|MadSci Network: Zoology|
G'day Kate! I'm assuming the australian brown snake you're talking about is the one you normally try to avoid when you're bushwalking, it's called Pseudonaja textilis, the Common Brown Snake. It's a pretty nasty bugger and often when they bite they hit you so hard it leaves a really nasty bruise and it usually bites a few times. But I'll get to the point.. Although it's fangs and venom yield are small, the venom is highly neurotoxic and coagulant. This means that it interferes with the electrical activities of your nerves, preventing them from working, and it makes your blood clot. The venom also has some blood-destroying properties making the Common Brown snake one of our most deadly species!! You can find out more this snake and a lot of other Australian Snakes in "Snakes of Australia" by Graeme F. Gow, 1983 (Angus and Robertson Publishers). I hope I answered your question Kate, but remember, snakes are more scared of us than we are of them, so the coming across one in the wild doesn't happen often. But watch where you step anyway!! Happy Trails Rochelle. ADMIN NOTE: Bryan Fry adds Brown snakes contain three main types of molecules in their venoms: neurotoxic peptides (6-8 kDa), neurotoxic phospholipase A2s (14 kDa), and prothrombin activators (50 + kDa). The neurotoxic peptides act postsynaptically in a manner similar to curare. The PLA2s act presynaptically and destroy the nerves. The prothrombin activators are procoagulant but have a net anticoagulant results. They convert fibrinogen to fibrin, but then destroy the fibrin rather than letting it form clots. Thus, the blood becomes essentially incoagulable. There are other minor bleeding factors and also hypotensive agents in the blood. The statement regarding the bruising is incorrect. Bruising would be caused by venom effects rather than physical trauma. Further information regarding Australian venomous animals can be found on the Australian Venom & Toxin Database http://www.uq.edu.au/~ddbfry/index.html Cheers, Bryan Grieg Fry Centre for Drug Design & Development University of Queensland
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