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.
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