“Venomous” Bites from Non-Venomous Snakes

“Venomous” Bites from Non-Venomous Snakes, 1st Edition

A Critical Analysis of Risk and Management of “Colubrid” Snake Bites

“Venomous” Bites from Non-Venomous Snakes, 1st Edition,Scott Weinstein,David Warrell,Julian White,Daniel Keyler,ISBN9780123877321

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The first book dedicated to critical analysis of the medical risks of non-front-fanged colubroid snakes

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Key Features

  • Fills a gap in the toxinological, medical and herpetological literature by providing a comprehensive review of this entire assemblage of snakes, with particular attention given to their capacity, real or rumored, to cause harm to humans
  • A patient-centered, evidence-based approach is applied to analyzing documented case reports of bites inflicted by approximately 100 species.
  • Clinical management of medically significant bites from non-front-fanged colubroids is methodically reviewed, and specific recommendations are provided


This book is the first significant contribution to thoroughly examine the potential hazards associated with snakes of the former family, Colubridae. This family contained >65% of living snake species (approximately 3,000 taxa) and has recently been split into multiple families. Many of these snakes produce oral secretions that contain toxins and other biologically-active substances. A large variety of these snakes figure in the pet industry, yet little documented information or formal study of their potential medical importance has been published. Therefore, although the possible medical importance of many of these species has been subjected to speculation since the mid-nineteenth century, there is a limited amount of useful descriptive information regarding the real hazard (or lack thereof) of snakes belonging to this diverse, artificial family.

There is a need for "one-stop shopping" offering information regarding their possible toxicity and clinical relevance as well as recommendations for medical management of their bites. This book is the first synthesis of this information and includes evidence-based risk assessment, hazard rankings and specific recommendations regarding important species, many common in captivity.


Herpetologists, physicians, toxinologists/toxicologists and allied health personnel

Scott Weinstein

Affiliations and Expertise

Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, Australia

David Warrell

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Oxford, UK

Julian White

Affiliations and Expertise

Women’s and Children’s Hospital. North Adelaide, Australia

Daniel Keyler

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Minnesota, USA

“Venomous” Bites from Non-Venomous Snakes, 1st Edition

  • Dedication
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • About the Authors
  • Introduction
  • 1. An Overview of the Artificial Assemblage, the Colubridae
  • 2. Differences Between Buccal Gland Secretion and Associated Delivery Systems of “True” Venomous Snakes and “Colubrid” Snakes
    • 2.1. Basic Considerations Regarding Gland Structure and Function
    • 2.2. Overview of Hypotheses for the Evolution of Venom-Delivery Systems
    • 2.3. Theories Considering the Evolution of Canaliculated Fangs and Enlarged Grooved Teeth
    • 2.4. Duvernoy’s Glands and Venom Glands: A Question of Semantics?
  • 3. A Summary of the Toxinology of Duvernoy’s Secretions
  • 4. Medically Significant Bites by “Colubrid” Snakes
    • 4.1. Typical Features of Documented Cases and Evidence-Based Risk
    • 4.2. Some Representative Genera: Typical Features of Bites and an Overview of Their Natural History and Toxinology
    • 4.3. Life-Threatening and Fatal Cases: “Venomous Colubrids” and Assessment of Evidence-Based Risk
    • 4.4. Aberrant Cases and Representative Cases Without Clear Etiology: A Critical Assessment of Risk
    • 4.5. Pitfalls Noted in Documented Cases: Differentiating Perceived Versus Evidence-Based Risk
    • 4.6. Recommendations for Management of Medically Significant “Colubrid” Bites
  • 5. Summary and Conclusions
  • Appendix A. Representative Unverified Cases of Medically Significant “Colubrid” Bites Posted on the Internet
  • Appendix B. Representative Lethal Potency Ranges and Yields of Duvernoy’s Secretions and Venoms from Selected Non-Front-Fanged Colubroid Snakes
  • Appendix C. Strategies of Management of Gram-Negative Septicemia: Are There Lessons to Be Learned for Managing Venom-Induced Coagulopathies?
  • Appendix D. Legal Considerations Regarding Private Ownership of Venomous Snakes (Including Hazard Level 1 “Colubrids”): An Opinionated Essay
  • Appendix E. List of Osteological Specimens Examined at AMNH
  • Additional Recommended Reading
  • A Call for Cases
  • Bibliography
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