Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Snakes Again and Again
With the season of the serpent well upon us, a couple of interesting (I thought) snake questions recently appeared on my screen. The first reader wondered if it was true that a pit viper will bite itself in order to kill itself if it knows it's dying anyway. People who know snakes much better than I do say "no," and, in fact, state that poisonous snakes are immune to their own specific venom. So, there you go. The second reader asked if putting kerosene on pit viper bites would help. Well, that theory goes back a long way, at least more than a century in U. S. where rural dwellers soaked snakebitten extremities in kerosene and didn't die. But so few people die from poisonous snakebite in the U.S. anyway, almost always less than 10 deaths a year from thousands of bites in recent decades, the I-tried-it-and-it-worked theory is useless. And, again, the experts are pretty sure, based on science, that a kerosene-soaked snakebite, although it wouldn't hurt, wouldn't help.