Snakes know how much venom they have and won’t attack if running low

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pit viper

A venomous pit viper (Deinagkistrodon acutus)

Shutterstock / Milan Vachal

Pit vipers may be able to sense how much venom they have in reserve to deal with a threat, a study suggests.

Previous research indicates that venomous animals, including spiders, scorpions and snakes, use their precious venom frugally, essentially metering it out when they are hunting prey. However, little was known about the possibility of doing so in other contexts, such as self-defence.

Yige Piao and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu have now shown that sharp-snouted pit vipers (Deinagkistrodon acutus), …

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