Animal Poisoning

Classification of snakes



A. Colubridae
2. Hydrophidae

Rattle snake
Pit vipers
Russel viper

Elapids: (Cobra, Krait)
  • Secrete neurotoxin- leads to local burning pain, muscular weakness, spreading paralysis, slow labored breathing, death is usually due to respiratory failure
  • Head is small
  • Pupils are round
  • Fangs are short, fixed and grooved
  • Cobra is found everywhere except Europe
  • Cardiotoxin found particularly in cobra venom is toxic to heart
  • Cobra has a hood which on the dorsal side often bears a double or single spectacle mark
  • Cobra grows to a length about 2 m.
  • Cobra venom fatal dose- 15 mg
  • Krait has a single or double white bands across the back and a creamy white belly
  • Kraits are nocturnal in habit
  • Kraits venom fatal dose- 6 mg

  • Secrete vasculotoxic venom- intense local pain, swelling, ecchymosis and discoloration of surrounding tissue, oozing of bloody serum rapid feeble pulse, hemorrhage from natural orifice, cold and clammy skin, loss of consciousness, death from shock
  • Consists of pit vipers and pit less vipers
  • Pits are situated between the eye and nostrils
  • Head is big and triangular
  • Pupil is vertical
  • Fangs are long, movable and canalized
  • Can bite through clothes
  • Pit vipers are seldom dangerous but the russel viper, which is pitless viper, is dangerous.

Sea snake

  • Secrete myotoxic venom- generalized pain and stiffness, brown colored urine due to myoglobinuria, hyperkalaemic symptom, death due to respiratory failure
  • Small head and flat tail
  • Found in the vicinity of sea coast
  • Most of them do not bite



  • Belly scales are large and cover entire belly
  • Fangs are hollow like hypodermic needles
  • Tail is compressed
  • Two long fangs are present
  • Usually nocturnal
  • Head scales are small with enlarged central row of scales on back


  • Small, do not cover the entire belly

  • Fangs are short and solid

  • Tail is not much compressed
  • Several small teeth
  • Not so
  • Head scales are large

Delirient poison

Dhatura (thorn apple)
  • Solanaceae family- flowers are bell shaped, fuits are spherical with spinous projections
  • All parts of plants are poisonous, but seed and fruits are more
  • Active principle is hyoscine, traces of atropine, so it paralyses the parasympathetic system
  • S/S- dry mouth, dry face, restlessness, confusion, delirium, patient may become noisy or violent, hallucination (usually visual), amnesia, convulsion and death, tachycardia, dysrrhythmias, raised body temperatures.
  • Treatment- stomach wash with warm water and KMnO4, oxygen, catheterization for urinary retention, cold water sponging for pyrexia, i/v diazepam for convulsion, physostigmine
  • MLI- is a stupefying agent used for robbery, rape, and kidnapping; may be accidental, suicidal and homicidal
  • Fatal dose- 100 to 150 seeds crushed, 60 mg alkaloid
  • Fatal period within 24 hours

Atropa Balladona:

  • Also called deadly night shade
  • All part of plant are poisonous
  • Contain alkaloids, atropine, and hyoscymine
  • Treatment, sign and symptoms and postmortem findings same as dhatura
  • Fatal dose 10-15 berries, 100-125 mg atropine by mouth, 3mg by injection
  • Fatal period 24 hours

Cannabis indica or sativa
  • All parts are poisonous
  • Drug is used as “Bhang” (dry leaves and fruiting shoot, least potent), “Ganja” (flowering top of the female plant), “Charas or Hasis” (exudates obtained from leaves and stem)
  • First stimulates and depresses the vital centre

  • never causes death and its dangers are denied by many, though long-term users may develop psychotic states
  • and there is some evidence of genetic defects in the offspring of users

  • S/S- anxiety, excitement, euphoria, talkativeness, laughter, increased appetite, hallucinations, unproductive cough, dry mouth, run-amock (homicidal tendency),finally stage of narcosis (drowsiness, staggering gait, dilated pupil, rarely death)
  • Treatment- stomach wash, saline purgatives, symptomatic treatments
  • MLI- dangerous when driving, stupefying agent, run-amock, sadhus and pujaris use it
  • Fatal dose- Charas: 2gm/kg, Ganja: 8gm/kg, Bhang: 10gm/kg
  • Fatal period: 12hrs to 19 days


  • Derived from the dry leaves of cocoa plant
  • Colorless, odorless, crystalline substance with a bitter taste
  • Administered through the oral mucus membrane, injection, inhalation
  • Ulceration of the nasal septum is always recorded as a complication of long-term nasal abuse of cocaine but this is, in fact, a rare phenomenon.
  • Cocaine produces hypertension, which (like amphetamines) may lead to cerebral bleeding. Dilated pupils hyperpyrexia, marked sweating and confusion may lead to coma and death from either respiratory depression or cardiac arrhythmia.
  • more potent form of cocaine called ‘crack’ has appeared
  • S/S- numbness of mouth, pyrexia, dilated pupil, increased sexual desire, happy and euphoric, delirium, tachycardia, tachypnoea, nausea, vomiting, muscular twitching, convulsion, collapse and death.
  • Treatment- stomach wash with warm water and KMnO4, symptomatic treatment
  • Postmortem finding- lungs edematous, signs of asphyxia or cardiac failure
  • MLI- aphrodisiac, used by prostitutes to constrict vagina, accidental, drug of addiction
  • Fatal dose- 1gm orally,
  • Fatal period- 2min to 4 hours


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