“Snake venom is highly modified saliva containing zootoxins that facilitates the immobilization and digestion of prey, and defends against a threat. It is injected by unique fangs after a bite but some species are also able to spit.
Venoms contain more than 20 different compounds, mostly proteins and polypeptides. A complex mixture of proteins, enzymes, and various other substances with toxic and lethal properties serves to immobilize the prey animal, enzymes play an important role in the digestion of prey, and various other substances are responsible for important but non-lethal biological effects. Some of the proteins in snake venom have very specific effects on various biological functions including blood coagulation, blood pressure regulation, transmission of the nervous or muscular impulse and have been developed for use as pharmacological or diagnostic tools or even useful drugs
There are four distinct types of venom that act on the body differently.
- Proteolytic venom dismantles the molecular structure of the area surrounding and including the bite.
- Hemotoxic venoms act on the heart and cardiovascular system.
- Neurotoxic venom acts on the nervous system and brain.
- Cytotoxic venom has a localized action at the site of the bite.
Hemotoxins cause hemolysis, the destruction of red blood cells (erythrocytes), or induce blood coagulation (clotting).
Snake example: most vipers and many cobra species. The tropical rattlesnake Crotalus durissusproduces convulxin, a coagulant.”