Poisonous vs. Venomous - What is the difference?

Is the snake poisonous or venomous? It's pretty simple:

VENOMOUS: It injects venom from its fangs to kill you.
POISONOUS: You have to eat the snake for it to kill you.

In short, the correct term is "venomous snake", not "poisonous snake". A toxin is any substance that is harmful to have in your body. When considering venom vs poison, it's really the method of delivery that matters. If the toxin is actively injected, such as via fangs, then it's a venom. If you eat the toxin, or absorb it through your skin or something, then it's a poison. When we talk about snakes, the correct term is that they are venomous, since they inject the toxin through their fangs. In addition, while many toxins may be classified as poison (such as bad potato salad) snake venom is pretty specific, in that they contain active peptide toxins, including proteases, which bond with tissues and destroy it or neurotoxins, which disable signalling in the nervous system.

What would happen if you ate a venomous snake? Well then, if the toxin in the snake harmed you, technically it would called a poison, and thus a poisonous snake. And of course, eating snake venom (ur, I mean poison) would harm you, but it's worse when it's injected directly into the bloodstream. I'm no expert here, but it's possible that your stomach and digestive system would neutralize much of the toxicity of the substance.

1) It is big and fat (all in the USA, except that red-black-yellow coral, are fat pit vipers)
2) It is a rattlesnake, with real rattles on the end of its tail
3) It has elliptical pupils (but I doubt you're close enough to look)

Here are photos of the most common venomous snake species in the USA: Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Diamondback, Coral Snake

Understanding Snake Venom and How It Works

In layman terms you can say that venom is a poison released by some animals and directly injected into another animal. They use this poison either to defend themselves or hunt down their pray. The type of venom is defined by the animal that is releasing it. Every kind of reptile secretes some kind of venom, expect birds. They are the only types that do no secrete poison, on the contrary, they are considered to be very friendly. When we talk about venom, the first animal that comes in our mind is a snake. Snakes are famous for their venomous bites. The venom of the snake can be categorized into three basic group hemotoxic, neurotoxic and cytotoxic.

The most dangerous type is Hemotoxic, the name itself is derived from that damage it does to your red blood cells. It tends to cause hemotoxins i.e. once entered in your body, the venom will destroy the red blood cells of your body. It will also damage the anti-clotting phenomena of the blood. Other symptoms of a Hemotoxic bite include low blood pressure, destruction of body tissues and organs. The place where the snake bit you it will become red and swell. These bites are very painful and they can lead to permanent damage of the tissues. If you don’t get help at the right time, the bite can also lead to death. Besides killing the victim, this venom can also help in digestion process as it has the ability to break down the proteins. The death caused by hemotoxic is usually slower as compared to the deaths caused by other venoms. Also, the type of the snake and the place where it has bitten can lead to other problems such as disorientation, headaches and nausea in humans.

Like all other venoms, the hemotoxic venom is also transferred through the fangs of the snake and it enters your body once you are bitten by the snake. Hemotoxic is located in glands that are present in the head of the snake. You can categorize these glands into two types first the true venom glands and second the false venom glands. There is saliva releasing suprabial glands present in the false venom glands. Suprabial glands are located on both sides of the head and they are extended downwards. They then then divides in different ducts and every duct is attached to individual tooth. On the contrary, the true venom glands connect to just one fang of either side of the snake’s jaw. These glands consist of complex connecting tissues. You might want to read Why do snakes bite?

Many snakes that are venomous have heart shaped heads, so it is recommended that people should stay away from such snakes. In-case they are bitten by a venomous snake they should call for help as soon as possible and also try to remember the kind of snake it was as this will help the doctor identify the type of venom.

Poisonous snake or venomous snake - the answer is venomous snake. That is the correct term, because snakes actively inject the toxin into their prey. Snake venom vs snake poison - when it's injected into you, it's venom. When a researcher "milks" a snake, it is said to be extracting the venom from the reptile. So in conclusion, what is the difference between venom and poison? How it gets into your body. Learn more about How to Identify Snakes and How to Tell if a Snake is Venomous.

More information about snakes:
How to lure a snake out of hiding or hole?
Understanding Snake Venom and How It Works
How do snakes eat?
Do snakes live in holes?
Is it legal for me to catch a venomous snake?
What is a snake’s mating habits, when do they have babies or lay eggs?
How do snakes kill their prey?
Do snakes always inject venom when they bite?
Venomous snake vs poisonous snake
Do snakes run out of venom?
How do snakes produce venom?
What is the Deadliest Snake in the United States

Venomous snake vs poisonous snake

As you travel through life you were going to quickly discover that there are many terms that are used interchangeably with one another. For example, people often use jealousy and envy in the exact same way, despite the fact that there is a difference between the two. In one case the person is jealous of something they don’t have, while on the other hand a person can be envious of somebody even though they already have that object or position that the other person has. It may be a subtle difference but it is a significant one.

The same is true of the way that people use the terms venomous and poisonous. A lot of people will talk about a snake being poisonous when they actually mean that it is venomous, and vice versa. This may seem like it is no big deal at all, but the truth of the matter is that there is a significant difference between the two and this helps you to be able to understand the necessary precautions you need to take should you be bitten by a snake. It’s important to understand what is the difference between a venomous snake versus a poisonous snake.

The Poisonous Snake

What makes these two kinds of snakes different is the location of where the poison is held within the snake and how it is released as a result. This is why the term venom makes such a significant difference in relation to the kind of snake that you are talking about.

One a person gets a poison from a snake it is absorbed into the lining of their skin, thus gaining access into the bloodstream where it is distributed throughout the body. This can be quite tragic to the organism that has been afflicted by the poison because it can affect such systems as the circulatory and respiratory systems. This can stop a heart from beating, it can cause the lungs to become paralyzed, or it can constrict vessels so that blood is unable to flow.

In the poisonous snake, for a person to get the poison inside of them they must in just the snake itself. This will cause the person or other animal to become ill, and may even lead to death in many instances. The most common way that people are poisoned by a snake is when they eat it for food. If they have not cooked it properly or removed the poison from the snake it can cause them to become sick during ingestion and they can easily die from it.

Understanding this means that the snake does not somehow inflict its poison into you or any other organism.

The Venomous Snake

This is not true with this kind of snake. This is the most common snake that people are familiar with in terms of their fear of being poisoned and dying. The venomous snake will bite you, thus injecting its poison into you or any other organism, so that it’s venom is spread throughout the organism’s body.

There are four different kinds of venom that can be injected into another organism. The two most common kinds are neurotoxins, which affect the nervous system, thus often leading to paralysis, and cardiotoxins, which affect the heart and stop it from beating. In either one of these cases the injection of this kind of venom into an organism will most assuredly lead to death. The other two kinds of toxins are cytotoxins and hemotoxins which affect blood and cells within the body. The effects of these kinds of venoms can be different depending on the size of the organism that is bitten.

For more information about Venomous snake vs poisonous snake, go to my Snake Removal - How to Get Rid of Snakes home page.