MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: Would eating an animal succumbed to a venomous snake be harmful?

Date: Thu Jan 26 15:31:49 2006
Posted By: Bryan Grieg Fry, Deputy Director
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1138251816.Gb

No because the toxins in snake venoms are proteins.  They cannot cross the mucus-membrane 
and the proteinases in the stomach would make short work of them.  This is why carnival people 
can get away with drinking snake venom.  However, if they have just flossed their teen and have 
bleeding gums or have an ulcer then this could provide a route of entry for the venom.

If an animal died, however, from eating a poisonous animal such as the fugu fish, where the 
toxin is an organic toxin (tetrodotoxin in this case), then they would also suffer the same effects 
since organic toxins can cross the mucus membrane and also aren't broken down by the stomach 


Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry
ARC-APD Research Fellow
Deputy Director
Australian Venom Research Unit,
Department of Pharmacology,
School of Medicine, 
University of Melbourne,
Parkville, Victoria
3010 Australia
Phone 61 3 8344 7753
Fax 61 3 9348 2048
Population and Evolutionary Genetics Unit
Museum Victoria
GPO Box 666E, Melbourne VIC 3001

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