Venemous Fang of the Horned Viper - Vipera ammodytes
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Venomous Fang of the Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes)

Vipera ammodytes

Magnification: 29:1

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Hand-colored scanning electron micrograph of the venomous fangs of a Horned Viper (Vipera ammodytes), by Martin Oeggerli.

This is likely the most dangerous snake to be found in Europe, due to its large size, long fangs (up to 13 mm) and high venom toxicity. Humans respond rapidly to this venom, as do mice and birds. Lizards are less affected. However, this species is generally not aggressive, and tends not to bite without considerable provocation.

Like all pit vipers, the Horned viper is a solenoglyph snake, equipped with a pair of tubular erectile fangs. In solenoglyph snakes, the venom is delivered through a channel located inside the tooth. The venom can be quite toxic, and has both proteolytic and neurotoxic components, containing hemotoxins with blood coagulant properties, similar to and as powerful as in crotaline venom. Other properties include anticoagulant effects, hemoconcentration and hemorrhage. Bites promote symptoms typical of viperid envenomation, such as pain, swelling and discoloration, all of which may be immediate. There are also reports of dizziness and tingling. V. ammodytes venom is used in the production of antivenin for the bite of other European vipers and the snake is farmed for this purpose.