(1992, California) Snakes flick their forked tongues in the air to "smell" the world, collecting molecules and analyzing them by pressing thir tongue tips tips them into small olfactory pits. An inebriated twenty-year-old man, apparently unaware of this biological fact, took umbrage when a wild rattlesnake stuck out its tounge at him. Tit for tat! He held the rattler in front of his face and stuck his tongue out right back at it. The snake expressed its displeasure at this turn of events by biting the conveniently offered body part. The toxic venom swelled the man's face and throat, choking him to death.
Experts debate which species of venomous snake is most dangerous. It depends on how irritable the snake is, the toxicity of its venom, whether it delivers the venom reliably, and how likely the snake is to come into contact with humans.
Rattlesnakes certainly rank among the most dangerous of snakes. They often live in close proximity to humans, and some species can be quite irritable, particularly when they are cornered. Rattlesnakes have long, folding fangs which deliver venom deeply into the body. However, some rattlers fail to inject venom into the bite as frequently as 25% of the time. Young rattlesnakes are more likely to deliver a full load of venom, and are therefore more dangerous than their elders.
For those who value their looks as much as their life: remember, rattlesnake venom is disfiguring as well as deadly.