Theodore Roosevelt > Through the Brazilian Wilderness > Page 14
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  Through the Brazilian Wilderness.  1914.

Page 14
 
These include one very formidable venomous snake, the Indian hamadryad, or giant cobra, and several non-poisonous snakes. In Africa I killed a small cobra which contained within it a snake but a few inches shorter than itself; but, as far as I could find out, snakes were not the habitual diet of the African cobras.
  The poisonous snakes use their venom to kill their victims, and also to kill any possible foe which they think menaces them. Some of them are good-tempered, and only fight if injured or seriously alarmed. Others are excessively irritable, and on rare occasions will even attack of their own accord when entirely unprovoked and unthreatened.
  On reaching São Paulo on our southward journey from Rio to Montevideo, we drove out to the “Instituto Serumthérapico,” designed for the study of the effects of the venom of poisonous Brazilian snakes. Its director is Doctor Vital Brazil, who has performed a most extraordinary work and whose experiments and investigations are not only of the utmost value to Brazil but will ultimately be recognized as of the utmost value for humanity at large. I know of no institution of similar kind anywhere. It has a fine modern building, with all the best appliances, in which experiments are carried on with all kinds of serpents, living and dead, with the object of discovering all the properties of their several kinds of venom, and of developing various anti-venom serums which nullify the effects of the different venoms. Every effort is made to teach the people at large by practical demonstration in the open field the lessons thus learned in the laboratory. One notable result has been

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