Welt-der-gifte: The world of poison

Hi everyone,

Hope you are all well in these troubling times,

Would just like to draw attention to a very interesting and unusual place in the Atlas that hasn’t got much attention but really does deserve much more.

Welt-der-gifte in Austria is run by a colleague and friend of mine Doctor Nils Kley who created this small zoo that focuses and showcases venomous and toxic species of snake, lizards, spiders, scorpions, fish and even plants and fungi.

They do some wonderful work in research, environmental education and training and given how fascinating the topic of poison and toxins in the natural world are (and how useful they are for things such as human medicine) it really is a novel and great concept.

I’m sure that Nils would be ok with answering any questions so if anyone wants to ask anything about Welt-der-gifte and venomous / poisonous plants and animals fire away.


Thank you for the introduction @Monsieur_Mictlan

@all Feel free to ask if you have any questions. :slight_smile:

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Just musing. If I were to name a top 100 literature pieces for me, one would certainly be Rappacini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. http://www.columbia.edu/itc/english/f1124y-001/resources/Rappaccinis_Daughter.pdf

And curious places top 100 would include https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/alnwick-poison-garden

The potential uses and perhaps abuses of the world’s natural toxins, and considering how we may gradually adapt to some things and adapt some to our use are all fascinating. I’ve had glancing experience with a number of natural chemical defenses, and near misses with others. Off the top of my head: cow-killer wasp (velvet ant) sting, saddleback caterpillar, two different plants called stinging nettle, siphonophore lashing, swimming through an invisible waft of unidentified larval hydra, and walking under a manchineel tree in light rain. Done a little amateur entheogenic research into southeastern Native American Black Drink (which includes datura) and fish-fuddle tree… Ah, sorry, the memory both fails and intrigues. A bee-keeper patient lamented the lack of institutional bees to sting her for pain alleviation in her joints.

Places I don’t want to visit include the Atacama area with the arsenic tolerating population. Or the areas of West Central Africa with the foot burrowing worms that are actually helping people with Krohn’s disease by triggering our bodies own immune defenses. And my 60 year fascination with the fact that sickle cell patients don’t get malaria. Is it blood chemistry that’s altered, or is it the deformed cells that prevent it?

There are large numbers of introduced venomous reptiles, poisonous plants, and even shocking fish in my state of Florida. The state already had enough dangers before all these came for a visit and overstayed their welcome. A snake venom farm in south Florida got hit by one of our little hurricanes some years back creating a huge surge in wild herps. Purveyors of unusual aquatic creatures and of dangerous reptiles come to Florida to wild catch introduced species.

Of course we need much more research into these biochemical defenses. We need more farms milking the glands for antivenin. We need fewer blockheads trying to handle pygmy rattlers on their own.

I’m just trying to imagine a use for manchineel. Some portion of its skin burning chemistry might be useful in the lab. Right now I’m thinking it belongs in a Rappacini’s Daughter’s garden in the tropics, perhaps along with the velvet ant.

Oh, sea urchin spines in my foot were pretty bad, and intermittently painful for several months, but one pretty little velvet ant had me on my knees for several days, continual pain alleviated only by ice baths. I’m sure there’s an app for that.

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