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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 01-02-2024, 09:22 PM   #1
Martin Nowak
Higher environment temperature = more venomous snakebites

An interesting bit of research. The importance of publications like this is that Game and Fish Commissions, regulatory bodies, and even academia will use the results to advance their own biases. Herpers really need to watch for these issues and be able to defend captive ownership and protection of the hobby and industry. To think about the various ramifications, consider the following somewhat lengthy discussion (apology). Below I consider two broad areas related to the paper: 1. The study’s methods, definitions, and results; and 2. Conflicting information from Georgia sources and the publication concerning the number of venomous snake species in Georgia. Reader’s opinions are requested and appreciated.

First link from the Sun is a reporter’s “interpretation” of the research. I thought the reporter’s story suspect and found the actual research (second link - Source). While the research concerns itself with envenomation during 7 years in Georgia; other global information is also provided.

Sun TCD December 31, 2023
“Researchers point to surprising cause behind uptick in snake bites: ‘Influences how active they are’ “

“The Association Between Ambient Temperature and Snakebite in Georgia” July 11, 2023

Certain “researcher comments” may differ somewhat from experienced herper thinking but such can be accepted in my estimation. For example:
“We note that visits for non-venomous snakebites may reflect only more severe bites or bites where the type of snake was unknown, whereas most venomous snakebites are likely to result in a hospital visit.”
I have been sutured several times for boidae bites and twice had surgery to remove large python teeth stuck in tissue and bone. I would not classify any of these bites as “severe” – just hazards of the trade. And I’ve paid dues with a painful C. atrox bite in west Texas which I did class as severe. However, a homeowner likely views a harmless snakebite scratch as severe.
Then there is the notion by perhaps many physicians that most venomous snakebites are dry bites (yet another discussion). Is it therefore logical that “most venomous snakebites are likely to result in a hospital visit.”? Most people can’t recognize venomous from non-venomous and if, as alleged, most are dry bites in any event – why a hospital visit? I suppose this sliver can be ignored.

The authors created a category of bites termed “non-snake envenomation” which they define as: “e.g., other reptiles, scorpions, arachnids, other arthropods, venomous fish, marine animals, venomous plants etc.” Any readers have notions of what might be a “non-snake - other reptile” envenomation in Georgia?

The summary of ED visits for snakebite in Georgia is:
“There were 5,094 ED visits for snakebite in Georgia during the 7-year study period, of which approximately 77% (3,908) were venomous (Table 2). Visits for non-snake envenomation (n = 65,187) were an order of magnitude more common.”
Because of the way medical claims are coded and used for this research, the study does not illuminate if the bite required antivenom or other treatment. The same can be said for non-venomous snakebite and non-snake envenomation. Other literature will corroborate that most of the non-snake envenomation are from Hymenoptera – mostly invasive honey bees and various wasps. However, the ratio of snake vs non-snake envenomation is remarkable and matches national data. Let’s further put together the information.
Nationally, “An estimated 1.17 million people visited EDs for non-canine bite and sting injuries annually.” National Institutes of Health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32358618/
Nationally, “There are approximately 10,000 emergency department visits in the United States for snakebites every year, and one-third of those involve venomous species.”
National Institutes of Health. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3013...%20subfamilies.

Only 10,000 of 1.17 million annual visits for “animal envenomation” are attributed to snakes.

And the cost – often referred to as “societal burden”: “The estimated annual total lifetime medical and work cost of unintentional non-canine injuries was $5,755,581,000.”

Venomous plus non-venomous snakebite burden to society in terms of treatment costs are almost negligible compared the costs of treating envenomation by non-snake animals.

Deaths from invasive honey bees are generally “accepted” since these are classed as agriculture and domestic animals. They also provide jobs and a chain of revenue. In my opinion, many if not all captive reptiles (especially cbb) should be classed as domestic animals. Such would likely add some benefit to the hobby and industry.

Still, I think this a reasonable study of available data and the authors provide a fair list of limitations to the study and other confounding variables.

The second concern is the study notes “7 venomous snake species in Georgia”. This would be correct in my estimation. However, most sources indicate only 6 venomous snake species in the state. Now most of us would say, “not a big deal” – and rightly so since the 6 to 7 counts the two cottonmouth species. The issue is that the public is easily confused when it comes to snakes – and thus the herper industry and hobby is burdened by public fear and false information. Even Georgia Wildlife Resources Division has multiple conflicting numbers as are (in part) shown below.

The End.

Confusion over how many venomous species in Georgia:

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (2019)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia
(Cottonmouth noted in singular term)

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (Date ?)
Seven (7) venomous species in Georgia
(Northern plus Florida cottonmouth)

Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (Date ?)
Facebook and YouTube Instructional Video
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia

Georgia Poison Center (Current - January 2024)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia

University of Georgia – Herpetology Center (Date ?)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia

The Augusta Chronicle. (2022)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia

WSAV NBC (2023)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia

WSB-TV Atlanta (2023)
Six (6) venomous species in Georgia
Old 01-22-2024, 12:06 PM   #2
The price for Liberty .... The INDIVIDUAL being fully RESPONSIBLE for his/her ACTIONS....Keep oversized , bloated government from interfering in our lives!

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