Contrary to the common belief, venomous snakes will not always inject venom when they bite their victim; such a situation is referred to as a dry bite. Dry bite pertains to the bite of a venomous snake but will not involve envenomation. It can happen on different snake species, but the frequency of a dry bite occurring is still uncertain. The term was first used in the 1980s to define a venomous snake bite with negligible or no venom.
What Are the Factors That May Cause the Snake to Deliver Dry Bites?
Factors related to snakes are considered to be responsible for most dry bite occurrences. One of the main reasons is the failure of the snake to deliver the venom. It can be due to inflammatory responses, excessive pressure on the snake's venom gland, trauma, physical agents, and viral infections. Tissue damage on the venom glands will likely lead to an empty gland and will therefore result in a dry bite. If there is a calcification on the snakes' fangs, there will probably be an obstruction on the venom ducts that may also be the possible reason for a dry bite. This condition will often be seen among older snakes. Any mechanical failure may cause the inefficient grab of the fangs; thus, failure of envenomation will happen.
Is Dry Bite Deliberate?
Dry bite among snakes cannot be solely attributed to faulty venom devices. You will be surprised to know that most dry bites are intentional. It can be due to the snake that is conserving its venom. This behavior of the snake can be related to their age. The saying 'with age comes wisdom' can also be applied to snakes. Adult snakes are more judicious compared to juveniles and will deliver dry bite more often. They will do this to scare the predator that will give them enough room to escape. This situation may arise in different ways, such as:
· The snake may evaluate their encounter with the victim; they will bite but will not activate their venom gland.
· The snake may activate the venom gland, but the venom volume will be insufficient; it is a strategy known as venom metering.
Another cause of dry bite is due to the snake miscalculating the distance between them and the target. There are also instances when the venom gland will be empty. The possibility of having an empty venom sac can be determined according to the duration since the last time that the snake used its venom and its age. Older snakes tend to be more efficient in storing body fat; therefore, they will be able to replenish their venom much faster.
In the US, 1 in every four bites of the pit vipers is considered a dry bite. Therefore, you don't necessarily have to seek additional treatment. The doctor may still administer anti-tetanus and other vaccines to prevent any repercussion. At home, make sure that the wound will remain dry and clean. If the pain or soreness did not go away within 24 hours, call your doctors immediately.
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