Monday, January 20, 2014

Content Highlights - Indian Cobra (Naja naja)

Did you know that the poison of the Indian Cobra is used in research, and for manufacturing analgesics and anti-cancer medications?

Indian Cobra (Naja naja) from BHL.

The Indian Cobra is a poisonous snake occupying large areas of the Middle East, from India through China and Indonesia. Indian natives call it nag, naga, pambo, gokhura or nagara havu. The snake is typically over one meter long, with a hood over its neck vertebrae which  it inflates when threatened. Its body is variously colored, from creamy white through brown and all the way to black. Sometimes, the Cobra has a typical half-ring patterns on the back of its neck.

Indian Cobra (Naja naja) by Kamalnv from EOL.

Indian cobra lives anywhere it can find suitable shelter, even in areas occupied by humans. Cobras do not normally attack humans when not threatened, except during mating season. When meeting a cobra, the best strategy is to remain calm, since cobras react aggressively to rapid movements. The cobra's poison, similarly to that of other rat snakes (genus Elaphe), has primarily neurotoxic effects.

See Poisonous Nature for more information. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Content Highlights - Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina)

Did you know that silverfish belongs to an ancient order of insects (Zygentoma), which appeared on the Earth in the Carboniferous period (360-300 million years ago)? Or that silverfish do not need to drink, because they absorb water from moist air through a specially adapted anus?

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) by Miroslav Deml from EOL.

Silverfish are miniscule wingless insects, whose body is covered with silvery scales. They are mostly  nocturnal, when they seek out humid areas (bathrooms, toilets, basements), or places where there is plenty of food and shelter (bakeries, pastry-shops). Don't worry, the presence of silverfish in your home does not indicate lack of cleanliness, but more likely abundant hiding places. In small numbers they are essentially harmless, but they can cause problems when they multiply.

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) from BHL.

Silverfish avoid light and can often be spotted trying to hide in a corner after the lights are turned on in a room. They live on substances containing protein and saccharides, like paper, books, tapestries, cotton, leather, silk, flour, sugar, cereals and glue. Silverfish also live in nature, usually dwelling under rocks, fallen leaves, bark and such. They lay up the three eggs at a time in tiny cracks and can live up to six years.

Learn more about silverfish on Nature at your Home. Stay tuned!