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Five Reasons Why Snakes Are Freaking Scary

garter jpgPhoto by Norbert Rosing/National Geographic Stock


Admit it. You're terrified of snakes. Well guess what--it's perfectly natural!

Some scientists also noticed that a lot of people are afraid of snakes, and they wondered if humans have a built-in fear of the slithery creatures. Their research showed that our fear of snakes is not innate since not all babies are afraid of snakes. However, we do learn to fear them very quickly.

Being afraid of snakes just makes sense. Snakes have many habits and characteristics that can downright give you the willies. Here a just a few.
 
1) Postmortem predation

You might think that if you were

to fatally wound a rattlesnake by, say, shooting

it multiple times, you could consider it safe to handle. Well guess

again.

Thanks to a reflex,

rattlesnakes can bite and inject venom for a surprisingly long time

after they are dead. Even if a rattler is decapitated, the head

can still envenomize you for up to an hour after it has been severed

from the body.

2)
Toxin-stealing trickery

Some conniving snakes can actually

swipe

poison from their prey. All the Rhabdophis tigrinus snake has to

do is gobble up a few poisonous toads and voila, the snake is

poisonous itself.

To be fair, these snakes can't recycle the

poison to kill more prey. They do, however, collect it in glands to use

for defense. If

predators were to attack and claw at the snakes, the glands might rip

open and hit

the predator with a face full of poison.



Take that, predators.

3) Avian abilities

Part of what makes snakes so creepy is the

way they slither on the ground.  The movement is so unnatural and fluid

that it totally grosses us out. Well it seems that some snakes aren't

just limited to slithering on the ground--they can also slither through

the air.

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it: snakes can freaking fly.

Chrysopelea

snakes can glide up to 330 feet through the air by simply holding their

bodies at an angle and squirming. They look a little like those

undulating ribbons that dancers use, except in this case, they're undulating ribbons of horror.

Scientists

have studied the snakes in order to understand how the heck these

reptiles are able to stay airborne. They found that the angle of their

descent, their flattened bodies that they hold in an S shape, and their

slithering movement all contribute to this terrifying feat. See the video below for a demonstration.




4) Venom that acts like ketchup

Most people, scientists

included, assume that snakes inject their venom by biting their prey and

squirting the venom from their fangs. While some snakes do deliver venom

from hollow fangs, the majority of snakes use grooves along the side of

their fangs to direct a flow of venom into the bite.

Venom,

however, is very cohesive. It sticks to itself so well that,

theoretically, the snake could have a hard time getting it to flow from the tooth groove into the wound. Luckily, the snake is also wrestling with a

recently-bit victim, so the thrashing around shakes the venom into the wound

quite nicely.

As one writer pointed out, this cohesive property

of venom is similar to ketchup and other gels. Like venom, ketchup gets stuck up in

the bottle, but with a little shaking it all comes spilling out into

your burger.

5) Drinkable venom

Venom is like

ketchup in another way: you can eat it.

Venom isn't the same as

poison--it can't fry your skin or be absorbed through your

stomach. It can only hurt you if it goes directly into your bloodstream

via an open wound. If you swallow it, your stomach will simply

break it down and it will be harmless by the time it reaches your blood.

But

before you enjoy a tall glass of modified snake spit, remember that

any kind of mouth sores or stomach ulcers are open wounds and are

therefore gateways into your bloodstream.

I'm not exactly sure

why it's scary that people can drink snake venom,

except maybe that it's scary awesome

Katherine Dickinson
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