Rattlesnake Venom & Native American Venom use

By Philip Bonafede

Rattlesnake venom is a complex protein consisting of neurotoxins and hemolytic toxins. Neurotoxins cause pain, paralysis, and respiratory and pulmonary duress. Hemolytic toxins dissolve tissue and are similar to human saliva. While there have been many studies on rattlesnake venom in general there are no local rattlesnake venom studies which I am aware of which determine our local species toxicity levels.

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I have observed rattlesnakes feedings over the past 25 years. The question of which rattlesnake venom is more potent remains a mystery. While books claim the Mojave Rattlesnake has the most potent venom in the Mojave Desert, it is difficult tell the difference between a Mojave Rattlesnake or Speckled Rattlesnake bite. Both venoms immobilize a small rat in less than 30 seconds. Considering all the variables the toxicity of each appear very similar. At times the Speckled Rattlesnake even seems more potent than the Mojave Rattlesnake. Keeping in mind the variables: How much venom was injected, did the fangs hit an artery/nerve, size and species of the rat, had the snake eaten a day earlier, and so on. Fascinating data: According to a research study at the University of Riverside which I read in 1990, rattlesnake venom remains potent after it is dried for up to 28 years! This would explain why the Native American Cahuilla Indians used to dip their arrows in the venom to help kill large prey. You may assume the deer or sheep would be contaminated by the venom in the arrows? Not true. The local Native Americans lived in harmony in this area for well over 5,000 years! They learned that rattlesnake venom was completely digestible and nearly identical to the saliva in the human mouth. We digest food with saliva but if human saliva were injected into your arm the results would be as dangerous as a rattlesnake bite. Saliva is essentially a hemolytic toxin.

Most common snake bite victims in USA?

1. Intoxicated male adolescents aged 17-35
2. Professional herpetologists handling hundreds of rattlesnakes daily for scientific research
3. Professional rattlesnake handlers
4. Hikers who fail to watch where they are reaching or stepping
5. Rogue religious groups

Fossil evidence suggests Rattlesnakes have lived here for 3.5 million years.

Facts about bites: A Rattlesnake can strike in 1/16th of a second. 15% of all bites are dry (no venom injected). The severity of the bite is determined by the size of the rattlesnake. Bigger snake, larger venom glands. Baby rattlesnakes are not more dangerous than an adult, they have tiny venom glands! For more information contact me through Facebook at: Phil’s K9 Rattlesnake Aversion Classes or email at pbdesert@earthlink.net. Text 760-401-4488

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