What Do Poisonous Snakes Use Their Poison for?
Poisonous snakes, such as rattlesnakes, use their poison, or venom, mainly for killing food. Nearly all snakes eat small creatures such as frogs and mice. The fangs of most poisonous snakes are hollow needles that inject poison into the victim’s body. Once the victim is dead, the snake swallows it whole.
Since poisonous snakes also use their poison as a means of self-defense, they do pose a threat to humans. But in most cases there is little reason to fear snakes. Actually only 200 of the 2,400 known kinds of snakes are poisonous.
Sea snakes are thought to be the most poisonous of all snakes. Other poisonous snakes include Adders, Cottonmouths, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads and Cobras. Spitting Cobras can spit venom up to 6 feet away!
In many countries, venomous snakes are caught and their venom is “milked” from their fangs by squeezing the venom sac and forcing the release of the poison. This venom is then used to create a medicine called antivenom that is used to save the lives of people bitten by snakes. Snakes will keep producing more venom for as long as they live.
Can a venomous snake kill itself? The second reason snakes don’t die from their own venom is that snakes make their own antidote, which is a medicine that protects them from the venom. These cells can protect the snake only from small amounts of venom, though, so snakes can get very sick or die if they are bitten by another venomous snake.