World reptile day_ take a look at our five most frightening reptiles – wales online


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It’s World Reptile

Day today (October 21), celebrating scaly creatures everywhere, but the cold-blooded killers on this list are best avoided.

We round up our pick of some of nature’s scariest hunters, from man-eating crocodiles to poisonous lizards, these creatures are best kept at arms’ length.

Here are five of the most frightening examples. Rattlesnake Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)

The warning sound of their distinctive tails is one worth heeding. Found in the Americas, these snakes are particularly dangerous due to the hemotoxic nature of their venom, which destroys tissue, affects organs and leads to coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting).

If antivenin is quickly administered fatality rates for humans are relatively low (4%), but victims can expect scarring around the wound and, if untreated, paralysis, breathing problems, internal hemorrhaging and ultimately death can result. Komodo Dragons Komodo Dragons can reach 3 metres (10ft in length)

This largest of lizards is a throwback to the dinosaurs. It is thought to have escaped extinction on Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years due to a lack of predators above it on the food chain. Growing up to 3m (10ft) in length and tipping the scales at 70kg (150lbs) when fully grown, it is capable of speeds of up to 20km/h (12 mph) over short distances and can dive up to 4.5 m (15ft).

As if that isn’t terrifying enough, its saliva is full of bacteria and bitten prey often dies of blood poisoning if it escapes the initial attack.

Komodo Dragons are generally shy of humans but sporadic attacks have been reported and in 2008 an eight-year-old boy bled to death after an attack on Komodo Island.

It’s believed the animal may have been particularly hungry due to a drought that reduced the numbers of deer and pigs that form the dragons’ usual prey.

But the most high-profile attack did not happen in the wild. Film Star Sharon Stone (Basic Instinct, Casino) surprised her then-husband Phil Bronstein with a visit to the Komodo Dragon enclosure at Los Angeles Zoo.

Actress Sharon Stone and her former husband Phil Bronstein

The lizard began licking his white shoes and Bronstein was advised to remove them in case the animal confused his footwear with the white rats it was regularly fed. As Bronstein did so the lizard lunged at him and, as Stone told Time Magazine: “Phil screamed and we heard this crunching sound.”

Bronstein managed to escape over the enclosure wall after freeing himself, but lost the top half of his foot. Crocodile Nile Crocodiles have been known to attack humans

The movie Jaws ensured sharks hold a special place in our nightmares, but in reality the number of deaths from their attacks pales into significance when compared to those killed by crocodiles.

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone they are thought to kill hundreds of people every year in unreported attacks.

The Nile and Saltwater crocodiles are the most common culprits, with swimmers, fishermen and those who regularly venture within three metres of the shore being the most common victims for these opportunistic predators. Reticulated python A reticulated python

These powerful constrictors can grow to staggering sizes. The current record holder for the longest snake held in captivity is reticulated python Medusa, owned by Full Moon Productions in Kansas City USA and measuring 7.67m (25ft 2in) long, who has been known to eat a whole deer in one sitting.

Attacks on humans in the wild are rare, but the increased interest in keeping snakes as domestic pets has led to attacks and fatalities in recent years when specimens have escaped their enclosures and taken people unawares.

For example, in 2008 a woman named Amanda Ruth Black appeared to have been asphyxiated by a 4m (13ft) long pet reticulated python in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, and in 2009, a three-year-old Las Vegas boy was saved from the clutches of an 5.5m (18-foot) snake when his mother stabbed it with a knife. American Alligator Alligators are native to America’s South East

Native to the southeastern United States’ wetlands, marshes and swamps, these impressive reptiles, which can grow up to 4.6m (15ft) in length, are naturally wary of humans, meaning that in the past fatal attacks were extremely rare, usually the result of mistaken identity in cloudy water.

However, in recent years urban sprawl has meant humans and alligators coming into contact more often, with a correlating rise in attacks.

For example, there were nine fatal attacks in the US throughout the 1970s–1990s, but alligators killed 12 people between 2001 and 2007. In May 2006, alligators killed three Florida residents in less than a week.

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