One of my roommates is a corn snake named Buddy. He’s not venomous. But he’s a very private individual and really likes his space.

Blair Perry.

Buddy and I talked about your question with my friend Blair Perry. He’s a biologist at Washington State University. He’s an expert on snakes and venom.

Perry told me antivenom doesn’t contain actual snake venom. It’s made with antibodies to snake venom.

Antibodies are proteins. They’re part of your immune system. They travel in your blood to fight germs or dangerous molecules—like those in venom—that could hurt you. Sometimes we get vaccines to boost our antibodies so they’re ready when something harmful shows up.

But that’s not enough for snake venom.

“With a snake bite, we get so many venom molecules injected all at once,” Perry said. “Plus, they act really, really fast. There’s not enough time for the body to produce those antibodies. Even if we had antibodies from a vaccine, it probably wouldn’t be enough to respond quickly and to a large enough degree.”

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