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Cobra snake
Cobra Snake

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Although most snakes have teeth, four rows on the top and two on the bottom, not all snakes have fangs. Only the poisonous ones do.

Fangs are sharp, long, hollow or grooved teeth that are connected to a small sac in the snake’s head behind its eyes.  These sacs produce a poisonous liquid called venom.  When a snake bites, venom is released and starts to work immediately to kill or paralyze the prey.  For some snakes with really long fangs, the fangs will fold back into the mouth so they don’t bite themselves!  When a snake loses or breaks a fang it will grow another.

Since the poison will work almost immediately, some snakes will hold onto the animal, which is unlucky enough to be in its mouth, until it stops struggling and the snake can start to swallow it.  Other snakes will bite and then release the animal so that it does not get hurt when the animal struggles and slowly dies.  These snakes will use their flicking tongue to smell and follow the victim until it dies and can be eaten.

Sea snakes are thought to be the most poisonous of all snakes.  Other poisonous snakes include Adders, Cottonmouths, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads and Cobras.  Spitting Cobras can spit venom up to 6 feet away! Yuk!

In many countries, venomous snakes are caught and their venom is “milked” from their fangs by squeezing the venom sac and forcing the release of the poison.  This venom is then used to create a medicine called antivenom (or antivenin) that is used to save the lives of people bitten by snakes.  Snakes will keep producing more venom for as long as they live.