Even in Spain we do not get rid of the dreaded snake bites, unfortunately. And neither do our pets, cats and dogs can be the target of these reptiles . In fact, it has been observed over time throughout the world – but especially in Australia – that cats tend to survive better on snake venom. Why does this happen?
No, it seems that the reason is not that cats have seven lives. But, according to a study by Dr. Bryan Fry and Christina Zdenek, from the University of Queensland, the secret seems to be in the blood . Or, rather, how long it takes for the blood of cats and dogs to clot.
Fry and Zdenek's study, published earlier this month in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology compares how different samples of blood of our two favorite pets to 11 other than snake poisons . The result? Cat blood takes longer to clot. Hence only 31% of dogs survive snake bites in Australia compared to 66% of cats.
Logic would tell us that if more venom is needed to kill larger animals, the opposite is expected to happen in animals like cats. However, this is not the case. “I have had two friends who have lost large dogs to snake bites, dying in less than 10 minutes despite the responsible eastern brown snakes they weren't particularly large specimens, “Fry said in a press release.
The most dangerous snakes in Australia (but also in other parts of the world) kill because they make the blood of their victims clot. “The poisons of some snakes use all the molecules that cause clotting so there is nothing left to stop the bleeding,” they explain at IFLScience. That dogs already clot quickly suggests that they are more vulnerable to this type of poison .
“All poisons acted faster in the dog's plasma than the cat or the human,” said Zdenek. “The spontaneous blood clotting time, even without venom, was dramatically faster in dogs than in cats.” On the other hand, human blood clotting lies between the two, “but closer to the end of the cat,” Fry tells IFLScience . This is good news for us.
On the other hand, the way dogs and cats explore is also different. While cats “often kick their feet,” dogs often use their noses and mouths, “which are areas with high vascularity.” These areas, therefore, are much more vulnerable because they are crossed by small blood vessels.
Poisonous snakes in Spain
Although Australia seems to be the paradise of animals that can kill you as quickly as possible, in Spain we also have poisonous snakes. This is the reason why it is not recommended to go to high brush areas with dogs , to avoid being bitten. This warning also extends to people, who must be very careful in certain areas.
In Spain, five types of poisonous snakes can be found, as indicated by Anticimex , an international pest control company. These are the Vipera aspis (asp snake or Pyrenean snake), which is the most poisonous that can be found in our territory; Vipera latastei (snout viper), Vipera seoanei (Cantabrian viper); Malpolon monspessulanus (bastard snake) and Macroprotodon cucullatus (cowling snake).
“It is important to emphasize that the fatal cases of snake bites in Spain are exceptional , since of the approximately 2. 000 people bitten by vipers every year, only between 3 and 5 die (less than half of those who die from allergic reactions caused by wasp or bee stings) “, commented from Anticimex in its web portal.
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