Theodore Roosevelt > Through the Brazilian Wilderness > Page 10
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  Through the Brazilian Wilderness.  1914.

Page 10
 
of possible importance to us because of the trip we were about to take. South America, even more than Australia and Africa, and almost as much as India, is a country of poisonous snakes. As in India, although not to the same degree, these snakes are responsible for a very serious mortality among human beings. One of the most interesting evidences of the modern advance in Brazil is the establishment near Sao Paulo of an institution especially for the study of these poisonous snakes, so as to secure antidotes to the poison and to develop enemies to the snakes themselves. We wished to take into the interior with us some bottles of the anti-venom serum, for on such an expedition there is always a certain danger from snakes. On one of his trips Cherrie had lost a native follower by snake-bite. The man was bitten while out alone in the forest, and, although he reached camp, the poison was already working in him, so that he could give no intelligible account of what had occurred, and he died in a short time.
  Poisonous snakes are of several different families, but the most poisonous ones, those which are dangerous to man, belong to the two great families of the colubrine snakes and the vipers. Most of the colubrine snakes are entirely harmless, and are the common snakes that we meet everywhere. But some of them, the cobras for instance, develop into what are on the whole perhaps the most formidable of all snakes. The only poisonous colubrine snakes in the New World are the ring-snakes, the coral-snakes of the genus elaps, which are found from the extreme southern United States southward to the Argentine. These coral-snakes are not vicious and

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