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After several bites the reptile is compara- differs in intensity and character accordtively harmless, but soon becomes dan- ing to the genera or species, but also gerous again.
varies enormously in the same individual The chemistry of snake poison has under various conditions of temperature, been investigated for centuries—in this 'climate, health, and state of vigor or excountry by Dr. Weir Mitchell and Dr. haustion at the time of the bite. As a Reichert. The French scientist, Gautier, poison it is intensely virulent, and may thought he had discovered a ptomaine in neither be sucked from a bite nor swalthe cobra's venom, but in reality there is lowed with impunity. very little known about the matter. Dr. A. Calmette, Director of the Pasteur Institute at Lille, declares he has produced an anti-toxin which is absolutely effective. Both Dr. Calmette and his colleagues of the Paris Museum of Natural History, have investigated for years the effects of the cobra's poison and they now claim that by vaccination with the new serum they can make rabbits absolutely immune and can transmit this immunity from the blood of animals so inoculated.
Similar experiments have been made by Professor Behring in Germany, and Dr. Roux in France. By the way, even in fair, pastoral France 60 or 70 people are killed every year by the vipers. At the Pasteur Institute in Paris there
TREE SACRED TO THE COBRA, WHICH THE HINDUS VENERATE. are kept a number of horses and cattle, not to speak of thou- The queer thing is that a snake cannot sands of guinea pigs, rabbits, fowls, poison itself nor one of its own species. mice, and other birds and animals, Nor can it do serious injury to another upon all of which important experiments genus of venomous snakes, whilst it kills are conducted with a view to lessening quickly the innocent varieties. the frightful mortality in India.
The poison kills by extinguishing in Dr. WeirMitchell's experiments some way the sources of nerve energy. showed that ferric chloride, bromide and The chief effect is upon the respiratory iodine destroyed crotaline venom; while apparatus, and death occurs by asphyxia. permanganate of potassium had great A cobra bite produces general and almost power to destroy that of the cobra di instant paralysis, and death is attended Capello.
with violent convulsions. Viperine poison The activity of snake virus not only causes early convulsions, but gives a more lingering death. The local effects of the to be efficacious in some cases. Their bite are partial paralysis of the bitten action is similar to that of the "madpart; pain, swelling, hemorrhage, and in- stones” used in hydrophobia. flammation.
The bite of a venomous snake in India No observers have better opportuni- is distinguished from any other by two ties of recording data than the Govern- punctures at à certain distance apart, ment Surgeons of India ; and in sixty- with an absence of smaller punctures. five given cases of snake bite recorded This especially applies to the cobra, by them it appeared that the most fatal which is a nocturnal snake with curious periods are between two and three ways. He will live for weeks and months hours. Quite twenty-five per cent of the in captivity without touching food or total deaths take place between one and water, and swim readily. He can go up three hours after the bite; nearly ninety- a tree in search of food. He is found five per cent of the wounds were in ex- everywhere in the Peninsula, even up to tremities; and success depends on pre- a height of 8,000 feet in the Himalayas. venting access to the circulation, and in It is the most dreaded of all snakes, and removing the injured part immediately. is quite worshipped by the natives.
In what may be called pre-scientific When about to strike it raises a third days every known drug, and many quaint of its body, extends the hood, and with a remedies besides, were tried as antidotes loud hissing draws back its head. Next
-ammonia, arsenic, quinine, strychnine, moment, like a lightning flash the head alcohol, various acids, snake poison, and darts forward, and either scratches, bile, charred bones—these, and a hun- seizes, or embeds the fangs. dred other “remedies” were forthcoming. If the fangs of a vigorous cobra be The native Hindoos rely upon magic embedded in a large vein the victim will "snake stones," which certainly appear be dead within 30 minutes. As to the snakes of the snake charmers of India virus is quite equal in deadly effect to who handle the cobra, it is quite errone- that of the cobra. It takes readily to ous to think that these reptiles are innoc- the water. Here is a story told by an uous. True, their fangs have been broken intelligent old Burman: “One day," he or roughly cut out with a coarse knife; says, “I stumbled upon a nest of hamabut a new fang is soon produced, and dryads, and ran for my life. The old neglect of precautions in handling the female gave chase, but I thought I was reptiles may result in dangerous accidents. sa fe when I reached a small river and
Should a charmer be bitten, he places a plunged in. But on reaching the oppotight ligature above the bitten part, and site bank I saw the furious hamadryad applies rough surgery with a knife, hot upreared behind me ready to bury his irons, or live coals. It is only natural deadly fangs in my nearly naked body. that the cobra should be an object of In utter despair I bethought me of my veneration and superstitious awe to the turban, and in an instant plucked it from Hindoos, in whose mythology it takes a my head and dashed it at the serpent, prominent place.
which fell upon it like a flash, and for Many natives refuse to destroy a some moments wreaked its vengeance in cobra, even if they find it in their houses; furious bites, after which, exhausted, it and when one has taken up its abode in slowly disappeared.” a hole in the wall, it is fed, protected and As to the krait, its color is a steel blueconciliated, as though to provoke or in- black to chocolate brown, with narrow jure the reptile would invoke misfortune white cross-streaks, rings, or bars of on both house and family.
white. It is common all over India, and alThe hamadryad is India's biggest ven- though its poison is not so rapid in action omous snake. It is found nearly four- as that of the cobra, it is most deadly. teen feet in length, and worse still is said The white man in India finds this horto be quite aggressive; its gold colored rible creature in his bathroom and veranda; in bookcases and cupboards, and other unexpected places, where it has time when discovered to inflict a fatal bite. One night a lady attached to the Viceregal Court in Calcutta found after a night's journey in a palanquin a huge kraït coiled up under her pillow, having been her travelling companion all night!
The fiercest and most aggressive of all the Indian snakes, however; is the echis, a little brownish gray fellow, only twenty inches long, with keeled scales, which set up friction against one another and give to the angry reptile a peculiar rustling sound. A very fierce and vicious viper is this, constantly throwing itself into offensive attitudes, coiling like a spring, and rustling its carinated scales. It does not wait to be attacked, but advances with wide open mouth and long fangs vibrating. Its virus is most deadly and active, and is responsible for a great number of deaths every year.
The hydrophida, or water snakes, are also extremely poisonous. The hinder DOCTOR AT PATIENT'S SIDE IN RESPONSE TO A part of their body and tail is flattened
"HURRY CALL." almost like the fin or tail of a fish, and with it they swim with ease and rapidity. azure water. These snakes are frequentWith rare exceptions they live in the sea ly taken by the Government Surgeons of or tidal water, and when thrown up on India for experimental purposes. They shore by the surf they are quite help- are made to prove their venomous charless and almost blind. They feed upon acter by biting and rapidly killing a fowl. fish and small aquatic creatures which Scientists are at a loss to conceive of they pursue and overtake in the sea. what use the poison can be to these sea
Every visitor to the Bay of Bengal snakes. · Undoubtedly they kill a great must have watched these agile and beau- many swimmers and fishermen every tiful creatures swimming sinuously in the year, as well as harmless foot passengers
on the sea shore, or careless people who handle them when taken out of nets.
A country so rich in poisonous reptiles is not a cheerful place of residence for civilized people, nor can children be safely reared in it. Quite a common episode is the following, taken from a private letter written by the wife of an indigo planter near Darjeeling to a friend in Chicago:
"I was alarmed the other day by my maid a big cobra was in the drawing room. I snatched up a revolver and ran in, only to see the creature disappearing fast.
rushing into my dressDeadly Krait Just KILLED.
ing room and telling me
"I followed it out into our lovely tropic garden, but it vanished into a hole. I knew unless I could destroy it in some way it would come back into the house. I therefore sent Djala into my bedroom for the handmirror, and with this I cast the sun's rays into the hole, only to see the glistening scales of the most poisonous reptile
Victim OF A REPTILE'S Deadly Bite. on earth.
"I shot into the hole again and gling. Their tenacity of life will be seen again, and presently pulled the cobra when I tell you that on fishing him out I out with a pair of garden shears, found several shot holes in his body, yet simultaneously jerking him into the com- he was still fighting vigorously. One pound I knew that where one cobra is cobra measured 5 feet 7 inches, and the found there would be others. Using the other 6 feet 2 inches. The pair of them mirror again, I saw another reptile wrig- had evidently been living for months