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Spiders, scorpions, snakes, a world of animals live freely in nature and sometimes in our homes and gardens. Everyone says they are poisonous (and, mostly, they are), but we must differentiate between poisonous animals and those that are dangerous to humans. This is the first step in breaking the taboo that makes these animals so misunderstood.
Poisons Surround Us
The number of animals, plants and poisonous substances that surround us in our daily lives is amazing. Any substance can be poisonous in great quantities, including oxygen and water. The difference is that a poison works in smaller quantities. An ant injects poison when it bites, but this does not kill. The same is true of most poisonous animals. The poison was designed to kill small prey, such as an insect, frog or mouse, and they only use it when it is truly necessary, in hunting or self-defense.
In the development and evolution of human life, we have discovered and used plants and other organic substances for medicinal purposes. Currently, many of the medications we consume contain substances that were extracted from plants, animals or minerals, and help fight pains and illnesses that earlier could not be treated, all thanks to poisons.
The separation of certain toxins in these poisons, in combination with a calculated dose, allows scientists to create novel treatments to treat both muscular pains and degenerative illnesses, such as arterial hypertension, diabetes or even cancer.
Thousand Of Spiders, Very Few Dangerous
Of the 35,000 known species of spiders, Mexico is home to about 2,000, most of which live away from humans. A minority get into our homes in search of a meal. All of them, inside and out of the house, are an important natural control of insects, which also get in our homes.
Although practically every spider produces a poisonous or toxic substance, only a few of them are able to bite through human skin, and very few have a poison powerful enough to produce more than a temporary localized annoyance. Nevertheless, it is important to mention those few species we have in Mexico and to be able to tell the difference between a dangerous species, and one that isn't. Only three species are particularly important: the black widow or capulina, the brown widow (Latrodectus sp.) and the recluse spider, brown or violinist (Loxosceles recluse), which can kill a small child or a person with hypersensitivity to their poison.
Big And Small Scorpions: Are They All Poisonous?
Of the more than 1,300 species of scorpions in the world, only 25 are dangerous to humans and only seven are found in Mexico, (centruroides sp). Although it is possible to distinguish which are poisonous (by verifying the shape of a small structure of their body), the risk of trying to catch them isn't worth it. If you are bitten, you must take the scorpion with you when requesting medical help, so the doctor can determine the level of danger and appropriate treatment. Although Mexico holds first place in the world in the number of scorpion bites, very few result in death.
And What About Snakes?
These reviled reptiles are mostly inoffensive. Most snakes found in urban or rural areas do not represent any danger to humans. Even in sparsely populated areas, it is difficult to find a snake, since people kill them at the first chance. Right now in Mexico, almost 63 poisonous species are known, belonging to the Elapidae and Viperidae families, but in Jalisco we only have 13 of them. It is necessary be particular cautious with rattlesnakes (crotalus sp.) and coral snakes (Micrurus nigrocinctus).
It is believed that less than 0.0005% of people who have been stung or bitten by a poisonous animal run the risk of dying, which shows, on one hand, the effectiveness of medical treatments and, on the other, the low risk of suffering real danger. The truth is that most accidents involving poisonous animals were provoked by the person, who disturbed it and was attacked in an effort at self-defense. The best advice is to respect and not disturb any animal we suspect may be poisonous. Caution and distance are the best tools we have to prevent an accident.