Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pit Viper Snake Bite

Pit Viper
The pit viper has “pits,” on their heads. These organs help the snake locate prey and adjust the amount of venom used according to the size of their prey. The glands, or venom sacks are connected to the fangs, which act like hollow hypodermic needles. These fangs are voluntarily controlled by the snake. They can raise either one or both fangs, or neither. When fangs break off, there is usually another fang below, or there may be one next to it. Therefore, snakebites can present as one puncture wound, two, three or even four (see photo of timber rattlesnake for example of multiple fangs).
The pit viper can strike about 50% of its body length, and has been recorded to strike at about 7 feet per second. The forked tongue is equivalent to our nose. The snake senses chemicals in the air with their tongue, aiding in the location of prey. Their pupils are elliptical, and all pit vipers in the United States have elliptical pupils, as opposed to non-venomous snakes which have round pupils.
The age of a rattlesnake cannot be determined by the number of rattles. Rattles frequently break off, and therefore is an unreliable method to determine age.
DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE This snake is best noted for its distinct alternating black and white rings on its tail, just above the rattle. A light stripe behind the eye reaches the lip in the front corner of the mouth. The diamond shaped pattern is not clear cut and distinct. The snake may appear speckled. The diamondback is responsible for most of the poisonous snake bites. It is a large aggressive pit viper that can exceed 6 feet in length.

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