Oddly enough - Viper gives science lessons added bite

Headlines in the US can be baffling. Take the tale of two pupils at a Texas high school who were recently "bitten by a moccasin".

British readers may wonder how a soft shoe could turn vicious, but nature experts will know the stories refer to the water moccasin, a venomous type of pit-viper.

Two students at Big Sandy High had ignored their science teacher and picked up the viper, which they assumed was a harmless rat snake. When it bit them, their teacher took the pupils to hospital, where they were successfully treated.

More interesting was the reaction from snake-lovers across America. Some were shocked that the students could be so stupid. "Mistake one for a rat snake? That would be like someone mistaking an English bulldog for a whippet!" one said.

Others worried it might put teachers off bringing "rattlers" and other snakes to school. "When I taught at a high school, the principal threatened to make me leave my snakes at home," one said.

"I told him if that happened, they would have to find another science teacher. He saw my logic, and my snakes stayed ..."

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