Poisonous Snakes and Science!

Evidently there is no longer a sacred ground when it comes to reporting! Now, I understand that the example below is a very small piece, but if enough people read it, it quickly becomes a “fact,” as most people attribute what they read in the news to be an accurate account of information. So as you read the below, please understand two things. The reporter (and I am guessing here) either didn’t do enough fact-checking or didn’t bother to ask the right people. I am hoping that the museum didn’t approve the article or, at minimum, wasn’t given the chance to approve it. If they were, then the museum needs to have their staff re-educated.

As I stated earlier in my Venom overview piece, there is a large difference between venom and poison. This is a fact which the reporter failed to look into as they state “poisonous species of amphibians and reptiles inhabiting Bulgaria” and “Sofia presents the most interesting poisonous snakes.”  There are NO poisonous snakes, never have been and most likely never will there be any “poisonous snakes.”

They then make a statement referring to data regarding the lethal dose for humans.  For those who are unaware, this is typically attributed to what is known as the” LD50 study” which means exactly this: When it comes to snake venom, toxin is given to a certain amount of lab animals, typically mice. When enough toxin is injected to cause a 50% death rate, you get the “LD50” result.

Now, where and how does this in any way accurately show what a snake venom would do to a human? As far as I know, human systems are completely different from those of a mouse. in addition to humans being significantly larger. I am sure that the scientist could extrapolate a working number, but to my knowledge, they really don’t. They give an “estimate”. This estimate is then taken as “fact” by many news media groups and is reported as such, or is not clarified by the reporter. This of course leaves the unsuspecting reader/viewer to draw their own conclusions.

It is not just a semantics game either. Ihis is literally taken by many people as facts! We hear it every day on television with more shows being centered around snake, other reptiles and amphibians. Fear sells and everyone is buying. People can, and do survive venomous bites everyday. Can we make a stand and stop the fear-mongering already? I have left a comment on the report in the hope you will too after reading this and discovering the truth for yourself. Okay, I am coming down off my pulpit now and encourage you to educate yourself and those around you.

New showcase in the Amphibians and Reptiles Hall at the NMNHS

Science Centric (1 May 2010 08:05 GMT) – A new showcase in the Amphibians and Reptiles Hall at the National Museum of Natural History, Sofia presents the most interesting poisonous snakes, as well as the most toxic frogs in the world. The visitors will receive contemporary, useful and interesting information about all the poisonous species of amphibians and reptiles inhabiting Bulgaria. They can learn facts about the amount of poison secreted from the most dangerous species, and data concerning the lethal dose for humans… [full story]