Do snakes run out of venom?

Springfield snake

Venom is only slightly different in makeup from human saliva, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the deadliest liquids found on the planet. Different species of snake will have different types of venom, some of which can cause just localized injuries or wounds, while others literally disable and paralyze the prey, enabling the snake to consume it whole, and even sometimes when it is still alive.

Not all snakes have venom. In fact, there are only around 300 venomous species of snake out of 2,700 plus species discovered so far. Those that are venomous will create the toxic fluid in glands that are situated not far from the snake’s eyes. In many species, these glands are found just below the eyes, close enough to reach the fangs of the snake. These fangs, similar to teeth, are usually hollow. What this does is turn the teeth into needles, ensuring that the venom is able to puncture the skin and get right into the bloodstream of any potential prey. Snakes aren't the only creature to use venom. In fact, spiders are well known to use it, but their venom is used to digest the food so it can then suck it dry, whereas the venom used by snakes is use to overpower their victim with the intention of swallowing it and letting the stomach acid do the rest of the work.

Each snake will have a different amount of venom available, stored within these glands. Hemotoxic venom, for example, is well known for its ability to affect the internal organs and the blood. It can cause seriously inflammatory problems, and it can also cause cells within the body to breakdown. Neurotoxic venom bites are often considered to be the worst of all venomous toxins, causing death in worst cases, seizures at best. The entire nervous system can be affected by this venom type, causing some rather odd and unusual side effects. The King Cobra is a snake known for the latter of the two venoms - Neurotoxic. The Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake has venom that is hemotoxic in nature.

When the snake uses the venom, injecting it into prey which it intends to eat or disable, it uses some of the store from the glands. When the glands have run out, they need time to rejuvenate and in some species, particularly those with large reserves of venom, the replenishment time can run into the months or weeks. Despite being devoid (or running low) of venom, most snakes can still inflict serious injuries with sharp teeth and powerful body muscles. Even snakes that appear to have run out of venom can be dangerous, and it is not always instantly obvious what kind of species you’re faced with — venomous or not — by just looking at the appearance of the snake alone. Go back to the home page: Snakes of Springfield