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RE: Envenomation

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Posted by: Rextiles at Sat Aug 10 23:26:59 2013  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by Rextiles ]  

I don't think it's misleading at all Mike. Venom is venom regardless of how potent or dangerous it is.

Let's look at the definition of the word venom:

1. the poisonous fluid that some animals, as certain snakes and spiders, secrete and introduce into the bodies of their victims by biting, stinging, etc."

In this case, we're talking about the injection of a foreign fluid that causes a negative reaction when introduced into the body of another animal. Pretty simple really. If a hognose has the ability to do this, whether that's by "toxic saliva" or actual venom, as has been proven to exist in hognose, then by all means, it's a venomous snake solely by definition alone.

"It's good to warn people of the possible reactions one might have if bit. I agree. But most people will not have this reaction. So if a hog bites someone and that person has no reaction whatsoever, is it really "Venom"?"

The real question is, was the person actually envenomated and if they were, did they suffer a reaction from the venom? Look at all of the people who have had dry bites from lethal venomous snakes and then think they are "immune" based on the ignorance that they were not envenomated at all.

There was a show on Animal Planet (I know, I know, the worst channel when it comes to anything factual about animals... :P) about people that owned dangerous/venomous snakes, I forget what it was called. Anywho, there was a girl who got into keeping non-venomous snakes which escalated to her keeping venomous. As the story goes, she had a Gaboon Viper that she often let loose around the house because she had been dry bitten several times and believed she was immune to the snakes venom until one day the snake bit and envenomated her which resulted in a horrible death. While this girl was obviously a bit "out there" and completely ignorant of what dry bites were, had she been properly educated and known about the effects of actual envenomation, perhaps she would still be alive today, or perhaps not. Who knows?

Let's look at rattlesnake bites. Some people get bit and die, some get bit and lose an appendage, others might suffer lesser effects that result in neither loss of life or limb. Some might even get a dry bite and not suffer anything at all other than a puncture wound. The lesser of these effects doesn't mean that the rattlesnake should be considered anything less than a venomous reptile should it? Of course not.

This in turn doesn't mean that we should alter the terms for hognose either. All it means in relation to hognose is that we can deem them as Mildly Venomous and be content that this is by far more truthful than ignoring the fact that they are potentially venomous at all.

But again, venom is still venom. If people don't understand that there are different types of venom and different effects to different animals and that not all venom is potentially harmful to people, then it is up to us to educate them, not redefine the terms just to suit the ignorant. Heck, bees, wasps and hornets inject venom when they sting. It's a completely different delivery system with completely different results but it's still venom. We don't change the word or the terms just because of the differences, we maintain the usage of the word venom

Just because we don't like the negative connotations of certain words being used doesn't mean that we should change the terms to ease the minds of the ignorant masses. Look at constrictors for example, the word constrictor is by all means negative, to constrict, to bind, to kill, yet I don't see any of the large constrictor people wanting to change the term from constriction to hugging. "No no no, that snake isn't constricting little Johnny over there, the snake is simply hugging him too tightly.".

In my mind, the only true way we are going to overcome the negative connotations of some of these terms such as venom is with intelligence and trying to educate those that don't understand or know! Changing or not using the correct words doesn't change the facts nor does it help educate people, it only keeps them ignorant and it helps to fan the flames of negativity when something bad does eventually happen.
Troy Rexroth


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