Venomous snakes invade Port Moresby

"Watch your step," says local expert.



J.A. Getzlaff
January 15, 2000 10:00PM (UTC)

The taipan and the death adder were responsible for most of the warm-weather snakebites in Papua New Guinea's capital city, reported the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier recently.

Both snakes are listed among the world's 10 most poisonous serpents. A local author named Philip Willmott-Sharp was interviewed for the article and assured readers that these two species of snakes "are not going to chase you."

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On the other hand, he prudently added, the serpents will bite you if stepped upon.

A snake bite from a taipan (a species that commonly reaches lengths of 6 feet) results in vomiting, paralysis and death from respiratory failure if an antivenin is not administered.

A bite from a death adder, by contrast, results in disruption of equilibrium and sweating before paralysis and death from respiratory failure set in.

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When asked whether reports that Port Moresby General Hospital did not stock snake bite antidotes were true, Willmott-Sharp would not comment.

He did, however, say that residents and visitors could purchase his book on Papua New Guinea, which features a chapter on snakebites.

Gee, thanks.


J.A. Getzlaff

J.A. Getzlaff's Daily Planet appears every weekday. Do you have a tip or tale for J.A.? Send it to DailyPlanet@salon.com.

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