eli5 what is it that makes a snake more venomous then another?


today I came across a video with a title along the lines of ‘second most venomous snake, only after then inland tipan’ and I’m wondering what makes something more venomous then another?

Is it how quickly it makes the blood clot/ affect the blood? Is it how rare the meds are to fix it or how quickly you have to seek medical treatment? As I type this post I’m thinking maybe it is how deadly the venom is. Anybody know?


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Just like spag bol, there’s more than one recipe for venom. Each type of snake has its own recipe that works the best for it – just like your Mum cooks spag bol that everyone in your house gobbles up, but your neighbourkid thinks tastes funny.

The most venomous snake is the one that has a recipe that works for everyone.

That’s just one way snake venom can work (hemotoxic venom) but there are other ways it can work too. There are many different types of snake venom that all work a bit differently and some of them are more or less dangerous to humans. It’s not like they all work the same way and some just do more than others.

We generally rank how deadly different chemicals are by something called the LD50 which is the dose that is lethal to 50% of the individuals it is given too. So if you took a 100 mice and gave them varying doses of snake venom, the dose that kills 50 of them is the LD50. The venom with the lowest LD50 and most volume injected by the snake will generally be the deadliest ([here is a list](https://untamedscience.com/blog/most-venomous-snakes-in-the-world/)).

Snake antivenom is actually just antibodies that bind to the proteins that make up the snake venom. So every snake antivenom will actually work the same way (the antibodies bind the venom preventing it from working and your immune system destroys it) even though the venoms are different. These antibodies/antivenom are made by injecting lower doses of venom into animals (essentially a vaccine) and then purifying antivenom antibodies from their blood once their immune systems respond by making the antibodies. This can be done without hurting the animal.