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Meet the Elapids: Of 18 snake families, this one's the most lethal. Talk about a vicious bunch! (ScienceWorld Miniposter).

DEATH ADDER Unlike other elapids, this stocky Australian snake has long-hinged fangs that fold back against the roof of the mouth within a sheath of skin. At night, the snake wriggles its tail like a little worm to lure small animals within striking distance. By day, death adders rest in sand or grass--hard to see, but easy to step on.

COBRA A snake charmer's favorite, the slender Indian cobra inhabits forests, fields, and urban areas in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. When alarmed, it spreads a very wide hood.

SEA SNAKE They prey on fish and eels in coastal waters of Australia and Southeast Asia. With flattened tails and valve-like nostrils that keep out seawater, sea snakes have evolved into fearsome swimmers, but writhe helplessly on land.

SPITTING COBRA In spitting cobras' fangs venom holes face slightly forward, letting them shoot blinding venom into the eyes of a predator up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) away. It's purely a defensive tactic, but "it adds a whole new dimension to snake catching!" Joe Slowinski says.

CORAL SNAKE Coral snakes are the only elapids of North and South America. Averaging 51 cm (20 in.) in length, corals' bright bands of color alert predators: "I'm poisonous!" These secretive, nocturnal snakes spend much of their time in cracks and crevices.

GREEN MAMBA Long, slender green mambas hunt, sleep, even lay eggs in the forest trees of eastern Africa. Given the chance, these graceful snakes will flee from trouble. But when trapped, a mamba will shoot out like a green arrow, striking wildly as it goes. Mambas can inject more venom per bite than cobras.
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Publication:Science World
Date:Sep 3, 2001
Words:271
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