Venomous snakes belonging to the family Viperidae, Elapidae, Colubridae and Hydrophidae, produces snake venom in order to facilitate immobilization and digestion of prey, act as defense mechanism against threats. Venom contains zootoxins which is a highly modified saliva that is either injected via fangs during a bite or spitted. The modified parotid gland, encapsulated in a muscular sheath, present on each side of the head, below and behind the eye, have large alveoli which temporarily stores the secreted venom and later conveyed by a duct to tubular fangs through which venom is injected. Venoms are complex mixtures of more than 20 different compounds, mostly proteins and polypeptides, including proteins, enzymes and substances with lethal toxicity which are either neurotoxic or haemotoxic in action and exert effects on nervous/muscular impulses and blood components. Lots of research are directed to use venoms as important pharmacological molecules for treating various diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease etc.
Part of the book: Snake Venom and Ecology