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Interesting article. I didn’t know there were nocturnal snakes.
There are rumors going around concerning harmless looking snakes. I would love to know the facts. Can poisonous and non-poisonous snakes cross-breed? Or, is that just a story someone made up to rationalize killing ALL snakes? There are stories floating around of snakes that look like grass snakes or other harmless varieties that are as venomous as diamond-backs because they are cross-breeds.
Every year we have a “Rattlesnake Rodeo” in a nearby community. I understand the event was started as an attemmp to keep our large poisonous snake population down and to collect snakes to “milk” their venom that is then used to create anti-venom. The story goes that by culling out so many venomous snakes over the years, we have reduced their population to a point that sometimes they breed with non-poisonous varieties as a survival mechanism. I would love to find out the real facts. Is that even possible? http://www.rattlesnakerodeo.com/rr/
No, that is impossible, but interesting theory (way outside of the biologic liklihood, though).
Venom is collected from rattlesnakes (and many other species as well as rattle snake antivenom will do nothing for lets say cobra bites), and then injected into horses at low doses so that they produce their own antibodies to venom, and that is then purified into crystalized antivenom and sold.
Yep, that theory is pure nonsense... Biologically, it would be equivalent to a human breeding with a spider monkey to make humans with prehensile tails, it just wouldn't happen. Rattlesnake roundups do pose a threat to snake populations though... Keep in mind that snakes never become "overpopulated", their numbers fluctuate with the availability of their rodent prey, and the ecosystem will naturally sustain the proper number of them without any input from humans. Unfortunately, people tend to think that these natural populations mean the area is "infested" with them (that's like saying an area is infested with bluebirds), and organize these roundups just for the sake of needlessly killing these animals. In many of the the areas around these roundups, rattlesnakes have become so scarce that the people taking part in them not only have to drive long distances (sometimes even out of state) to catch the snakes, but they also collect the wrong species too, which may be protected.
Additionally, it is a myth that pharmaceutical companies use the venom collected at roundups to produce antivenin. The methods used to extract venom from animals at these killing sprees are horribly unhygienic (not to mention they are not even sure which species they are using), and no company would ever use such a product in the manufacture of their medication. It's basically just another fib they tell to the public to attempt to justify their needless killing of wildlife.