HOW DO SNAKES GENERATE VENOM?
In the animal kingdom, venom was selected for a variety of animals, from cone snails and bees to jellyfish, spiders, and of course – snakes. The substance plays a different role for each species, being usually either a form of self-defense or an attack. Depending on what is targeted in the body of the victim, the venom can rot muscles, paralyze nerves, or thicken blood. When it comes to snakes, not all of them are poisonous, but those with deadly venom can harm their victim very seriously or even kill it.
How Ia The Venom Produced?
The venom is produced by special glands that evolved from the salivary glands. It has been proven that the toxins in the venom are just a mix of ordinary proteins and that snakes have been gifted with more toxic enzymes in their saliva. The venom is typically produced by a single gene; however, the deadly snakes have a bigger selection of that specific gene. Both harmless and poisonous snakes have the same genes that are responsible for different jobs – such as taking care of the immune system or digestion. The difference lays in the mutation that makes the DNA duplicated – the enzyme turns into venom when the proteins are duplicated during such mutation.
Snake venom is modified saliva that contains zootoxins. This type of toxin helps the snake with immobilization and digestion of its victim and therefore can be considered snakes’ main weapon.
How Does The Poison Work?
This type of venom works on the metabolic level and the proteins active in the poisonous saliva can affect a variety of biological functions of the prey. Thanks to the venom, snakes can affect blood pressure, coagulation of blood, and muscular and nerve impulse transmissions.
Usually, the venom is injected into the victim’s body through fangs, but some of the species spit it after biting their prey. Glands that produce the venom are located on both sides of the head, below and behind the eyes. The venom is released when the snake bites its prey and starts to works at once to paralyze and kill the victim. Snakes can lose their fangs, but they grow again.
Why Do Snakes Use Venom?
It is said that deadly snakes use the venom for two purposes – foraging and self-defense. The first one helps the snake with overpowering its victim before devouring it and the second is a tactic against potential predators.