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A few days ago, on a quiet farm in southern China, a snake breeder by the name of Mr. Huang – discovered the most amazing baby Chinese Cobra you have ever seen. It’s something you’d expect to see on a mutant TV show or in a movie like X-Men, but this is for real. Mr. Huang discovered a Chinese Cobra with two heads! And the two heads are even fighting with each other, moving in opposite directions and even trying to swallow each other!

Similarly to siamese twins, both heads of this baby Chinese Cobra have two separate brains, what allows them to move independently. These types of mutant snakes usually do not survive for long. However, according to the latest update from China – the baby Chinese Cobra is still alive and growing and even changed its skin once, but – neither of the two heads have been eating or drinking.

The mind-boggling mutant Cobra, whose second head begins approximately three quarters up the snake’s body, has been handed over several days ago to the care of experts at the Nanning Zoo in Guanxi, China. Their mission is to make sure the venomous two-headed Chinese Cobra survives and lives longer. However, it’s quite a long shot, and as one of the zookeepers at Nanning Zoo already told the press, “there was no way of telling whether the Chinese cobra will survive”.

Watch a news-recap of the story:

The condition of having two heads, or more, is called Polycephaly, and is actually quite common among snakes. There are quite a lot of occurrences of multi-headed animals, both in reality and of course in mythology. For example, in Heraldry and Vexillology, the double-headed eagle is a revered symbol, although no such animal has ever known to existed.

When it comes to snakes, most polycephalic snakes tend to have a short lifespan of a few months, although there is a report of a two-headed Rat-snake that has lived for 20 years.

Let us hope and pray that the baby Chinese cobra gets at least the same…

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The Taipan Snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world. The Australian Venom Research Unit even ranks it as the world’s most venomous. Its venom is fifty times more toxic and thus deadlier than that of the Indian cobra, and one single drop of it can kill 100 men. If you are a snake enthusiast, then you may know that a bite of the Indian cobra can be fatal and then you should imagine what a bite of the Taipan can do to you. Considering that, do you really wish to try catching a Taipan snake?

If you do wish to go ahead with your plan of catching a Taipan snake, then you have some good news as well. Despite its venom and its two to three meters length, the snake is a recluse. It may lurch around but it usually doesn’t bite. It is not an aggressive predator when it comes to humans. A Taipan is likely to remain in its own world and not bother you much, unless you meddle with it, or try to catch it!

Almost all cases of Taipan bites have been reported amongst herpetologists or those who tried to catch it or hold it up. In 2012, a 57-year-old Australian who was working in dense bushland near Yeppoon, 430 miles north of Brisbane, died from a Taipan bite. However, in other cases of Taipan bites – the timely administration of the anti-venom had saved all who had been reportedly bitten by a Taipan snake, including a twelve year old boy in Australia who had incidentally caught one and held it around his neck and was heading to his granddad’s house to show the snake. The boy had also chopped off the head of the snake after being bitten.

Taipan Snake
The Taipan Snake: Is this No. 1? Photo: Matthijs Kuipers
Here’s a brief guide to catching a Taipan snake.
  • First, you have to be in the region where Taipans thrive. That would be central or eastern Australia. The state of Queensland and its inland regions are a good place to start with. You may also hit the suburban Brisbane areas or a little up northward along the coast. There are two types of Taipans, inland Taipan and coastal Taipan. You will find both the variants in this region.
  • You need a strategy for catching a Taipan snake. The easiest is to lay a trap after spotting a Taipan. The trap could be the traditional nets or you could contaminate its food, thus drugging the snake when it eats its prey and then you can easily catch it and take it into captivity. But beware of the rigid laws in Australia that prevent you from meddling with species that are endangered and are at the brink of extinction. A Taipan usually eats lizards, rats and bandicoots. You can use these small animals and contaminate them with some drug that would render the Taipan unconscious after its meal. Control the dosage of the drug or poison so you don’t kill the Taipan in the process of catching it.
  • Last but not least – we urge you not to do all of the above. Do NOT attempt to catch a Taipan Snake. It’s dangerous for you, and for the amazing Taipan.

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When it comes to speed, there will always several contenders and various opinions, but in the case of the Fastest Snake in the world, most experts agree. It’s the notorious Black Mamba. Known as the longest venomous snake in Africa and the second-longest venomous snake on the planet, this deadly snake also holds the Speed Title under his belt. Regarded as the fastest snake in the world, it can move at 17.6 feet (5.4 meters) per second and reach amazing speeds of 12 mph (19 KmH)!

This graceful snake can move extremely fast and with astounding agility. However, it can only maintain these high speeds for short distances, and there’s little truth in stories of Black Mambas moving faster than a galloping horse. In many cases when Black Mambas are sighted, their elongated slender body will sometimes creates the impression that it is moving much faster than it really is.

However, the Black Mamba is not only the fastest snake in terms of moving, it is also regarded as one of the fastest striking snakes in the world. This secretive snake will usually avoid danger whenever it can, and when confronted, the Black Mamba will sometimes spread its neck-flap like a Cobra, and expose its terrifying black mouth. However, further enticement by any enemy whatsoever will lead to a series of super-fast and deadly strikes. Thanks to its size, the Black Mamba can raise its head well above ground and might throw a big portion of its body upwards. This provides the snake with a great attacking range, even reaching a standing man’s chest.

fastest snake
Black Mamba. Photo by cd123

Many scientists believe the Black Mamba possesses the most highly evolved venom delivery apparatus in the world, regarded as one of the fast-acting venoms among venomous snakes. Experiments showed how its venom could kill a mouse in only 4.5 minutes. There are also two known cases of Black Mambas killing people in less than 20 minutes!

There’s no wonder why the Black Mamba is regarded as the most feared snake in Africa, where its bite is known as the “Kiss of death”. The Black Mamba’s extraordinary speed, combined with its fast-striking venom, make it one of the world’s most deadly snakes.

In 2011, a group of researchers from Macquarie University discovered that the Great Desert Skink lizard is probably the most social lizard in the world. The researchers claimed it is the first lizard on the planet known to form stable families that build and maintain underground homes and “villages”.

They jointly work with one another in building and taking care of their burrows. The adults usually excavate the tunnles, while the younger lizards dig the small “pop” holes. Couples are faithful to one another and always mate with the same skink lizard.

The studies of the desert skink lizards were conducted at the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park in Northern Australia, the location of the world-renowned sandstone monolith, which stands 348 meters high and bears various inscriptions made by ancestral indigenous peoples. The rangers of the National Park monitor the threatened desert skink lizard, which belongs to the genus Liopholis, native to the south-western quarter of Northern Australia.

The Great Desert Skink Lizard is a medium-sized burrowing lizard, reaching average lengths of 7 inch (19 cm). It has very smooth and glossy scales, and is mostly rust-colored on the top of its body, with a vanilla-colored belly. It has fairly large eyes and a short snout.

Is it really the only Social Skink Lizard?

So far, there have been over 5,000 species of lizards that have been documented and studied all over the world, and from all these – only the Great Desert Skink Lizard has been found to live in tight social families that truly invest in building long-lasting homes. Their burrows can reach up to 40 feet (12 meters) in length, with as many as 20 entrances, and the skink lizard families will usually inhabit them for up to seven years.

This unique Skink lizard can pair with a mate for many years and raise several generations in one burrow constructed by the two parents. Old lizards will live in the same burrow with their siblings, regardless of age difference. Similarly to many humans around the world, these skink lizards can have one shared home for multiple generations of skinks, where all are contributing to finding food and maintaining their home.

The researchers also revealed that young skink lizards sharing the same home are almost all siblings, who decide to delay their home-leaving in order to care for their families. This family-like character is extremely unusual among lizards, making them possibly the most social lizards on the planet.

This research also collaborates with the old stories and knowledge of the ancient Aboriginal people, native to the area. They claim that Skink lizards indeed dig extensive burrows, then find their mates, return to the burrow and raise social families within these “homes”. They also claim that skink lizard parents usually remain faithful.

The research into the Great Desert Skink Lizard continues, as scientists believe these unique creatures can provide more insight into the evolution of family groups, and social behavior, which might also be relevant to humans.

Curious for more fascinating Lizard Facts and tales? Visit our Lizards Page!

cobras

snakebites
Photo by Marcelkudla

Most snakebites and fatalities by snakebites occur in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with India reporting the most deaths from snakebites, more than any other country in the world. Just this last few days presented us with two extremely different tales of two different Cobra snakes. The first was a three-foot-long Cobra that was rescued from the coach guard area of Biju Patnaik International Airport in the Odisha Capital in East India, while the other was a 20-foot-long Cobra that was sadly shot dead by police in the city of Karachi, India.

According to police reports, the 20-foot-long Cobra had caused terror in the area of Karachi. Residents were fearing for their lives, and were not able to sleep peacefully. During the past three months, there were more than 1,300 cases of snakebites reported in Thar’s Government hospitals. Snakebites have also caused multiple deaths in various areas across India over the years. However, most snakes and most of the bites are harmless.

The vast majority of snakebites are actually caused by non-venomous snakes. And to make things clear, out of the 3,300+ species of snakes known in the world, only 15% are regarded as dangerous and capable of inflicting deadly snakebites.

Snakebites Stats: How many get bitten each year?

Unfortunately, reporting a snakebite is not mandatory in most regions of the world, leaving us with no accurate statistics and with no substantial ability to examine the frequency of snakebites in every country. However, according to certain reports, it is estimated that there approximately 5.4 million snakebites every year. Around 46% of these (2.5 million) are venomous, resulting in approximately125,000 deaths, each year.

When do most Snakebites happen? Who is the typical Victim? And more…

Summer is the time when snakes are most active and us humans are outdoors enjoying the sun. This naturally makes it the most prone time for snakebites. Following the same pattern, tropical regions which are hot and humid all year long – mostly report more snakebites than anywhere else. The typical victims are those who tend to be more outside, playing, which are typically males between 17-27. Sadly, due to their weaker immune systems, children and old people are the most likely to die from deadly snakebites.

Back to our more optimistic story that occurred in the Biju Patnaik International Airport: It appears that some tower workers spotted the deadly Cobra roaming around in the backyards of the coach guard office, not far from where all the planes are kept. The snake could have easily entered a plane through the lower openings and led to casualties. However, instead of calling Police to shoot it down, they smartly called the Snake Helpline, which came by, rescued the snaked and released it in its natural habitat.