Promoting co-existence between humans and venomous snakes through increasing the herpetological knowledge base

11 Nov 2021

Snakebite incidence at least partly depends on the biology of the snakes involved. However, studies of snake biology have been largely neglected in favour of anthropic factors, with the exception of taxonomy, which has been recognised for some decades to affect the design of antivenoms. Despite this, within-species venom variation and the unpredictability of the correlation with antivenom cross-reactivity has continued to be problematic. Meanwhile, other aspects of snake biology, including behaviour, spatial ecology and activity patterns, distribution, and population demography, which can contribute to snakebite mitigation and prevention, remain underfunded and understudied. Here, we review the literature relevant to these aspects of snakebite and illustrate how demographic, spatial, and behavioural studies can improve our understanding of why snakebites occur and provide evidence for prevention strategies. We identify the large gaps that remain to be filled and urge that, in the future, data and relevant metadata be shared openly via public data repositories so that studies can be properly replicated and data used in future meta-analyses.