If the snake in YouTube’s latest viral video could talk (and were still alive), it’d probably take a line from Mark Twain: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” After it bit Israeli model Orit Fox’s fake breast during a photoshoot in Tel Aviv, it apparently died of silicone poisoning—which is a ridiculous rumor at best, though you can be the judge of that:
The snake did die, but it doesn’t take a snake biologist to explain that it probably wasn’t from silicone poisoning. I went ahead and talked to a snake biologist—University of Sydney scientist Rick Shine—anyway, who wrote in an email: “I’m skeptical—it’s hard to believe that it could have ingested any significant amount of silicone from the bite shown in the video clip.” And even if the snake did get a mouthful of silicone, there isn’t any evidence that medical-grade silicone can poison a snake, he added. (Though he did point out—with a laugh—that some snakes do eat mammals, and this one went straight for mammaries…)
With no official snake autopsy (shucks), we don’t know the true cause of death, but Universidad Central de Venezuela snake biologist Jesus Rivas thinks that it’s probably what happened to the snake after the bite that killed it. As he told me via email, “The film does not go far enough but it seems like they could have man-handled the snake a bit too hard to get her to release (with their hooking teeth releasing is not easy) and they might have killed the snake in that process.” Certainly more likely than silicone poisoning.
As for Fox, she was rushed to a hospital, jabbed with a tetanus shot, and left a few hours later. No word yet on the fate of the snake carcass.
DISCOVER: Snake Oil Salve
80beats: Poisonous Seeds Can Be Turned Into Jet Fuel
80beats: Parasitic Wasps Got Their Poison From an Ancient Virus
Not Rocket Science: Immune snakes outrun toxic newts in evolutionary arms races