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Chat Transcript
Bryan Grieg Fry 1/5/00


JFORKS - hello and welcome everyone
JFORKS - our guest tonight is Bryan Greig Fry
BGFry - Good to be here (or there as the case may be)
JFORKS - Bryan will be speaking about the venomous snakes of Australia

JFORKS - I'll start, how many species of venomous snakes are there in Australia?
BGFry - Hmmmmm...... its a rather large number, Australia has the dubious (or as I view it fortunate)
BGFry - distinction of being the only continent with more venomous than non.
BGFry - There are around thirty to thirty five dangerous species and
BGFry - another sixty or so non-lethal species. This depends on who's
BGFry - taxonomy you are using (your mileage may vary).

BP - hello, you always see all the venomous snakes in oz on tv, is there any problems with them in towns or citys.
BGFry - Yes. It is very species dependent. Some, such as Acanthophis (Death adders) are very -
BGFry - sensitive to habitat disturbance while others such as Pseudonaja ssp -
BGFry - (brown snakes, textilis (Eastern) in particular) thrive in suburban environments.

bridget29 - i wonder if many people get bit..... like when working under houses, things like that
BGFry - Yes, the eastern brown snake is the leading cause of snakebites and also deaths -
BGFry - The spiders are also a problem. There are now forty two species of -
BGFry - funnel web spiders, they have been discovered to range all up eastern seaboard
bridget29 - Does it affect the quality of life... the danger
BGFry - As for the quality of life-
BGFry - NO! Australia is by far the best place to live ... and venomous snakes are a plus in my opinion!! ;-)

Mattmorelia - How frequent are Taipan bites and how many people die each year as a result? (sorry such a dull question :)
BGFry - Not frequent (other than to handlers). There was one just north of here a month or so ago -
BGFry - deaths are very rare due to good first aid and excellent antivenoms and .... -
BGFry - the doctors actually have a clue!!
Mattmorelia - good, thanks!

Niki4 - I understand the high toxic requirements for sea snakes to kill their prey, what is the purpose do you think for land snakes to be so toxic?? Is it their prey?
BGFry - Hmmmmmm ..... the age old debate -
BGFry - First, Australia is the only continent where reptiles have always been the dominant predators -
BGFry - Second, all the venomous snakes here (except Boiga irregularis and fusca) are elapids -
BGFry - However, this still doesn't explain the perceived toxicity -
BGFry - I say perceived because it is the greatest myth that Australia has all the top ten -
BGFry - and most of the top twenty. This is based off an 1979 study by Broad et al. -
BGFry - This study was never intended to be ranking, it was merely a look the more common -
BGFry - dangerous Australians with some non-Oz species for comparisons. -
BGFry - On my web-page, I have all the published LD50 data. There are heaps of non Australians in the top ten.
Niki4 - sounds good, thanks - have your site bookmarked too
BGFry - One more thing -
BGFry - This still doesn't explain the massive overkill. For example, an inland Taipan -
BGFry - only bites one mouse at a time but has enough venom in that bite to kill half a million -
BGFry - This is massive overkill since, unlike viper venom, elapids venoms usually produce little tissue destruction.

JFORKS - Bryan tell us a little bit about what you are researching now, and anything else you would like to share with us about your current projects.
BGFry - OK, right now I have a few things going -
BGFry - One, some novel blood pressure regulating components. I found these the easy (or hard) -
BGFry - way. Got bit by a rare species and it walloped my blood pressure. Kept it at -
BGFry - 90/28 for eighteen hours. Not fun. -
BGFry - Second, just finished a major workup on the death adder antivenom -
BGFry - revealed some major problems. In three of the species the av completely abolished -
BGFry - the effects of the venom, in four it worked so-so and in three it didn't work at all! -
BGFry - A third project is novel protease inhibitors from some of the venoms. -
BGFry - Theses contribute to some of the coagulation problems associated with Australian bites.

arlow1 - Where is your site?
BGFry - http://www.uq.edu.au/~ddbfry/index.html ALTHOUGH it shall be moving to .... -
BGFry - kingsnake.com since the folks there are being gracious enough to host it -
BGFry - I will be adding video to it.

bigtymer1 - what are some of your experiences with Taipans?
BGFry - I have milked quite a number of Taipans (both inland and coastal) and find them to be rather -
BGFry - different. The inland is much mellower and seems less 'aware'. More like a normal snake. -
BGFry - The coastal, however, is very intelligent and moves with directionality. -
BGFry - Hmmmmm..... there have been quite a number -
BGFry - One, almost getting bit in the crotch by a three meter Taipan would take the prize though.

BP - what are the biggest and deadliest venomous snake that one would have to worry about, while walking in the brush or wooded areas
BGFry - As a general rule, you really don't need to worry about snakes while walking -
BGFry - 1. many species are nocturnal -
BGFry - 2. they are usually 'shy'
BGFry - 3. they are a lot less frequently encountered than is perceived

bigtymer1 - Have you ever handled a tame captive bred Taipan? or brown snake?
BGFry - Not a coastal Taipan, but a few inlands. Only one brown snake but it was brick red -
BGFry - with yellow bands. Amazing snake.

Niki4 - What major reluctance is there still to overcome that the medical field may have against using snake venom for disease treatments in humans?
BGFry - A few -
BGFry - . specificity of action. Many physiological targets share a common receptor
BGFry - 2. purity
BGFry - 3. immune reactions. Most venom components are too large to be effective -
BGFry - since they stimulate too much of an immune response or are prohibitively expensive to make -
BGFry - components from the cone snails, however, are showing great promise in the clinical -
BGFry - treatment of pain.

bigtymer1 - Bryan, so you handled Taipans that were almost as tame as a python?? You didn't have to hold it by the head?
BGFry - the inlands were like holding any number of colubrids HOWEVER -
BGFry - it is still foolhardy to freehandle them (and I only take those photos out at parties ;-)

bigtymer1 - do you think any kind of venomous snake could be tame if handled when it is a neonate?
BGFry - No. Reptile behavior is dictated more by genetics than by learning. -
bigtymer1 - what venomous species do you think could be tamed?
BGFry - Many species have characteristic behaviors. FX, retics being evil, Burmese mellow etc..
BGFry - For venomous -
BGFry - some of the most mellow I have found have been non-Australian. Most Aus are rather nervous.

SteveS - a good friend of mine is working in beerwah, he just came across a stephens banded snake, have you worked with those at all?
BGFry - Where did he come across it? We have a permit to collect those for some antivenom work -
SteveS - he actually found it in the wild by the way
BGFry - put him in contact with me.
SteveS - he didn't say, i guess it was about an hour at least out of beerwah
SteveS - ok, i will do that
BGFry - Good good. If he wants to go collecting, I'm available. I'll be in the states for a month -
SteveS - his name is jeff lemm, he's working at the Australia zoo
BGFry - starting Thursday (going to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to test some venom components)
BGFry - but back here mid-Feb

arlow1 - what's the largest venomous snake in oz and are ther any venomous lizards common name please
BGFry - largest in Australia is easily the coastal Taipan but the mulga is a close second and -
BGFry - may actually weigh more. The mulga delivers the most venom though. No venomous lizards here.

bigtymer1 - how difficult is it to pin a Taipan?
BGFry - Regarding the pinning of a Taipan, depends on size. The larger ones are very very strong -
BGFry - but the smaller ones are wiry and quick. No matter what, a coastal Taipan is a handful -
BGFry - the inlands are much easier. As for tailing, this is not a great drama but must be kept to smaller -
BGFry - snakes for obvious reasons. Pinning is still a different ballgame.

Niki4 - Is there a snake species you have not had an opportunity to work with that you would like to?
BGFry - a few of the rarer ones here (Bardick and Lake Cronin snake) -
BGFry - as for non-native, I worked with just about everything under the sun when I was doing my undergrad and honors research in the states.

JFORKS - everyday there are more and more laws concerning the keeping of venomous snakes -
JFORKS - do you think that it should be legal for anyone to keep a venomous snake?
JFORKS - and if not what should the criteria be for deciding
BGFry - It is a bit of dilemma. I think the odds of something escaping and harming someone -
BGFry - is rather low (ever tried finding a loose snake). HOWEVER, -
BGFry - should something go wrong, it can be profound. In Australia, the medical side -
BGFry - is well managed. But in the states, the odds of surviving, for example, a saw-scaled viper -
BGFry - envenomation are rather low. SOOOO.... what to do to. Most keepers are responsible -
BGFry - so I think the regulations should be loosened on antivenom importation and -
BGFry - snakes allowed as long as the person can demonstrate locked cages, etc... -
BGFry - a permit system of sorts for venomous with different grades/levels.

JeffB - are there any interesting aboriginal legends regarding venomous snakes?
BGFry - Heaps. Too many to go into (plus other than having been bestowed the Aboriginal name of -
BGFry - Princess White Devil) my interaction is limited! ;-)
JeffB - LOL
BGFry - Sorry Jeff, couldn't resist that!!

bigtymer1 - Do you breed any venomous??
BGFry - Yes, I am establishing a National Reference collection for my research and for others -
bigtymer1 - have you bred any Taipans?
BGFry - Current projects are two variants of the desert death adder, the black head death adder, -
BGFry - the darling range death adder, an unnamed intergrade species of death adder -
BGFry - Future projects will be Stephen's banded snakes, Pale-head snakes, and Rough-scaled snakes,
bigtymer1 - do you work with the young so they will be tame?
BGFry - a few others are planned too (Bardicks, Lake Cronin, etc..). No Taipans planned at the moment -
BGFry - working with the young has little taming effect. The only 'working' I do with the snakes is milking them

DougL - Is there a significant difference in venom toxin levels in an Aussie elapid that ranges a vast area. Basically do you find some locales to be less/more toxic then other? if you know what i am trying to say...............
BGFry - Yes I do and the answer is yes -
DougL - how about aggressiveness? in the same situation?
BGFry - I've found some rather significant variations with some of the snakes. -
BGFry - This has obvious implications for antivenom use. As for aggressiveness, can't comment too much -
BGFry - on that.
DougL - thanks

Niki4 - What would be an Australian native equivalent of a "first hot", such as my (U.S.) Copperheads for keepers there?
BGFry - Hmmmm..... one of the black snakes would be a good choice or a copperhead.
BGFry - Austrelaps species, our copperheads

syspila - have you ever worked with vipers/pitvipers, and if so, how do they compare to elapids as far as maintenance and handling in general
BGFry - Yes I have. Vipers are much easier since they have a lower metabolic rate so cage cleaning is less.

JeffB - do you ever get tired of answering the top 10 deadliest snakes question
BGFry - yes rather, thats why I put up the webpage, to direct people there.
JeffB - is there any one type of snake you just don't want to work with
BGFry - Hmmmm....... I loath eastern brown snakes -
BGFry - nervous, ready to strike (and evenomate) but give bugger all venom -
bigtymer1 - out of all the venomous snakes you handled, which one got you nervous the most?
BGFry - one in particular I won't touch, its a bit over two meters, extremely aggressive but won't yield venom -
BGFry - however, I bet it would evenomate nicely given a chance. I'll never try that one again!!!

syspila - ever messed with rear-fanged snakes?
BGFry - yes, they are difficult (close to impossible) to milk.... this is for all but boomslangs and twig snakes -
BGFry - the only two that have the fangs very far (mid-jaw so should really be called mid-fangs) and -
BGFry - are properly hollow not grooved. Much easier.
syspila - neat
syspila - any experience with mangrove snakes?
BGFry - yes, love mangroves.

Niki4 - Do you feel that overall the general public in Australia is slightly more tolerant of reptiles than the American general public??
BGFry - As for tolerance, public yes ... government is, however, a real pain for a private person who wants to keep snakes

JFORKS - Bryan on behalf of JeffB and kingsnake.com I want to thank you for being with us tonight
BGFry - Well, I must go now. Its been fun. Cheers,
JFORKS - Thank you Bryan!
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