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Contents

1. Introduction
2. Psychology of survival
3. Survival planning and survival kits
4. Basic survival medicine
5. Shelters
6. Water procurement
7. Firecraft
8. Food procurement
9. Survival use of plants
10. Poisonous plants
11. Dangerous animals
12. Field-expedient weapons, tools, and equipment
13. Desert survival
14. Tropical survival
15. Cold weather survival
16. Sea survival
17. Expedient water crossings
18. Field-expedient direction finding
19. Signaling techniques
20. Survival movement in hostile areas
21. Camouflage
22. Contact with people
23. Survival in man-made hazards

A. Survival kits
B. Edible and medicinal plants
C. Poisonous plants
D. Dangerous insects and arachnids
E. Poisonous snakes and lizards
F. Dangerous fish and mollusks
G. Clouds: foretellers of weather
H. Contingency plan of action format

Survival Gear

Handheld GPS
Specialty Outdoor Gear
Digital Compasses
Survival Books
Hunting and Fishing Magazines

POISONOUS SNAKES AND LIZARDS

If you fear snakes, it is probably because you are unfamiliar with them or you have wrong information about them. There is no need for you to fear snakes if you know--

    • Their habits.
    • How to identify the dangerous kinds.
    • Precautions to take to prevent snakebite.
    • What actions to take in case of snakebite (Chapter 3).
For a man wearing shoes and trousers and living in a camp, the danger of being bitten by a poisonous snake is small compared to the hazards of malaria, cholera, dysentery, or other diseases.
Nearly all snakes avoid man if possible. Reportedly, however, a few--the king cobra of Southeast Asia, the bushmaster and tropical rattlesnake of South America, and the mamba of Africa--sometimes aggressively attack man, but even these snakes do so only occasionally. Most snakes get out of the way and are seldom seen.

WAYS TO AVOID SNAKEBITE

Snakes are widely distributed. They are found in all tropical, subtropical, and most temperate regions. Some species of snakes have specialized glands that contain a toxic venom and long hollow fangs to inject their venom.

Although venomous snakes use their venom to secure food, they also use it for self-defense. Human accidents occur when you don't see or hear the snake, when you step on them, or when you walk too close to them.

Follow these simple rules to reduce the chance of accidental snakebite:

  • Don't sleep next to brush, tall grass, large boulders, or trees. They provide hiding places for snakes. Place your sleeping bag in a clearing. Use mosquito netting tucked well under the bag. This netting should provide a good barrier.
  • Don't put your hands into dark places, such as rock crevices, heavy brush, or hollow logs, without first investigating.
  • Don't step over a fallen tree. Step on the log and look to see if there is a snake resting on the other side.
  • Don't walk through heavy brush or tall grass without looking down. Look where you are walking.
  • Don't pick up any snake unless you are absolutely positive it is not venomous.
  • Don't pick up freshly killed snakes without first severing the head. The nervous system may still be active and a dead snake can deliver a bite.

SNAKE GROUPS

Snakes dangerous to man usually fall into two groups: proteroglypha and solenoglypha. Their fangs and their venom best describe these two groups (Figure E-1).

Group Fang Type Venom Type
Proteroglypha Fixed Usually dominant neurotoxic
Solenoglypha Folded Usually dominant hemotoxic

Figure E-1. Snake group characteristics.

Fangs

The proteroglypha have, in front of the upper jaw and preceding the ordinary teeth, permanently erect fangs. These fangs are called fixed fangs.

The solenoglypha have erectile fangs; that is, fangs they can raise to an erect position. These fangs are called folded fangs.

Venom

The fixed-fang snakes (proteroglypha) usually have neurotoxic venoms. These venoms affect the nervous system, making the victim unable to breathe.

The folded-fang snakes (solenoglypha) usually have hemotoxic venoms. These venoms affect the circulatory system, destroying blood cells, damaging skin tissues, and causing internal hemorrhaging.

Remember, however, that most poisonous snakes have both neurotoxic and hemotoxic venom. Usually one type of venom in the snake is dominant and the other is weak.

Poisonous Versus Nonpoisonous Snakes

No single characteristic distinguishes a poisonous snake from a harmless one except the presence of poison fangs and glands. Only in dead specimens can you determine the presence of these fangs and glands without danger.

DESCRIPTIONS OF POISONOUS SNAKES

There are many different poisonous snakes throughout the world. It is unlikely you will see many except in a zoo. This manual describes only a few poisonous snakes. You should, however, be able to spot a poisonous snake if you--

  • Learn about the two groups of snakes and the families in which they fall (Figure E-2).
  • Examine the pictures and read the descriptions of snakes in this appendix.

Group Family Local Effects Systemic Effects

Solenoglypha Usually dominant hemotoxic venom affecting the circulatory system

Viperidae

True vipers with movable front fangs


Crotalidae

Pit vipers with movable front fangs


Trimeresurus
Strong pain, swelling, necrosis

Hemorrhaging, internal organ breakdown, destroying of blood cells

Proteroglypha Usually dominant neurotoxic venom affecting the nervous system

Elapidae

Fixed front fangs

   
    Cobra Various pains, swelling, necrosis Respiratory collapse
    Krait No local effects Respiratory collapse
    Micrurus Little or no pain; no local symptoms Respiratory collapse
  Laticaudinae and Hydrophidae Ocean-lilving with fixed front fangs Pain and local swelling Respiratory collapse
Note: The venom of the Gaboon viper, the rhinoceros viper, the tropical rattlesnake, and the Mojave rattlesnake is both strongly hemotoxic and strongly neurotoxic.

Figure E-2. Clinical effects of snake bites.

LIZARDS

There is little to fear from lizards as long as you follow the same precautions as for avoiding snakebite. Usually, there are only two poisonous lizards: the Gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard. The venom of both these lizards is neurotoxic. The two lizards are in the same family, and both are slow moving with a docile nature.

The komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), although not poisonous, can be dangerous due to its large size. These lizards can reach lengths of 3 meters and weigh over 115 kilograms. Do not try to capture this lizard.

For information on a specific poisonous snake or lizard, click on one of the links below:


  Snake Families:

  - Colubridae
  - Crotalidae
  - Elapidae
  - Viperidae

  POISONOUS SNAKES OF THE AMERICAS:

  - American copperhead
  - Bushmaster
  - Coral snake
  - Cottonmouth
  - Eastern diamondback rattlesnake
  - Eyelash pit viper
  - Fer-de-lance
  - Jumping viper
  - Mojave rattlesnake
  - Tropical rattlesnake
  - Western diamondback rattlesnake

  POISONOUS SNAKES OF EUROPE:

  - Common adder
  - Long-nosed adder
  - Pallas' viper
  - Ursini's viper

  POISONOUS SNAKES OF AFRICA AND ASIA:

  - Boomslang
  - Bush viper
  - Common cobra
  - Egyptian cobra
  - Gaboon viper
  - Green mamba
  - Green tree pit viper
  - Habu pit viper
  - Horned desert viper
  - King cobra
  - Krait
  - Levant viper
  - Malayan pit viper
  - McMahon's viper
  - Mole viper or burrowing vipe
  - Palestinian viper
  - Puff adder
  - Rhinoceros viper or river jack
  - Russell's viper
  - Sand viper
  - Saw-scaled viper
  - Wagler's pit viper or temple viper

  POISONOUS SNAKES OF AUSTRALASIA:

  - Australian copperhead
  - Death adder
  - Taipan
  - Tiger snake

  POISONOUS SEA SNAKES:

  - Banded sea snake
  - Yellow-bellied sea snake

  POISONOUS LIZARDS:

  - Gila monster
  - Mexican beaded lizard


Poisonous snakes and lizards



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