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Old 01-25-04, 11:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul-2003
Location: Ontario
Posts: 1,176
Well, most of the differences have all been alluded to already, so I will give you a quick taxonomy lesson of the class Squamata, specifically Serpentes [keep in mind that I gleaned this information from one of my texts which is about 3 years old (plenty of time for taxonomists to change everything)]:
Serpentes is a suborder of the order Caudata.
There are three superfamilies in the classification Serpentes; namely, Typhlopoidea (Scolecophidia), Henophidia (Boidea), and Xenophidia (Colubroidea = Caenophidia).
There are then three families in the superfamily Typhlopoidea (Scolecophidia) and they are: Anomalepidae, Typhlopidae, and Leptotyphlopidae/Glauconiidae (dawn blind snakes, blind snakes, and slender blind snakes, respectively).
There are then ten families in the superfamily Henophidia (Boidea) and they are: Aniliidae/Ilysiidae, Anomochilidae, Boidae, Bolyeridae, Cylindrophiidae, Loxocemidae, Tropidophiidae, Uropeltidae, and Xenopeltidae.
Finally, there are six families in the superfamily Xenophidia and they are: Acrochordidae, Atractaspididae, Colubridae, Elapidae, Hydrophiidae, and Viperidae.
So, your corn snake and hognose are both in the Colubridae family. However, your Corn snake is in the genus Elaphe and your hognose is in the genus Heterodon. You can see that these two animals are more closely related to the vipers and the elapids than the boas and pythons. Your ball python is not only in a different family than your corn snake and hognose, but it is also in a different superfamily. These animals are more distantly related on a phylogenetic tree.
Animals in the genus Heterodon have fixed teeth and the "venom" delivery mechanism differs from that of the vipers and elapids I believe, BGF can likely correct me if I am wrong but I believe the toxin is delivered through a groove in the teeth. The venom of the hognose is a true venom, however it is primarily rich in enzymes and neurotoxins are only present in low concentrations. Apparently, venom evolved only once in advanced snake evolution and it was very early on. Heterodon do not have "toxic saliva", it is a proper venom.
Hope this helps,
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