How do we measure the potency of a snake’s venom?


When reading about a highly venomous snake, you’ll most likely see something about how one drop can kill X amount of people, but how do scientists calculate that number and is it actually possible for just 1 drop of a particular snake’s venom to kill more than 1 person?

In: 1

They estimate the lethal dose through animal experiments. LD50 is the dose at wich 50% of the test animals died (to average out over different resistances)

That dose can be very tiny. For Taipoxin for example thats just 2 microgram per kg bodymass. So with a whole gram (wich is drop sized) you could kill 500,000 kg of mammal. Divide by average human weight (70kg) to get the number of people you could give a 50/50 chance of lethal injection by distributing that gram.

You see there are some points of imprecision here. First you can’t give a level that is “guaranteed lethal” as some people randomly have super high resistance to certain poisons. Then it’s mostly tested with rodents, and actual lethal doses for humans can be much higher or much lower (they are similar to us, but not equal)