Sunday, August 5, 2007
Some special characters of "THE KING" and its Venom
It has a head as big as a man’s hand and can stand tall enough to look you straight in the eye.
Its venom can stun your nervous system and stop your breathing.
The king cobra’s deadly fangs are almost half an inch (8-10 millimeters) long. Because they are fixed to the upper jaw, they have to be short. If they were longer, the king might bite the floor of its mouth and commit royal suicide.
Angled back into the snake’s mouth, the fangs help push the prey on its path to the stomach.
A regal bite delivers venom from glands attached to the fangs. The flexing of a small muscle forces the venom through the hollow fangs into the victim.
Within minutes, neurotoxins stun the prey’s nervous system, especially the impulses for breathing. Other toxins start digesting the paralyzed victim.
Drop for drop, a king cobra’s venom is actually less lethal than a common cobra’s. The king more than makes up for it by delivering more venom per bite—as much as .2 fluid ounces (7 milliliters) of liquid.
That’s enough to kill an elephant, or 20 people.
The Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine has tested various cobra venoms for use in treating diseases such as tuberculosis and cholera.
In the United States, the study of cobra venom has yielded pain relievers such as Cobroxin, used to block nerve transmission and Nyloxin, used for severe arthritis pain.
The antidote arrives on horseback... or rather, via horse neck. A small, nonlethal dose of venom “milked” from the fangs of a live king cobra is injected into a healthy horse. Once the horse’s body has developed antibodies to the venom, blood is removed from the jugular vein. It’s then mixed with an anticoagulant and a preservative, and the antibodies are separated and stored as antivenin.