Thursday, March 18, 2010


I've been having a love affair with snakes for longer then I care to admit, I have everything from rattlesnakes to cobras, tree vipers and the list goes on and on. Many of the snakes that live with me and my wife Janice were only a few inches long when they arrived here and were scared to death. Patience, constant attention, keeping them clean and fed soon gave way to trust and healthy happy animals who have everything here, they would have in the wild, without the worries of being shot or eaten by a larger predator. From 6AM to 11PM and sometimes later, we are here caring for our little friends, making sure the temperature is ideal, the humidity is correct, the enclosures are spotless etc. Many of the venomous snakes are so calm, I pick them up and sit them on a table while I clean their tank, no hooks or tongs, just me. There are a select few, that will never calm down, why? I can't tell you but they have to ride a hook when being moved or while working with them. Even with the calm snakes, the possibility of a bite always exists, when you least expect it, bang! your a bite victim.
Several years ago, and I mean several, I was tagged by an eastern diamondback rattlesnake, a lot of people think that an eastern rattler is not in the same league as an Indian cobra! let me tell you, you are right, an Eastern Diamondback, can be a whole lot worse. The EDB is one of the most dangerous snakes in the entire world, the venom is potent, the speed of the snake is all but a blur, the fangs give a true intramuscular bite, the amount of venom in an adult is just below the quantity of a gaboon viper and it can inject enough venom, in less then 1 second to put you away for good.
I was bitten on the top of the foot and my leg was black and blue from the tip of my toe, past my groin, within 24 hours, I was unable to walk, I had to use crutches for over a month. The pain was so bad, I was chewing roxycodone like M&M's. Had I not been a self immunizer for several years prior to the bite, I would never had made it.
The past six months or so have been a real enlightening period for me, I get two calls a week from individuals thinking of immunizing him or herself against snake bite, I ask what type of snakes they work with and the reply is "I don't have any"! Why ,would anyone want to start such a painful and down right dangerous procedure as this, for no apparent reason, is beyond me. The chances of the average person becoming a snake bite victim are up there with winning the grand lottery. The truth is, someone saw something about this on TV or in a movie and it looked cool, believe me, if you try it once, you will never do it the 2ND time, I guarantee you that much. The difference between injecting yourself with a dose of venom and a snake biting you are ZERO, it's the same thing. You can build up a resistance to the venom of the snakes you received the venom from, different snakes can still zap you, that's bad news #1. Bad news #2 is that the effects of the venom on the surrounding tissue near the injection or bite site ,still receive nearly 90% of the harmful effects the venom was designed to deliver. #3, PAIN, I only inject with viper and pit viper venom, that type of venom destroys tissue and muscle, you melt, to put it in plain English, melting hurts like all Hell. No amount of immunity will ever stop the pain and scaring at the site. How bad is the pain? Ever been kneed by a big, I mean a really big, mad guy and then passed a kidney stone? Your not even in the park yet, the pain is worse, it brings tears to my eyes and I'm an old hand at this.
Most Herpetologists who immunize, use Elapid venom, cobra, mamba, coral snake venom, this venom acts on the peripheral nervous system, it causes little pain and works well. They do this because the legitimate ones work with Elapids, I don't, Faith is my Egyptian cobra and she is a pet, I have never taken a drop of venom from her so I don't need to be immunized against her. I work with vipers and pit vipers, they are the ones I am concerned with. If I ever stop working with them, I will stop immunizing, there will be no further need so why endure the pain.
Messing with this stuff in a syringe, is playing Russian Roulette, The human body is a funny machine, at any given time, you can have a reaction to the venom, the more you expose yourself to the venom, the better the chance for a reaction. Anaphylaxis can kill in five minutes, your throat swells shut, you can't breath, your Blood pressure drops to literally nothing, you pass out and never wake up. Are you prepared for that? I never inject with out my wife being near by, I have the injectable adrenalin, I have Levarterenol bitarate to get the pressure back up, I have the injectable benadryl and the steroids, but most of all, my wife knows what to do, should this happen. I did not get up one morning and decide to start this, I talked with the best, then I talked with others who knew what they were talking about, in all, it took a years research prior to my first shot. I'm telling you the truth, playing with venomous snakes and injecting their venom, is not as exciting as it may sound, it's a very serious decision.
I am not going to talk to anyone for hours ,and try and persuade them to find another way to get their kicks, I need all the time I can get and I sure won't help anyone start down this road by selling them venom, that just is not going to happen. All I am going to say is "use your head, think, any idiot can stick a needle in his or her arm, it takes someone special, to make it through this life with out a crutch or a gimmick, be a man, not a copy-cat, it's already been done, do something new and original.