Snakes on a... yeah, the joke's already getting old

Mary
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Nonetheless, in honor of the event we've all been waiting for -- Snakes on a Plane comes out today! -- here are ten bits of snake trivia for your (and your moviegoing pals') amusement, courtesy of UKTV:

1. Terrible teeth. Unlike regular teeth, the fangs of a venomous snake are hollow. This means they can act inject their toxin with the efficiency of a hypodermic syringe. And they don't need much... the venom of a cobra could kill an elephant.

2. Particular poisons. Snake venom is a complex mixture of proteins that, once unleashed, rapidly spreads through the victim's body. Neurotoxic venom, which destroys the nervous system, is the variety that will kill you quickest.

3. Cannibalism. Many snakes are only too happy to gobble each other up. Some, such as the ravenous California Kingsnake, like nothing more than to feast upon others of their own species.
4. British snakes. If you thought all poisonous snakes stuck to sunnier climes than ours, think again. Britain boasts the adder, and though its bite is rarely fatal, it's more than capable of giving you a nasty, limb-swelling dose of venom.

5. Pythons. Blessed with massively flexible jaws and hugely muscular bodies, pythons can and will crush and eat just about anything. A large meal, say, a human being, will sustain a snake for a year or more.

6. The fastest. The swiftest snake on land is the Black Mamba, a notorious African monster that can reach speeds of up to 12 miles per hour. And they're amongst the most deadly too.

7. Spitting snakes. Spitting cobras actually spray their venom from their fangs with quick muscular contractions that can send their toxin up to three metres away. Worse still, they'll be aiming at your eyes when they do it.

8. Snakes' young. Baby snakes are often more dangerous than their parents. While adults carefully ration out their venom, a baby snake lacks such self-control and will unleash a much higher dose of venom in its bite.

9. Dead but still deadly. A dead rattlesnake can still bite if you get too close, because the snake's heat sensors remain active until rigor mortis is complete, a day or more later. Placing a warm object, such as your hand, near the snake's mouth will still cause it to have a go!

10. Most poisonous. Cobras and Mambas get all the notoriety, but the most toxic snake of all is the Inland Taipan of Australia. It could kill 100 people with a single bite, but thankfully it reserves its wrath for rats.

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August 18, 2006 - 10:30am
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