Soon, anti-venom may be developed pecific to a snake's location and diet after a study revealed that, what a snake eats affects the potency of its poison.
Axel Barlow, a Bangor university student, says that his finding is particularly based on his studies into saw-scaled vipers, which have evolved to eat scorpions.
AdvertisementHe has found that such snakes have venom that was more lethal to scorpions.
He hopes that his discovery may help reduce the incidences of deaths due to snakebites.
Barlow points out that variation in venom composition between different species or populations of snakes can complicate anti-venom treatment.
He also underscores the fact that African hospitals still rely on imported anti-venom from Asia, where the saw-scaled vipers have a very different venom composition.
"Saw-scaled vipers provide a good model to study venom variation as different species have extremely different diets," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"This allows us to investigate the effects of evolutionary changes in diet within a single group of related snake species," he added.
Dr. Wolfgang Wüster, an expert in snakes and snake venoms who lectures at Bangor, added: "This study provides one of the most convincing pieces of evidence to date for the role of natural selection for diet in shaping snake venom composition. It is a key question in our understanding of venom evolution in snakes."