Venom: killer but also a potential cure

By Steve Allain, Imperial College London

One of my biggest pet peeves as a herpetologist is the trouble that some people have with distinguishing between a venom and a poison – I thought I’d address this early on as I don’t wish to confuse anyone. There is an easy way to remember which is which, a venom has to be injected and a poison has to be ingested. It is very likely that if you ingested a venom it wouldn’t have any effect on your body due to the same protective properties in the stomach that protect us from pathogens, such as the change in pH.

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