Saturday, February 12, 2005

Cobras Spit Venom at Eyes, Perfect Aim

Note: During a trip to Bangkok, my friends and I visited a snake farm, a favorite tourist attraction in Thailand. The cobras, in particular fascinated me. There were at least 20 in a ring of wire mesh and the proprietor was deliberately provoking them for our viewing pleasure. Although thrilling, it was rather senseless and risky. The king of snakes, the King Cobras are the most magnificent and one of the deadliest snakes in the world.

Hillary Mayell
for National Geographic News

If you're smart, you'll never come within six feet (two meters) of a spitting cobra. If you're unlucky and by some horrible chance you do, a word of advice: Close your eyes.

Katja Tzschätzsch, a research student at the University of Bonn in Germany, has demonstrated that the red Mozambique spitting cobra and the black-necked spitting cobra deliberately aim for the eyes of whomever or whatever they feel threatened by.

The lab results don't surprise snake experts.

"To my knowledge there hasn't been a lot of work done on whether they actually aim for the eyes. It's mostly been anecdotal evidence," said Bill Altimari, a herpetologist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. "But I'd be surprised if anyone in the field thinks otherwise. My experience has been that the red spitter and the black-neck went right for your eyes. Our keepers at the Philadelphia Zoo [where I used to work] always wore face masks."

Sam Lee, assistant supervisor in the Bronx Zoo's department of herpetology, concurs, again based on personal experience.

"These animals always aim for keepers' goggles," he said.

"Anyone at the zoo working with this type of snake wears a face mask because that's usually where they aim," added Dino Ferri, assistant curator for reptiles and amphibians at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

If everyone knows spitting cobras aim for the eyes, why ask the question?

"It was necessary to actually show this in order to ask the next question: How do cobras identify the eyes in different animals and humans?" said Guido Westhoff, the professor at the University of Bonn who supervised Tzschätzsch's work.

The Experiment

Katja Tzschätzsch used four red Mozambique and six black-necked spitting cobras. In her experiments she either stood face-to-face with them—protected by a plastic visor—or she used photos.

She recorded the spitting process using a high-speed video camera. "The snakes really do spit only at moving faces," was her first finding. "Movements involving the hand elicited no response from any of the snakes."

Only two cobras reacted to photos of faces.

The evaluation of the traces of venom on the photos and the visor revealed how accurate the both species' aim is: The black-necked spitting cobras hit at least one eye eight out of ten times. The Mozambique cobras hit their target every time.

What happens if a cobra's venom lands in your eye? The cocktail of toxins consists of nerve poisons and other components harmful to tissue. The sensitive cornea reacts with severe stinging pain. In the worst case these burns can lead to blindness.

The lesson is clear: If ever you're confronted by a spitting cobra (common in Africa and Asia) stand back at least 10 feet (3 meters) and protect your eyes.

To read the full story, click here,


Anonymous peegeedee said...

Two of the things that scare me most, (in the wild kingdom, I mean) are snakes, and BIG spiders. Yet, I am fascinated by both of them. If I ever saw one, alive, I would probably die of a HeartAttack, before it could bite me. Thanks for the information on the Cobras.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I'm going to try very hard never to be within 10 miles of these creatures. The article was quite fascinating though.

4:24 AM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 10.24
cheap oakley sunglasses, uggs outlet, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet, tory burch outlet, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet online, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, chanel handbags, replica watches, oakley sunglasses wholesale, longchamp outlet, prada handbags, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton outlet, nike air max, ugg boots, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany and co, ugg boots, michael kors outlet, polo outlet, burberry handbags, tiffany jewelry, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, gucci handbags, louis vuitton, nike free, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, burberry outlet, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet online, replica watches, christian louboutin uk, christian louboutin, kate spade outlet, nike outlet

4:53 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

coach outlet, north face uk, nike air max uk, coach outlet, hogan outlet, nike air max, kate spade, vans pas cher, nike air max uk, longchamp pas cher, true religion outlet, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister uk, ray ban uk, coach purses, hollister pas cher, ray ban pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, nike roshe run uk, north face, louboutin pas cher, true religion jeans, oakley pas cher, nike roshe, nike blazer pas cher, michael kors, air max, converse pas cher, true religion outlet, burberry pas cher, coach outlet store online, ralph lauren uk, lululemon canada, guess pas cher, true religion outlet, timberland pas cher, polo ralph lauren, nike free uk, sac longchamp pas cher, jordan pas cher, polo lacoste, michael kors, new balance, nike tn, mulberry uk, michael kors outlet, nike free run, michael kors pas cher, sac hermes, nike air force

4:55 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

jimmy choo outlet, north face outlet, bottega veneta, valentino shoes, nike huaraches, longchamp uk, nike roshe run, insanity workout, ghd hair, converse, mcm handbags, mont blanc pens, ferragamo shoes, herve leger, abercrombie and fitch, louboutin, converse outlet, reebok outlet, hollister, nfl jerseys, ray ban, timberland boots, asics running shoes, hermes belt, p90x workout, nike air max, soccer shoes, instyler, hollister clothing, baseball bats, giuseppe zanotti outlet, nike trainers uk, hollister, wedding dresses, new balance shoes, north face outlet, beats by dre, gucci, chi flat iron, vans, iphone 6 cases, mac cosmetics, oakley, nike air max, babyliss, ralph lauren, lululemon, celine handbags, vans outlet, soccer jerseys, oakley sunglasses, uggs on sale

4:56 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

montre pas cher, louis vuitton, marc jacobs, links of london, swarovski crystal, canada goose outlet, hollister, thomas sabo, moncler uk, karen millen uk, ugg pas cher, michael kors handbags, pandora uk, louis vuitton, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, wedding dresses, moncler outlet, canada goose, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, juicy couture outlet, lancel, pandora jewelry, canada goose, pandora jewelry, supra shoes, doke gabbana, moncler, moncler, michael kors outlet online, canada goose outlet, ugg, replica watches, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, ugg uk, canada goose uk, barbour, michael kors outlet, pandora charms, coach outlet, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, toms shoes, canada goose jackets, doudoune moncler, moncler, barbour uk, canada goose outlet, moncler, swarovski
ninest123 10.24

4:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home