Name your poison…

June 29, 2011

Village bites into snake business

ZISIQIAO VILLAGE, China (Reuters) – This sleepy village nestled in the heart of vast farmland in China’s eastern Zhejiang province hides a deadly secret.

A step into the homes of any of the farming families here brings visitors eye-to-eye with thousands of some of the world’s most feared creatures — snakes, many of them poisonous.

This is incorrect. Snakes are venomous, NOT poisonous.

Poisons are substances that are toxic if swallowed or inhaled. Venoms are generally not toxic if swallowed, and must be injected under the skin (by snakes, spiders, etc.) into the tissues normally protected by skin in order to be toxic.

I know it seems a fine point but it is an important distinction, in science major differences are often shown only by word choice. I’m sure that Reuters with its long history and reputation for accuracy will appreciate the distinction.

J M B.

We have dealt with this issue here several times in the past. We shouldn’t be repeating the error: GBU Editor

Yang Hongchang, boss of  a snake rearing company holds
a snake at a snake farm in Zisiqiao village, Zhejiang Province June 15, 2011. REUTERS/Aly Song

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