South African snake escapes from bird


This video says about itself:

BIRD vs SNAKE – Snake Uses Clever Technique to get Away

24 November 2016

Watch how cleverly deceptive the snake becomes by playing dead to fool its captor…

Awesome moment captured on film by 53 year old technician, Frank De Souza on 14 November 2016 in Marloth Park.

Frank told Latest Sightings: “I’ve seen many snakes over the years but never a southern vine snake. I know them to be very shy and highly venomous. There is no antidote if bitten by one of these snakes.

This was the first time I had ever seen a bird fighting a snake. There were 4 of us on a walk looking for birds to take pictures of when suddenly we saw a Grey Headed Bush-shrike on the dirt road jumping around and flying up and down.

As we slowly went closer we saw a snake not far off. The bush-shrike and snake began to fight each another until the snake pretended to be dead. The bird was not so easily fooled and the fighting then continued.

Suddenly the bird was now fighting with two snakes at the same time. We immediately started filming.

My wife Alida and I were both amazed to have captured this sighting, it was a fantastic experience.

The snake who originally acted dead woke up and shot off like a rocket into the bushes leaving the bird to attack the second snake until it also played dead. Finally he kept pulling the snake around and we left.”

Cottonmouth snake in Florida, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

18 November 2016

The Water Moccasin or Cottonmouth snake is the venomous snake a bird watcher in Florida is most likely to encounter. This video shows that the typical behavior of this beautiful snake is to freeze and then move away slowly and only display a threat of the wide open “cottonmouth” if you continue to invade its space. It goes without saying you should not mess with them!

After a few minutes of admiring and slightly annoying this majestic snake I let it move on into the roadside canal. The real danger with these snakes is that since they are heavy and not fast, they freeze in deep cover where they are near impossible to spot and if you’re walking in heavy grass and brush you might accidentally step on them leading to a leg bite and a life-threatening situation. I recommend staying on trails if at all possible and being very careful around the edges of wetlands.

(Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti)

Comments: VENOMOUS: Cottonmouth bites can be quite dangerous. The victim should seek immediate medical care from a physician or hospital experienced in treating snakebite.

Smooth snake crosses sand


This video shows a smooth snake crossing sand in the Peel region in the southern Netherlands.

Hans Melters made this video.

Venomous snake in Sydney, Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

18 October 2016

Red-bellied black snake found outside bar in Sydney CBD.

By Daniel Uria in Australia:

Red-bellied black snake found outside of Australian pub

Oct. 18, 2016 at 2:41 PM

SYDNEY — Pub goers at a business district in Australia were shocked to find a possibly wounded snake slithering outside of the property.

The Morrison in Sydney shared a photo of the red-bellied black snake which was spotted outside the establishment on Tuesday afternoon.

“The staff couldn’t believe what they were seeing,” the bar’s manager told The Australian. “You don’t expect to see a massive deadly snake in the city while you are relaxing and having a drink.”

Police contacted handler Harley Jones who said the 4-foot long snake was in good condition although blood on its head indicated it may have suffered an injury.

“The snake’s injury is as much of a mystery as why it was there in the first place,” Jones said. “There was quite a lot of blood on the footpath.”

Possibly, a car caused the snake’s injury. Dutch NOS TV writes today (translated):

The vet found no internal injury to the snake. The animal has been named George, after the street where it was first seen in Sydney. It will probably get released in the wild in the coming weeks.

Red-bellied black snakes can grow to 2.5 meters long. The poison is fatal, although there are only a few known cases of people who have actually died because of the effects of a bite.

From the Australian Museum:

Red-bellied Black Snake

This beautiful serpent shares our love of sunshine and water, and is a familiar sight to many outdoor adventurers in eastern Australia. Attitudes towards these largely inoffensive snakes are slowly changing, however they are still often seen as a dangerous menace and unjustly persecuted.

Red-bellied black snake stuck in beer can

By Tania Dowsett in Australia, October 2016:

Snake with drinking problem gets rescued from beer can

An Aussie venomous red-bellied black snake gets a little too curious about those last few drops of beer in an empty can

The other evening a lovely man called concerned about this poor red belly who obviously had a drinking problem. So we took him for some help and where else would I go calling: Craig Bergman who very kindly helped remove the can so we could treat him and get him back to nature.

Researchers Discover “Ghost Snake” in Madagascar


Quiet Kinetic

Malagasy cat-eyed snake The Malagasy cat-eyed snake (Madagascarophis meridionalis) is a relative of the ghost snake. Photo: Shutterstock

It might seem that, by 2016, it would be pretty rare to discover new species of animals. But a team of researchers from Louisiana State University have done just that.

They were looking for specimens of a different species when they found a snake they’d never seen before: Madagascarophis lolo, the ghost snake.

This snake’s very pale coloration and the fact that only one has ever been discovered earned it the name “ghost snake.” Lolo means ghost in the local Malagasy language.

The ghost snake belongs to a group of “cat-eyed snakes,” which have slit pupils like cats and are most active at night. They’re among the most common kinds of snake in Madagascar, but the closet relative of the ghost snake is found about 100 kilometers away, and it has only been…

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Rattlesnakes less venomous than their ancestors


This video from North America says about itself:

GoPro falls into pit of rattlesnakes

9 October 2015

Rattlesnake strikes GoPro and knocks it into pit of snakes.

From Science News in the USA:

Rattlesnakes have reduced their repertoire of venoms

Reptiles’ common ancestor possessed greater variety of toxic proteins

By Laurel Hamers

12:00pm, September 15, 2016

Modern rattlesnakes have pared down their weaponry stockpile from their ancestor’s massive arsenal. Today’s rattlers have irreversibly lost entire toxin-producing genes over the course of evolution, narrowing the range of toxins in their venom, scientists report September 15 in Current Biology.

“After going through all the work of evolving powerful toxins, over time, some snakes have dispensed with them,” says study coauthor Sean B. Carroll, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who is at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. These modern rattlesnakes produce smaller sets of toxins that might be more specialized to their prey.

Carroll, an evolutionary biologist, and his colleagues focused on a family of enzymes called phospholipase A2, or PLA2. Genes in the PLA2 family are one of the main sources of toxic proteins in the deadly cocktail of rattlesnake venom. This set of genes can be shuffled around, added to and deleted from to yield different collections of toxins.

Data from the genome — the complete catalog of an organism’s genetic material — can reveal how those genetic gymnastics have played out over time. Carroll’s team looked at the relevant genome regions in three modern rattlesnake species (western diamondback, eastern diamondback and Mojave) and also measured molecules that help turn genetic instructions into proteins. That showed not just how the genes were arranged, but which genes the snakes were actually using. Then, the scientists blended that data with genetic information about other closely related rattlesnakes to construct a potential evolutionary story for the loss of PLA2 genes in one group of snakes.

The most recent common ancestor of this group probably had a large suite of PLA2 genes 22 million years ago, the scientists found. That collection of genes, which probably came about through many gene duplications, coded for toxins affecting the brain, blood and muscles of the snake’s prey. But 4 million to 7 million years ago, some rattlesnake species independently dropped different combinations of those genes to get smaller and more specialized sets of venom toxins. For instance, three closely related rattlesnake species in the group lost the genes that made their venom neurotoxic.

“The surprise is [the genes’] wholesale loss at two levels: complete disappearance from the venom and complete disappearance from the genome,” Carroll says. In other words, some of the genes are still lurking in the genome but aren’t turned on. The proteins those genes produce don’t show up in the venom in modern snakes. But other genes have left the genome entirely — a more dramatic strategy than simple changes in gene regulation.

Environmental shifts might have encouraged this offloading of evolutionary baggage, Carroll says. If a certain snake species’ main food source stopped responding to a neurotoxin, the snake would waste energy producing a protein that didn’t do anything helpful.

Plus, a rattlesnake doesn’t just invest in producing venom. It also needs to produce antibodies and other proteins to protect itself from its own poison, says Todd Castoe, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Texas at Arlington who wasn’t involved in the study. As a snake’s weapon becomes more complex, its shield does too — and that protection can use up resources.

Researchers also found that venom genes might not be consistent even within a single species of rattlesnake, perhaps because snakes in different areas specialize in different prey. One western diamondback rattlesnake that Carroll’s team sampled had unexpected extra genes that the other western diamondbacks didn’t have. His lab is currently looking into these within-species differences in venom composition to see how dynamic the PLA2 genome region still is today.

As for the ancestral rattlesnake, it’s impossible to say exactly how powerful the now-extinct reptile’s venom was, Carroll says. But the wider variety of enzymes this rattlesnake could hypothetically produce would have given it more flexibility to adapt its poison to environmental curveballs — an ability that Castoe describes as “the pinnacle of nastiness.”

Editor’s note: Sean B. Carroll is on the board of trustees of Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News.

Big snakes in love, video


This video says about itself:

Have you ever seen??? The biggest and the most dangerous snakes making love in nature

Anaconda mating and king cobra mating.

Scientists have discovered why snakes are so long – and it could help humans with spinal injuries. A quirk of evolution means a particular gene stays ‘switched on’ for longer than usual during snakes’ embryonic development: here.