THE POISON OF SNAKES.?EY J. FATHER.
The first Cobra was
ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS. ?
EXPERIMENTS ON THE POISON OF SNAKES. By J. Fayree, M.D.
August 6th, 1868.?At 12-13 p.m. a Cobra was bitten in two places, about six inches from the head, where the scales had been previously scraped off, and in the mouth, by a very large and powerful light-colored spectacled cobra, 5 feet 6 inches in length. The bitten snake was theu put into a separate box with a wire gauze front, for observation. There could be no doubt in this case that the bites were severe, and that the poison was inoculated At 2-30, when I left, the snake seemed to be unaf-
the bitten Cobra does
about 50 hours
afterwards, this snake
At 9 p.m. Mr. Sceva not seem to be much affected. 2-30 p.m., 8th
bitten in the thigh by
still seemed well. Experiment No. 3,
At 12-27 p.m., 6th August,
an innocuous snake, Dendrophis, long and delicate, beautifully marked with red spots along the spine, was bitten by the same Cobra, about the middle of the
grain, were injected with a hypodermic syringa thigh. 12-39.?Tetanic twitchings of the limbs commenced, and gradually continued, becoming more intense, till, at 12-42, tho animal was in a state of general tetanic spasm of all the muscles of the body. The ears were erected, the pupils dilated to excess, the body rigid, and the limbs extended in an intense state of
tetanic convulsion. 12-43.?Dead. Spasm relaxed just before death.
sluggish. vigorously a3 it did. 12-53.?Sluggish, but, apparently, very slightly affected. The Cobra is apparently partially exhausted, as it had been made to bite two other snakes in two places, and in this forced biting much of the poison is lost. 12-54.?Bitten again, near the same spot, by a fresh and large black Cobra. It soon became very sluggish, but made no convulsive movements. It simply seemed to become paralyzed, and dead at 1-8 p.m. Death occurred in 14 minutes after the bite, in 41 minutes after the first bite. The effect of the poison on the harmless snakes seems, from this experiment, to be was
comparatively feeble and slow. The bitten snake was small and delicate, the Cobra was fresh and very powerful, and at least feet long. Experiment
snake,) about 3| feet long, was bitten large, light-coloured Cobra, in the middle
the first mentioned of its body, at 12-28 p.m.
12-52.?Slightly affected, rather sluggish; but it is combative, and attacks if approached. At 12-55 it was bitten again by the large black Cobra mentioned in Experiment No. 3. It rapidly became
apparently nearly dead. At 1-4 dead. This experiment, like No. 3, shews the effect of the Cobra poison on the innocuous snake. The Dryophia died in niue aiuutes after the second bite, in 30 minute3 after the first bite. 1-3 p.m.
minutes, and was duo nor opportunity for the snake-poison.
death occurred in six
In this case
bitten in the
A pariah dog thigh by a powerful and fresh black Cobra, at 12-45. Immediately afterwards, about 15 drop3 of the strychnia solution were injected with the hypodermic was
into the same
thigh. leg partially paralyzed, and dragged. The dog ran across the room, the legs twitching violently. At 12-47 it fell over in a state of rigid tetanic spasm. 12-48.?Every muscle in the body in a state of rigid spasm. But it was remarked that the bitten leg was not so much affe. ted syringe
spasm as the other
poison, apparently, so far counteracts the 12-50.?Spasm relaxed.
action of the snake-
action of the strychnia.
not try to make its escape so
Experiment No. 6.
August.?A Bungarus Fasciatus, nearly full-grown, was bittea by the same Cobra at 12-22 p.m., at about eight inches from the head. The snake was bitten twice; the Cobra took firm hold, and implanted the fangs deeply. At 2-30, when I left, there was no change; the Bungarus eeemed unaffected. The Bungarus died at 7-30 p.m. of the 7th, about 29 hours after being bitten. At 1 p.m. of the 7th, he
into the same
any manifestation of the effects of
black Cobra, at 12-37 p.m. Immediately afterwards, about 20 drops of a solution of strychnia, (of the strength of gr. i to 3i,)
Experiment No. 2.
The second was fresh
Experiment No. 5. A
and Mr. Seeva.
Experiment No< 1.
vigorous, having only once bitten the Dendrophis. I believe that, had it bitten a warm-blooded animal, of at>out tho same strength as the Dendrophis, death would have occurred more quickly. The Dryophis was twice the size of the Dendrophis, and, although it was bitten after it, died in a much shorter time. It was either more susceptible, or more deeply bitten. and
Present: Dr. Fayrer, Dr. F. Stoliczka and Mr. V. Ball, Curators cf the Indian.
from tetanus, in six minutes.
Experiment No. 7. A full-grown male cat was bitten in the thigh, at 1-20 p.m., by a Daboia Russelli, about two-thirds grown, and, apparently, quite fresh and vigorous. Ten drops of a solutiou of strychnia, of the strength of gr. 1 to 5i, that is, ?th of a grain, were
injected at 1-23
1-24.?The bitten leg is partially paralyzed.
1-25.?Spasmodic twitchings began. j_26.?Stretched out in a violent tetanic
The cat lies
1?27.?Spasm relaxed. Dead. In this case the strychnia seemed rather to accelerate death than to improve the animal's condition. The action of the snake-poison had clearly commenced, but it was ut once obscured by the symptoms of poisoning
by strychnia, The
and the cat died in was
antidote to Bnake-.-ciao;:,
These experiments do not support this theory. Experiment No. 8. was bitten by a frjah and at 12-53 p.m., about eight inches rori ths Cobra, powerful head, the scales having been previously scraped olif ,0 ensure the penetration of the Cobra's fangs. Bittea also in tus'^onU, at 12-54, by the same Cobia. At 1-8 p.m. still active.
large Dhamin (Ptyas Mucosus)
THE INDIAN MEDICAL GAZETTE.
194 1-10.?Appears slightly sluggish. 1-30.?The
At 2-30, when I left, it was in the same state. On the 8th August I learnt that the Ptyas died at 3-20 p.m., rather less than 23 hours after being bitten. It appeared to
have partially recovered from its lethargy during the day, but relapsed and died; as it had been in the cage for some time, and was well and active, there can bo no doubt, I think, that its
due to the Cobra bite.
Experiment No. 9. and
powerful Cobra, the same that bit in experi4, had about 25 drops of the solution of strychnia (gr. i to 5i) injected into the anterior part of its body on the ventral aspect, at 1 p.m. At 1-2 p.m. muscular twitchings began. The hood seemed to be shrivelled up and contracted. The head was erect, and A very ments 1,
1-6.?Continues in the
same state, rigid as stone. 1-10.?Spasm relaxing; twitchings generally throughout the body and the head. 1-12.?The only sign of life, an occasional twitch. Dead. 1-14.?Spasm relaxed.
Experiment No. 10.
Cobra, about 4 feet long, was injected with 15 drops of Cobra poison, partly taken from another Cobra, partly from itself, at 1-56 p.m., at about 4 inches from the head. At 1-58, twitching of head and ncck when erect. Ilood began to shrivel. At 1-59, twisted itself up into a rigid scries of coils, like a A
snake cast iu metal, in which state I lifted it up and rolled it on the floor.
It remained in this condition, the head twitching. At 2-25 the coils M'ere unfolded, and it was quite dead. The symptoms of poisoning here were more those of strychnia
snake-poison ; and I cannot help thinking that such may possibly have been the fact. The same hypodermic syringe was used as in the other experiments, but, as it had been most carefully washed several times before the experiment, it is difficult to than
conceive how such can have been the case, unless a very small quantity had been left imbibed by the packing of the piston. As the result was so different to that of other inoculations of Cobras by Cobra poison, I cannot help suspecting this may have been the case, and it is sufficient to throw a doubt on the validity of the experiment. It would, however, prove the extreme of the snake to the action of
Experiment No. 11.
large Cobra had about 15 drops of- his own poison injected with the hypodermic syringe, about 8 inches from the head. The needle was inserted in the ventral surface, and it is probable the lung may have been penetrated. At 2-5 p.m. the snake was moving about, apparently At 2 p.m.,
unaffected. was thought to appear rather sluggish. 2-30.?'Apparently as vigorous as ever. At 9 p.m. it was reported by Mr. Sceva that the Cobra was very sluggish, and likely to die. At 12-30, 8th August, the Cobra still alive, and apparently not affected; nearly two days after the experiment.
Experiment No- 12. At 2 p.m.,
large Cobra had about
drops of poison, partly
his own, partly from another Cobra, injected about 8 inclics from the head. No effect was apparent when I left at 2-30 p.m. But at 9 p.m. of the same date, Mr. Sceva reported that it died at 7-40 p.m. It became more and more sluggish and until it was quite dead, but there was no convulsive
movement and tetanic spasm. It appears probable, to say the least of it, that death in this case was caused by the poison. It is possible that the needle may have penetrated the lung, or some large internal vessel, and that it caused death either by haemorrhage or embolism. I had not an opportunity of examining the snake after death, and I
cannot, therefore, regard the experiment as conclusive. The .Cobras used in these experiments were remarkably large
Fayrer, Dr. J. Ewart, Professor of Physiology, Sceva, of the Indian Museum.
folds formed in its skin.
At 1-4 p.m., in a state of violent tetanic spasm. The body set in short waves, as though it had been petrified in that condition, and the whole curved rigi'lly to one side.
Experiment No. 13.
August 8th, 1868.?A full-grown Cobra had about 25 drops of fresh Cobra poison, taken from another snake immediately before the experiment was performed, injected by means of the hypodermic syringe into the body, at about 8 inches from the head. At 12-oQ the snake appeared unaffected in strength and activity, striking at anything that approached it ; but it voided a large quantity of light brown fluid per anum. On the 12th August it was still quite well. At 2-30, when I left, it was as well as ever. Experiment No. 14. A
bitten in the
Russclli at 1 p.m. It fell over in violent convulsions,
placed on the completely dead. snake-poison I have yet seen. as
in less than 90 seconds it was
This is the most
Experiment No. 15. About half a
difficulty obtained from fangs, do
the same Daboia. These
with their long mobile
not shed their
or spoon covered with a This very small quantity of means of the hypodermic syringe, a
do the Cobras.
injected, by thigh of a half-grown fowl. At 12-2 p.m., when placed on the ground, it walked a few steps, as though nothing had happened. In about 80 seconds it suddenly fell backwards, and rolled over in violent convulsions. At 12-4-10, that is, in 130 seconds, it was dead. These two experiments shew the terribly deadly nature of the Daboia's poison, and also the difference of into the
its mode of action from that of the Cobra. In the one case death being preceded by violent convulsions, in the other by
paralysis and lethargy. The quantity of the poison
inoculated must have
very small in both cases; for the snake did not imbed his fangs or shed a very large amount of poison; and in the second experiment, where the quantity was certainly not more than
drop, part of that must have been absorbed by the padding of the piston, and a small part lost by adhering to the syringe, or by escape, owing to the piston not being absolutely air-tight. It is also worthy of notice that this is the same snake that has been used in former experiments, and that it has half a
cage now for some weeks. It appears that it and eaten some small frogs lately.
Experiment No. 16.
drop of poison, taken from a spectacled Cobra, injsctcd, at 1-14 p.m., by means of the hypodermic syringe, a fowl's thigh. One
THE POISON OP SNAKES.?BY J. FAYKER.
In half a minute it "was affected with muscular twitchings and In fifty seconds it was walking about with that leg partially paralyzed. At 1-16 it was pecking at the punctured part; tremor; the anterior 12 inches of the snake affected with parawings drooping. At 1-19 it sat down, head hanging, and sup- lysis agitans. Vermicular movements throughout the body. porting itself with the point of the beak resting on the ground, 2-12.?Universal paralysis. growing gradually more comatose, and generally paralyzed. 2-14.?Dead. At 1-22 in the same state. One drop of the strychnia soluThe snake is evidently very susceptible to this poison, as it tion, about oXdth of a grain, was injected into the thigh. At 1-23J is to the strychnia. No warm-blooded animal could be more also it appeared When thrown from the hands to the quite paralyzed. ground, the wings involuntarily performed the movements of so. This, I tbink, seems to shew that, apart from any imflying, and it alighted gently, but lay there perfectly motionless. munity peculiar to the reptilian circulation, it has a special toleration of the poison of its own species; for it certainly is At 1-25 tetanic twitchings of muscular system were apparent. not easily, if at all, affected by it, as the majority of the experiAt 1-26 general muscular quivering, and slight spasmodic ments hitherto performed tend to shew that neither by inoculaextension of the legs. At 1-27J dead. The contents of the cloaca were evacuated just before death. The action of the tion of the poison by the syringe, nor by biting, is any deadly strychnia was apparent, but it did not in any way seem to effect produced. In my last report, in alluding to the poison fangs of different ameliorate the condition induced by the Cobra poison. The fowl was larger and stronger than those in the preceding snakes, I described them simply as they appear, and not according experiments, and a full drop of poison was injected. Death to their development. But as this may be misunderstood, I did not occur for 13 j minutes, and the symptoms differed would here remark that, thoug different in form and size, they from those in the birds poisoned by the Daboia, whose more are all developed on, and are modifications of, the same plan. The fang is a long tooth, consisting of dentine and pulp. This i3 rapid death was preceded by violent convulsions. folded on itself, and thus forms the poison duct, constituting a Experiment No. 17.
large pale-colored Ccbra had 10 or 12 drops of freshly extracted Cobra poison injected into the anterior ventral aspect of the body, about 8 inches from the head, at 1-43 p.m. At 2-30 the snake seemed unaffected. On the 12th August, at 5 p.ni, the snake remained perfectly well. Experiment No. 18. A large pale-colored Cobra had ten drops, equal to ?th of a grain, of a solution of strychnia injected into the anterior part of its body, near the head, at 1-50 p.m. At 10-52 tetanic twitchings commenced. At 10-53 it became rigidly fixed in undulating The curves, with a general lateral curve of its entire length.
hood completely shrivelled up, and the head twisted to one 6ide. In this spastic condition the snake was as rigid as a bar of wood. minutes after the "strychnia had been injected, the Cobra In was quite dead ; muscular twitchings had passed away just before
death; rigidity remained for a short time after it. The snake, notwithstanding its cold blood, is very susceptible to the poisonous effects of strychnia. The object of the experiment was not only to test the action of strychnia on the snake, but also to shew that the method of injecting the poison was an effective one, and that as the snake-poison Was injected in precisely the same way, failure in its action could not be attributed to the mode of administration. Experiment No. 19. At 2-6 p.m. a full-grown Cobra had six under the skin with the
drops of fresh Cobra hypodermic syringe,
about 8 inehea from the head.
Seven minutes after voided a quantity of dark-colored fluid from' the cloaca. 2-30.?Unaffected. On the 12th, at 5 p.m., still quite well. In these three experiments, 13,17, 19, the Cobra poison, though fresh and thoroughly well injected into the Cobra, had no effect. Four
unaffected. I am, however, still not satisfied that the Cobra may not be poisoned to deatli by the venom of its own species, and sliail make further experiments before recording any decided
opinion. Experiment No. 20.
Ten of the
of carbolic acid were
from the head.
injected, at 2-9 p.m., by means Cobra, at about 8 or 10 inches
The canal thus formed lies
the convex side
fang, which is recurved, and is in front of the pulp. The poison canal is, in fact, enclosed in a circular canal of dentine, the fibres of which are arranged vertically around of the
the duct. This inflection or involution is more or less
to the age of the tooth, or according to the genus of the snake. In some, as in the IIydrophida3, the inflection is never completed, and the canal remains an open groove. In the Elapidte, as in the Naja and Bungarus?the involution is sufficient to close the canal, but the vertical line of as
well as the triangular opening at the base, and that of exit near the apex, can be seen: whilst in the Yiperiuse and Crotalidoe the involution is so complete, that the tooth presents the appearance of a perforated tube, and the inflection or involution of the margins is not seen. These poison fangs, which are connected with the maxillary
bones, are anchvlosed to them when they are in working order. The supplementary fangs, of which there is always a good supply in different stages of growth, are loose, and lie covered by the fold of mucous membrane and gum which envelopes the poison fangs, and protects them when not in use. A second, or even third,fang may be anchylosed with the principal one to the maxillary bone ; and I have before me a skull of a Daboia, for which I am indebted to Mr. Sceva, in which this is the case; and where there are five well developed poison fangs on each side, of which The on one side two are anchylosed to the maxillary bone. muscular apparatus by which the fangs are moved, the jaws opened, and the poison gland made to shed its contents through the hollowed tooth, are very complex and beautiful. I hope, on a future occasion, to give some account of this, as well as of the osseous details concerned in the movements by which the deadly wound is inflicted.