Leptodeira bakeri (Serpentes: Colubridae): a Venomous or Non-Venomous Snake?

Amalid Estrella, Luís Navarrete, Elda E. Sánchez, Alexis Rodríguez-Acosta


Comparatively modest consideration has been given to the biological properties of venoms produced by opisthoglyphous colubrids. Leptodeira bakeri belongs to the Colubridae family, which includes well over half of the snake species on earth. Snakes in this family had been considered non-venomous. The purpose of this study was to investigate the diverse toxic activities of L. bakeri venom, a Venezuelan opisthoglyphous (rear-fanged) snake. Crude venom showed approximately 24 protein bands under reducing conditions on a sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Partial purification of venom fractions containing proteolytic activity was done by molecular exclusion chromatography (Superose 12). Five peaks (I – V) were obtained and SDS-PAGE for each peak was carried out. Peak II had hemorrhagic activity. Venom hemorrhagic activity on chicken embryos and mice, gelatinase activity and neurotoxic clinical manifestations were assayed. The LD50 for L. bakeri venom was determined to be 1.35 mg/kg mouse body weight. Leptodeira bakeri venom confirmed to have proteolytic, hemorrhagic, and neurotoxic activities, which should be classified as a venomous Colubridae snake. Studying venoms from opisthoglyphous snakes has its difficulties since obtaining enough venom to carry out purification and performing multiple biological assays is not an easy task. This work offers additional evidence that colubrid venoms consist of numerous components which can exhibit a multiplicity of activities, some of which may be new, consequently emphasizing the basically unexploited potentials of colubrid snake venoms. To our knowledge, this is the first work in which neurotoxic and hemorrhagic signs and symptoms produced by L. bakeri venom have been reported.


Colubridae; hemorrhagic activity; lethal activity; neurotoxic activity; proteolytic activity; venom

Full Text:



Anonymous (1985), Principles of Laboratory Animal Care. Pub. 85 No. 23, National Institute of Health, Bethesda.

Bailey A. J. and Light N. D. (1989), Connective Tissue in Meat and Meat Products, Elsevier Applied Science, London.

Barrick B., Campbell E. J., and Owen C. A. (1999), «Leukocyte proteinases in wound healing: roles in physiologic and pathologic processes», Wound. Repair. Regen., 7(6), 410 – 422.

Beghini D. G., Rodrigues-Simioni L., Toyama M. H., Novello J. C., da Cruz-Höfling M. A., and Marangoni S. (2004), «Neurotoxic and myotoxic actions of crotoxin-like and Crotalus durissus cascavella whole venom in the chick biventer cervicis preparation», Toxicon, 43, 255 – 261.

Broadley D. G. (1957), «Fatalities from the bites of Dispholidus and Thelotornis and personal case history», J. Herpetol. Ass. Rhodesia, 1(1), 5.

Camillo M. A., Arruda-Paes P. C., Troncone L. R., and Rogero J. R. (2001), «Gyroxin fails to modify in vitro release of labelled dopamine and acetylcholine from rat and mouse striatal tissue», Toxicon, 39(6), 843 – 853.

Campbell J. A. and Lamar W. W. (1989), The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America, NY Comstock Publ. Assoc. – Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, NY.

Conduit R., Sasse A., Hodgson W., Trinder J., Veasey S., and Tucker A. (2007), «A neurotoxinological approach to the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea», Sleep. Med. Ver., 11(5), 361 – 375.

De Araujo M. E. and Dos Santos A. C. (1997), «Cases of human envenoming caused by Philodryas olfersii and Philodryas patagoniensis (Serpentes: Colubridae)», Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop., 30(6), 517 – 519.

Diaz F., Navarrete L. F., Pefaur J., and Rodríguez-Acosta A. (2004), «Envenomation by neotropical opisthoglyphous colubrid Thamnodynastes cf. pallidus Linn., 1758 (Serpentes: Colubridae) in Venezuela», Rev. Inst. Med. Trop. S. Paulo, 46(5), 287 – 290.

Fontana M. D., Heleno M. G., and Vital Brazil O. (1996), «Mode of action of Duvernoy’s gland extracts from the colubrid Dryadophis bifossatus in the chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation», Toxicon, 34(10), 1187 – 1190.

Fry B. G., Lumsden N. G., Wüster W., Wickramaratna J. C., Hodgson W. C., and Kini R. M. (2003), «Isolation of a neurotoxin (alpha-colubritoxin) from a nonvenomous colubrid: evidence for early origin of venom in snakes», J. Mol. Evol., 57(4), 446 – 452.

Gutierrez J. M., Leon G., Rojas G., Lomonte B., Ruvacado A., and Chaves F. (1998), «Neutralization of local tissue damage induced by Bothrops asper (terciopelo) snake venom», Toxicon, 36(11), 529 – 1538.

Huang S. Y. and Pérez J. C. (1980), «Comparative study on hemorrhagic and proteolytic activities of snake venoms», Toxicon, 18(4), 421 – 426.

Jin Y., Lee W. H., Zeng L., and Zhang Y. (2007), «Molecular characterization of L-amino acid oxidase from king cobra venom», Toxicon, 50(4), 79 – 89.

Kamiguti A. S., Theakston R. D. G., Sherman N., and Fox J. W. (2000), «Mass spectrophotometric evidence for P-III/P-IV metalloproteinases in the venom of the boomslang (Dispholidus typus), Toxicon, 38(11), 1613 – 1620.

Laemmli U. K. (1970), «Cleavage of structural proteins during the assembly of the head of bacteriophage T4», Nature, 227(5259), 680 – 685.

Lancini A. and Kornacker P. (1989), Die Schlangen von Venezuela, Verlag Armitano, Caracas.

Larréché S., Mion G., Clapson P., Debien B., Wybrecht D., and Goyffon M. (2008)», Neurotoxins from snake venom», Ann. Fr. Anesth. Reanim., 27(4), 310 – 316.

Lemoine K. and Rodríguez-Acosta A. (2003), «Hemorrhagic, proteolytic and neurotoxic activities produced by the false coral snake (Erythrolamprus bizona Jan 1863) (Serpentes: Colubridae) Duvernoy’s gland secretion», Rev. Cient. FCV-LUZ, 13(2), 371 – 377.

Lemoine K., Salgueiro L. M., Rodríguez-Acosta A., and Acosta J. A. (2004a), «Neurotoxic, hemorrhagic and proteolytic activities of Duvernoy’s gland secretion from Venezuelan opisthoglyphous colubrid snakes in mice», Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 46(1), 10 – 14.

Lemoine K., Girón M. E., Aguilar I., Navarrete L. F., and Rodríguez-Acosta A. (2004b), «Proteolytic, haemorrhagic and neurotoxic activities caused by Leptodeira annulata ashmeadii (Serpentes: Colubridae) Duvernoy’s gland secretion», J. Wild Environ. Med., 15(2), 82 – 89.

Li Z. Y., Yu T. F., and Lian E. C. (1994), «Purification and characterization of l-amino acid oxidase from king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) venom and its effects on human platelet aggregation», Toxicon, 32(11), 1349 – 1358.

Lira M. S., Furtado M. F., Martins L. M., Lopes-Ferreira M., Santoro M. L., and Barbaro K. C. (2007), «Enzymatic and immunochemical characterization of Bothrops insularis venom and its neutralization by polyspecific Bothrops antivenom», Toxicon, 49(7), 982 – 994.

Lowry O., Rosebrough N., Farr L., and Randall R. (1951), «Protein measurement with the folin phenol reagent», J. Biol. Chem., 193(1), 265 – 275.

Mebs D. (1968), «Analysis of Leptodeira annulata venom», Herpetologica, 24(3), 338 – 339.

Mijares-Urrutia A., Markezich A. L., and Arends R. A. (1995), «Discovery of Leptodeira bakeri Ruthven (Serpentes: Colubridae) in the Paraguaná Peninsula, north-eastern Venezuela: With descriptive and biological comments», Carribean J. Sci., 1(1), 77 – 82.

Mittleman M. B. and Goris R. C. (1978), «Death caused by the bite of the Japanese colubrid snake Rhabdophis tigrinus (Boie) (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae)», J. Herpetol., 12(2), 109 – 111.

Navarrete L. F., Lemoine K., and Rodríguez-Acosta A. (1999), «Is the opisthoglyphous Clelia clelia Duvernoy’s gland secretion haemorrhagic in humans?» Acta Biol. Venez., 19(1), 19 – 23.

Pungercar J. and Krizaj I. (2007), «Understanding the molecular mechanism underlying the presynaptic toxicity of secreted phospholipases A2», Toxicon, 50(7), 871 – 892.

Ribeiro L. A., Puorto G., and Jorge M. T. (1999), «Bites by the colubrid snake Philodryas olfersii: a clinical and epidemiological study of 43 cases», Toxicon, 37(6), 943 – 948.

Rodríguez-Acosta A., Girón M. E., Aguilar I., and Fuentes O. (1997), «A case of envenomation by a ‘non venomous’ snake (Philodryas viridissimus) and comparison between this snake Duvernoy’s gland secretion and northern South American rattlesnakes venoms», Arch. Venez. Med. Trop., 1(1), 29 – 32.

Rodríguez-Acosta A., Lemoine K., Navarrete L., Girón M., and Aguilar I. (2006), «Experimental ophitoxemia produced by the opisthoglyphous Lora snake (Philodryas olfersii) (Serpentes: Colubridae) venom», Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop., 39(2), 193 – 197.

Rossetto O. and Montecucco C. (2008), «Presynaptic neurotoxins with enzymatic activities», Handb. Exp. Pharmacol., 184, 129 – 170.

Sánchez E. E., Galán J. A., Pérez J. C., Rodríguez-Acosta A., Chase P. B., and Pérez J. C. (2003), «The efficacy of two antivenoms against the venom of North American snakes», Toxicon, 41(3), 357 – 365.

Spearman C. and Karber G. (1978), «Alternative methods of analysis for quantal responses», in: Finney D. J. (eds.), Statistical Methods in Biological Assays, Charles Griffin, London, pp. 1 – 76.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2011-18-1-51–58


  • There are currently no refbacks.

You can subscribe to the print or electronic version of the journal on the site of EastView Company. If you have any questions, please write to the email sales@ivis.ru