species


Catalyze reactions that disrupt protein peptide bonds in tissues, causing blood vessel wall damage and hemorrhaging and muscle-fiber deterioration.

Vipers and Pitvipers

Thrombinlike enzymes

Inhibit blood clotting

Vipers, pitvipers, and a few rare elapids

Peptide bradykinin potentiators

Enhancement of one of the body's natural responses to injury by dilating and increasing permeability of blood vessels, stimulates pain receptors and contracts some smooth muscles. This allows the venom to diffuse quickly into the bloodstream, increases bleeding and inhibits the ability to flee

Bothrops and Crotalus genera

Polypeptide toxins

Disrupts nerve-impulse transmission, causing heart or respiratory failure

Mambas, Vipera, Crotalus, Bungarus, Naja, Laticaua, Hydrophis all with different types of toxin.

Nerve growth factor

Stimulates the growth of nerve cells

Agkistrodon, Crotalus

Source: Snakes in Question by Carl H. Ernst and George R. Zug, 1996



Information by ROB NELSON


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