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More venomous lizards than we thought!

Discussion in 'Herp Awareness' started by furryscaly, Nov 16, 2005.

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  1. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    LEIDEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - More lizard families than previously believed are venomous, including several species that are popular pets, scientists said on Wednesday.

    Until now, pain and swelling from lizard bites assumed to be non-venomous were attributed to the bacteria that thrive on bits of meat left between their teeth from their scavenging diet.

    However, the symptoms are actually from the venom, a finding which could have implications for medical research, said Dr. Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne, lead author of the research published online by the science journal Nature.

    "The venom is the perfect knock-out punch by monitor lizards to their prey like small mammals and lizards," he told Reuters. It stops blood clotting, rapidly drops blood pressure and heightens the feeling of bite pain.

    His team of international scientists isolated crotamine -- the classic venom of rattlesnakes whose bite can be fatal to humans -- in the eastern bearded dragon, a popular pet.

    However, the bearded dragon's delivery system is primitive and it is present in such small amounts it would not harm a human.

    Fry said Indonesia's Komodo dragon -- the world's largest lizard, weighing up to 350 lbs (160 kg) -- was also venomous.


    It had previously been thought that only two families of reptiles were known to have venom systems -- advanced snakes and Helodermatid lizards.

    This study demonstrates there are venom toxins in two more lizard families: monitor lizards, such as the Komodo dragon, and iguania such as the bearded dragon and green iguana, but their toxin secreting glands are smaller than those of snakes.

    The study effectively doubles the number of potentially venomous reptile species to 4,600 from 2,300.

    "There are so many more reptiles with venom now than we previously thought. That fact itself has massive implications for a vast array of areas, whether it be evolution, drug design and development or ecology," Fry said.

    Snake toxins are already widely used in medicines to treat epilepsy, haemophilia and thrombosis. The new lizard venom toxins and their molecules present a huge unexplored resource for drug design and development, according to the researchers.

    "Milking the big monitors was quite simple, just gently squeezing the glands would result in 40-50 milligrams (dry weight) of liquid venom pooling at the base of the teeth," Fry said.

    This means a big Komodo dragon could have more than 200 milligrams ready to delivery at any time, he said.

    Fry was anxious that lizard owners should not be unduly concerned by the findings.

    "If you're dinner then the venom plays a role, but if you're human it's most likely just to make your hand throb. We don't want people to suddenly be afraid of their pets," he said.

    "Nor do we want any silly laws being passed against the keeping of these lizards."
  2. actionplant

    actionplant Elite Member



    SHHHHHHHHH! Don't tell anyone. People are stupid, remember?

    (Recalls recent legislation in home state banning keeping any venomous animal, including native garter snakes.)
  3. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    Greaaatttt! I have a hard enough time getting my dad to let me keep lizards, now he'll use this as another reason to try to get rid of some ;)
  4. Fran

    Fran Veteran Member

    I read notheeeng! But Ill save Marsha from the pain. She can send me all the beardies.:D
  5. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    Ohhh! Does this mean that all of those people who brag about having "hots" are no cooler than me with my venomous beardie? I still don't think they'll accept me...haha...

    Them: "I keep cobras"
    Me: "Yeah I have a bearded dragon, his venom can irritate your skin!"
    Them:"'re hardcore..."
  6. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    LMAO, Moshpitrockchick!! :)

    VERY interesting article, Matt; cool stuff. But I agree 100% with Actionplant... SHHhhhh!!!
  7. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    lol - that's a good conversation to have MPRC!! :) That was very good to read Matt. As some of you may know, we are having major prbolems in the UK at the moment with the RSPCA and DEFRA trying to ban the keeping off exotic pets so I too totally agree with Actionplant that this news is definitely best kept quiet lol (lets not give them the fuel they need to burn their fires!!)
  8. LdyDrgn

    LdyDrgn Member

  9. venus

    venus Founding Member

    In agreement with Andrea and Actionplanet. do you expect me to sell these adorable little babies with this discovery :D.

    Fran...if you behave, I might send you one. ;)
  10. Fran

    Fran Veteran Member

    I'm in for it now.:eek: Do you know what's going to happen when Becca reads this thread?:confused: I'll just have to tell her that Fran NEVER behaves.:D Last night she was ooohing and aaahing as I was checking out your youngsters.
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Aw, c'mon now Marsha! You're in TEXAS!
    If you market them as "Deadly Poisonous Bearded Dragons" you will be over run with "Bubbas" before you know it!:p ;)
  12. jmherp

    jmherp Elite Member

    lol merlin... This is truely an amazing discovery matt, but i guarantee its something that my wife will NOT be finding out any time soon, lol.
  13. Jaded

    Jaded Member

    I wonder if this bring about a new Dinosaur theory. The T-rex, stubby arms, venomous bite.

    And why the **** do Iguanas have it? Mating? Territorial skirmishes? Make sure that pesky lettuce doesn't get away?
  14. kremlinator

    kremlinator Banned User

    I say look at the teeth! There is a HUGE correlation between grooves on the teeth and venom injection...for example, if they have the grooves, they are venomous. Another good way, if you have a dead citter on your hands, is to look for a little something we call a "venom gland" usually found leading up to the teeth with grooves for the said venom delivery.

    FYI: Tyrannosaurus had a bite 10 times stronger than a crocodile, maybe more. Why would it need any kind of venom? Not to mention there is no place for the gland in the skull, as well as no grooves in the teeth (One of the teachers at my university is the leading scientist in the world on Tyrannosaurs).

    Upon skimming the article I neglected to mention that the only lizards mentioned specifically were monitors which, as I'm sure everyone here already knows, have bacteria in the saliva from eating rancid meat that cause the wounded animals to go into septic shock in short order. Kind of like venom. Also, I'd like to see more than circumstantial swelling on this; something like functional morphology, venom effects such as bruising, gangrene (from tissue death) or that feeling of wanting to die (or at least feeling like you have the flu) right after a bite.

    Sorry to burst your bubble ;)
  15. KrokadilyanGuy3

    KrokadilyanGuy3 Elite Member

    I'm glad I'm not the only skeptic out there.
  16. grim

    grim Elite Member

    If im hearing this right... my nile monitor is venomous? I just let him bite me yesterday .. and he broke the skin... Good thing he's a baby.
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