I am often asked how I come up with topics. This idea grew from a reptile birthday party I attended last weekend with my daughter. The kids really enjoyed petting Baby Boris, an eighteen foot (non-venomous) Burmese python. My research into herpetology uncovered dozens of good sites. How was I going to choose just five? Narrowing my focus, the topic become venomous snakes, called hots by their keepers.
Which is the world's most dangerous snake? Herpetologists would probably consider Africa's black mamba a top contender. Legends surrounding the black mamba's speed, agility, and ferocity are often exaggerated, but do hold some basis in fact. Guinness Book of World Records has decreed it "The World's Fastest Snake". In addition to the author's personal photo gallery, you'll find his series of articles on how to handle hots (venomous snakes) with stern warnings for novices considering keeping these dangerous animals.
From his ranch in Santo, Texas, herpetologist Bayou Bob educates us about the venomous snakes of the Southwest including the western diamondback rattlesnake, broad-banded copperhead, and coral snake. His photos are terrific, and the descriptions are enhanced with audio such as the hissing of the rattlesnake. Did you know the rattlesnake is responsible for more serious and fatal snake bites than any other North American reptile? Be sure to read Bob's Field Safety Tips for advice on avoiding and coping with snake encounters.
National Geographic presents a spectacular tongue-to-tail tour of the infamous King Cobra. "It has a head as big as a man's hand and can stand tall enough to look you straight in the eye." Although drop for drop, his venom is less lethal than other cobra's, the King makes up for it in volume. A single King Cobra bite delivers enough venom to kill twenty people. I'm sure glad that I'm observing him from the safety of my Internet connection. Click on the snake head to start.
Affectionately known as the pig team, this group of students from Stetson University, Florida, studies the habits of the pigmy rattlesnake. Pigmy rattlesnakes are short (less than two feet long) and relatively thick-bodied snakes. At their Hog Island site, they have captured, marked, and released over 800 pigmy rattlesnakes in the last four years. Written with a sense of humor, this Web site describes their work and provides insight into how biologists perform field studies.
There are three types of venomous snakes. Opisthoglyphs are rear-fanged snakes that are mostly only mildly venomous, such as the mangrove and hognose snake. Proteroglyphs are fixed front- fanged snakes, such as cobras and coral snakes. Solenoglyphs have movable front fangs that fold back into the mouth until needed, making them very dangerous to work with. Rattlesnakes and copperheads are two examples. This Web page offers information on venomous snakes for educational purposes, and is not intended to persuade anyone to keep such snakes as pets.