Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spitting Cobras Aim To Kill

Equatorial spitting cobra
looking fierce
Cool, terrifying, whatever you want to call them, spitting cobras are unarguably fascinating. They are a group of cobra species that have the ability to “spit” their venom from their fangs. They are similar to other cobra species, aside from this odd defense mechanism. They have similar eating and mating habits and are also alike in appearance. It's tough to tell the difference, but it's good to avoid cobras whether they prefer to spit or bite, anyway.

There are currently eleven known species of spitting cobras on Earth. Their color, markings and size differ greatly between the species. The difference in size can be several feet. Some spitting cobras are only a few feet long, while the largest spitting cobra ever found was more than nine feet in length. Spitting cobras can be red, brown or black, with or without markings. However, they do have one feature in common; all spitting cobras are hooded, like the king cobra.

An interesting fact about spitting cobras is that they do not actually spit their venom; technically it is sprayed out of their fangs. After the snake uses its muscles to force the venom into its fangs, it uses a burst of air from its lungs to propel the venom out of its mouth. They do this mainly as a way to defend themselves, and they can aim their venom rather accurately when threatened. The venom that is expelled from the snakes fangs can travel up to ten feet.

Most spitting cobras are equipped with hemotoxic and neurotoxic venom. This venom is harmless if it lands on unbroken skin. However, you should be careful not to touch or spread the venom and to wash it off carefully. If the venom enters the blood stream through broken skin, it can be deadly. A spitting cobra will often aim for the eyes, which can be a problem if it hits its target. The venom can cause complete and permanent blindness if it isn’t treated properly.

Spitting cobras are also capable of delivering their venom through a bite. They will typically use this method for prey only, but the bite is dangerous for the unlucky who are on the receiving end. The large brown spitting cobra is particularly dangerous as it can potentially deliver more venom per bite than any other snake species on Earth.

The large brown spitting cobra is the most recent discovery among spitting cobra species. It is also the biggest and most deadly. Its venom is not as toxic as the king cobra, but far more can be delivered in one bite. There may be even more spitting cobras out there, just waiting to be discovered, but it is doubtful that any can deliver as much venom as the large brown.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Animals That Can Literally Shock You

Electric catfish
Every creature on Earth is capable of producing electricity. However, this biologically produced electricity occurs in varying levels and is typically used up to complete biological functions. In other words, it cannot be stored and emitted. That is not the case with a few creatures. Some animals are able to store and emit the electricity produced by their bodies. With these electrical emissions, these animals can shock predators and prey or scare humans away with a jolt that can be mind jarring.

Electric Rays

Electric rays are flattish, roundish saltwater creatures. They are also known as torpedo rays. Electric rays can weigh more than 200 pounds and be up to six feet long.

Electric rays store electricity in two organs. When necessary for hunting and self-defense, the rays deliver a jolt of electricity from these two organs. The most powerful shock they are capable of delivering is about 220 volts. Historically, this jolt of electricity has been used as a pain reliever.

Star Gazers

Star Gazers are fish that can be found around the world. They have interesting facial features. Their eyes are located atop the head and the mouth opening is in front of the eyes, facing up. Inside the mouth is a fleshy appendage used to lure fish into their mouths whilst star gazers hide in the sand.

Like the electric ray, the shock from star gazers comes from electricity-storing organs. However, the shock is slight overkill. Star Gazers hunt in hiding and trick their prey directly into their jaws. There is little reason to deliver a shock, though they may, like other electricity-emitting animals, use it for navigation purposes.

Electric Catfish

Electric catfish are simply catfish that can store and emit electricity. They are found in freshwater in Africa. Like electric eels, electric catfish use their electricity to hunt, defend and navigate.

The electric catfish has a single organ that allows for shocking. The organ is located beneath the skin and envelops nearly the entire fish. When needed, the organ emits up to 350 volts of electricity. This is often followed by several lesser shocks.

Electric Eels

Electric eels are not actually eels. Taxonomically speaking, they are more like carp or catfish. Electric eels live in ponds and streams in South America. The largest specimens are more than 8 feet long.

Electric eels are the most powerful of the electricity-emitting animals. They can deliver a jolt of up to 600 volts. This poses minimal danger to humans, but can exacerbate or create heart problems and has been known to cause drowning. This amazing amount of electricity is stored in roughly 6,000 cells in the electric eel's body.

Many other animals emit electricity. However, most of them give off weak levels of electricity compared to the above shockers. While they pose little danger to humans, children and people with heart conditions should avoid these animals, lest they be mistaken for predators.