at Sat May 2 15:58:55 2009 [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Phobos ]
Over the many years I've been keeping venomous snakes this single topic which causes the most controversy is that of “venomoiding”. Venomoiding is the process in which the venom glands and ducts are surgically removed, rendering the snake incapable of envenomating. Not a particularly complex bit of surgery but care must be taken to preserve local nerves and blood supply. Furthermore, the veterinary surgeon must ensure that all remains of the ducts and venom gland are removed or else the venom apparatus could regenerate. Elapids who were previously subjected to this procedure have been demonstrated to have re-grown venom glands and ducts when great care has not been taken.
In the past the general arguments were inhumane, unnecessary, cruel, and causes digestive problem. The only one of those that remains questionable is regarding the snake’s digestive process without the aide of its digestive enzyme within the venom itself. No one that I know of has taken the time to set up the proper experiment to prove or disprove this theorem.
However, an interesting account of a fatal envenomation of a venomoid black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) by another Black Mamba housed in the same enclosure caused me to look closer. The fatal bite was inflicted during feeding by another large cage mate, just behind the head of the venomoid snake. It took three or four days for the male snake die however it did indeed happen. A necropsy was performed on the dead male venomoid. Severe necrosis was found from the bite site extending approximately 15 inches towards the tail. It's seems in this case the venomoid still maintained some immunity to the lethal fractions of the Mamba venom but had no protection against the digestive or proteolytic fractions.
This finding is quite interesting on many levels. It would seem on the surface that the venom gland itself provides protection against the actions of the venom against the host snake. Yeah, no duh! Once the venom glands and ducts are removed it would seem the snake loses immunity to venom produced by others of the same species. It would also be interesting to discover how long this process may take and just what community is lost and retained. Can a vaccine for human or domesticated animal being developed knowing this. I can think of a few experiments that could shed further light on these questions, unfortunately I do not have the time or the laboratory to it up.
Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.
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