The World Around Us

Chemicals in the Natural World

What is snake venom?

Most venoms are mixtures of dozens of compounds, and the active toxic ingredients are proteins that wreak havoc on the recipient in a variety of ways. While the exact enzymes vary from species to species, and even geographically within a species, many snake venoms contain some sort of neurotoxins which block signals sent through your nervous system, leading to numbness or even paralysis.


An expert extracts venom from a snake, which will later be used to create antivenom for snake bite victims. Snakes can have different types of venom: neurotoxins or cytotoxins. Neurotoxins work by blocking nerve function, while cytotoxins destroy cells directly.


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