Question about holding hot snakes.

Dedicated exclusively to field herping.

Moderator: Scott Waters

James1617
Posts: 68
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 10:27 am
Location: Kentucky

Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by James1617 »

How hard would it be to become one of those very few people that milk venomous snakes for the venom. Which is used to make anti-venom or research.


Also I know someone out there is going to think I am crazy for wanting to become someone that has such a dangerous job, But someone has to do it no matter how dangerous it is because anti-venom saves lives and if there isn't any anti-venom available imagine how many people would die.

User avatar
justinm
Posts: 3423
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:26 am
Location: Illinois
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by justinm »

If you're serious, contact KRZ, Venomdoc or WW on this very forum. It will take years of school and hard work to do this legitimately.

James1617
Posts: 68
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 10:27 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by James1617 »

I am almost sure I want to be a snake milker. I have held the 2 venomous snake species in my area many many times. <<< Call me crazy or what ever. I just have to wait until I am a few years older.

User avatar
Alex Pepper
Posts: 44
Joined: July 23rd, 2010, 8:26 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Alex Pepper »

Also, I'm not at all trying to shoot down your asperations by any means but you should know that it is a fact that all the venom needs of every major toxicological and pharmaceutical company there is are already satifised by the few big venom produces, such as MedToxin, and there simply is not a demand in the market for private venom extractors.

User avatar
TimCole
Posts: 17
Joined: March 2nd, 2011, 11:48 am

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by TimCole »

In my opinion...very few people have a legitimate reason to "hold" a venomous snake.

That's what handling tools are for.

James1617
Posts: 68
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 10:27 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by James1617 »

True but you never know when one of those pro's may get a lethal bite that can't be helped by the anti-venom. Also I have no legit reason to hold a venomous snake. Just the fact that I want to. I know the risks and the dangers involved. It is just something I choose to do.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kelly Mc »

Are you Blanket Jackson?

User avatar
reptilist
Posts: 653
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:30 am
Location: Clifton, Arizona

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by reptilist »

There are sometimes internships available in the field you seek. Of course, your reputation for responsible and safe hot work would have to be impeccable.

James1617
Posts: 68
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 10:27 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by James1617 »

Who is blanket jackson?

I know how to hold Copperheads and Timbers but that is the only 2 types of hot snakes I have held. I do the same thing everytime I know if you make one small mistake it result in a bite.

User avatar
Daryl Eby
Posts: 963
Joined: June 27th, 2010, 12:27 pm
Location: Terlingua / Marfa, Texas
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Daryl Eby »

James1617 wrote:I know how to hold Copperheads and Timbers but that is the only 2 types of hot snakes I have held. I do the same thing everytime I know if you make one small mistake it result in a bite.
Why are you holding them?

As for "knowing how to hold" venomous. I would argue that perhaps you don't. They should only be held when truly necessary. When necessary you should select the least restrictive and least dangerous (for you and the snake) option that accomplishes the required task.

Here are some basic guidelines for field work. These are by no means comprehensive or binding -just my suggestions:
  • No contact: Most situations.
    Snake hook: Simple, short relocation (such as off the road) or repositioning (for talks or glamor photos).
    Snake tongs (often paired with hook): Short relocation or repositioning where greater control is needed.
    Snake hook or tongs and screw top bucket: Transport or short term holding, such as for relocation.
    Snake hook or tongs and clear tube: Maximum control for collecting field data or conducting lab work.
    Pinning and holding behind head: High risk handling. Sometimes required for venom collection or veterinary work.
I'm glad to see your enthusiasm for the hobby. I hope you don't take my comments too negatively. I'm just trying to offer some friendly advice.

Terry's (reptilist) comment that "your reputation for responsible and safe hot work would have to be impeccable" is key. If you REALLY want a career in milking venomous snake, you'll need to demonstrate professionalism by never handling snakes unsafely or unnecessarily.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by muskiemagnet »

James1617 wrote:Who is blanket jackson?

I know how to hold Copperheads and Timbers but that is the only 2 types of hot snakes I have held. I do the same thing everytime I know if you make one small mistake it result in a bite.

i personally have never touched a hot, and i have no intention. i'll chalk that up to intelligence. you mentioned timbers and coppers. i have no experience with coppers, but timbers are as calm as they get. i'm guessing that there are plenty of spastic hots that would be a pain in the ass, let alone extremely dangerous. good luck with you aspirations, but you may want to ask yourself why. if there is any inclination towards machismo, don't go that route. good luck.

-ben

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2074
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Mike VanValen »

At least the guy is asking and not posting youtube videos of him tubing crotes for no reason. Vipers are one thing, but elapids are scary, scary snakes and you have to really have a personal belief that the benefits outweigh the risks.

User avatar
Jeff
Posts: 591
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Location: Louisiana

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Jeff »

I knew a guy who would pin and handle most venomous snakes that he encountered. We would get out of the car to shoo a cottonmouth off the road, and he would pin it and pick it up, look it over, then toss it off the road. He wasn't trying to impress anyone, just felt the need to put his hands on the snake, even though we had long-handled hooks His name was Joe Slowinski.

Your altruistic motive is admirable, and I recommend that your first move, before handling more venomous snakes, should be to locate a lab that will accept vials of your secretions. There are likely specific requirements about hygiene, safety protocols, and facility structure and equipment. I hope you are successful in your efforts -- someday you may indirectly save my life.

Last point: if you continue to handle copperheads and timbers by hand, you will get bit -- everyone does (four times for me).

So, good luck.

Jeff

User avatar
Chunkhead68
Posts: 40
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 5:30 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Chunkhead68 »

I thought this was a joke or someone just trying to get the forum riled up.

User avatar
fins72
Posts: 79
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 8:02 pm
Location: South Florida

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by fins72 »

Just curious, is this "aspiration" due to The Venom King article in the latest Men's Journal magazine?

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by VanAR »

I knew a guy who would pin and handle most venomous snakes that he encountered. We would get out of the car to shoo a cottonmouth off the road, and he would pin it and pick it up, look it over, then toss it off the road. He wasn't trying to impress anyone, just felt the need to put his hands on the snake, even though we had long-handled hooks His name was Joe Slowinski.
And look how that turned out :roll:

If you handle hot herps, sooner or later, you will be envenomated. When antivenom is scarce and costs upwards of $2000 per vial even at the best of times, and when even a mild bite from something like a horridus could require 10-20 vials, plus the costs of hospital stays and other treatments, and when insurance companies may not cover your bite when they figure out how it happened, so you or your family will have to put up 50-100 grand simply to pay your medical bills, in addition to the potential for permanent health consequences or even death, why not learn a little thing called self control?

Many snakes are milked using electrical stimuli after anesthesia. Learn how to do that and be a professional, and forget about handling hots "just because you want to". If you're smart, you'll thank me later.

Van

User avatar
jordo
Posts: 93
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 4:48 am
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by jordo »

Seems like a bit of a touchy topic so please don't take my question the wrong way.
It's making my wonder how everyone on here gets such nice photos without handling the snakes. I can understand that species like rattlesnakes just get defensive and can be photographed in situ or hooked a short distance to open ground for photos, but do you have any species in the US that just continually try to escape and how do you deal with them?

User avatar
Soopaman
Posts: 924
Joined: March 18th, 2012, 6:34 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Soopaman »

I'll continue to echo the sentiments already expressed in this thread. Don't handle hots, even if you think you want to handle them professionally in the future. If you go that route, you'll be able to get the proper training you need in order to "safely" pursue that career. As an aside, they don't get paid very well. I'm sure the fact that you're able to provide venom for research and medicine is "reward enough," but realistically, such dangerous work conditions should have some better pay.

As far as hots in the field:

The risk of envenomation is not worth it. If you're not worried about yourself, at least be considerate of your family and friends who do worry about you.
jordo wrote:Seems like a bit of a touchy topic so please don't take my question the wrong way.
It's making my wonder how everyone on here gets such nice photos without handling the snakes. I can understand that species like rattlesnakes just get defensive and can be photographed in situ or hooked a short distance to open ground for photos, but do you have any species in the US that just continually try to escape and how do you deal with them?
Jordo, this can be done with a hook to place/move the snake to the position you want. Also, letting the snake run over the hook and dragging it back can get it tired out briefly and it will sit still for a photograph. I really don't consider this handling as your hands never actually need to touch the subject.

That said, my photographs of 2 out of 3 coral snakes I've found have come from directly handling them, albeit protected by Hexarmor gloves which I believe are excellent protection from elapids, though I do not trust them with viperids.

Edit: I would like to add that my experience with viperids is really limited to copperheads and cottonmouths on the road. We don't a lot of the same in situ experiences as some of the more mountainous regions or the Northeast. I've found a few in situ of both and occasionally take a photograph. However, if you're out cruising, a night can net between 12-20 cottonmouths in some areas I herp (4-8 copperheads in others). If you like to see them in one piece and not squished, it's a couple seconds and a bit of prodding with the hook to get them off the road.

User avatar
Mike VanValen
Posts: 2074
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:41 pm
Location: Connecticut
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Mike VanValen »

I only have experience with copperheads and timbers in the Northeast, and both of those species are quite docile and will sit still and allow for photos. I've never had to hook or otherwise disturb either species. (and never will) And on the occasion where a timber got bothered and slipped away, so be it.

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by VanAR »

It's making my wonder how everyone on here gets such nice photos without handling the snakes. I can understand that species like rattlesnakes just get defensive and can be photographed in situ or hooked a short distance to open ground for photos, but do you have any species in the US that just continually try to escape and how do you deal with them?
Pit vipers typically just sit there. Even really hot/feisty species like prairie rattlers or mohave rattlers will often sit motionless in situ, and those that don't will usually coil up in the classic S posture if you hook/tong them a few times.

Corals and gilas are the only American venomous species that usually won't sit still on their own, in my experience. Gilas you can't touch, but they're slow and it's usually easy to get a photo of them if you just get in front of them. Corals are often small enough that you can hook them under a hat or a plastic box and let them sit for a few minutes. When you take the cover off, they will often just sit there for a few seconds or minutes. Also, with repeated harassment, many corals adopt a defensive pose where their head is hidden/protected under their coils, but their tail is looped and raised, presumably as a fake "head".

The nonvens you just grab and do what you want with/get bit. They are much more likely to try to make a dash in the open like the Aussie elapids do.

Van

User avatar
jordo
Posts: 93
Joined: July 15th, 2010, 4:48 am
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by jordo »

Yeah, I use a similar technique putting them under a bowl or using gloves for juveniles. Can't wait to get up to the USA and experience the difference in behaviour, we don't have a hell of a lot of vens that sit defensively down here.

User avatar
mywan
Posts: 195
Joined: August 31st, 2012, 3:24 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by mywan »

Even the nonvenomous snakes are usually pretty easy to get into a defensive, rather than escape, posture. Just block their escape a few times and they'll often pose quiet nicely for photos. Learning these behavioral modes and how to trigger them often makes it easy to make mean snakes look tame.

User avatar
Don Becker
Posts: 3331
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:21 am
Location: Iowa
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Don Becker »

I get the impression that you want to milk snakes as an excuse to handle them, which isn't a very good reason.

User avatar
jonathan
Posts: 3679
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by jonathan »

jordo wrote:Seems like a bit of a touchy topic so please don't take my question the wrong way.
It's making my wonder how everyone on here gets such nice photos without handling the snakes. I can understand that species like rattlesnakes just get defensive and can be photographed in situ or hooked a short distance to open ground for photos, but do you have any species in the US that just continually try to escape and how do you deal with them?
I've never handled a dangerously venomous snake in my life. I don't even hook them - for me it's just been unnecessary. I think my shots are still fine.

At no point did I touch any of the following snakes. No one would mistake me for a good photographer (and I almost never go out looking for crotes), but this just shows the sorta range that's available if you just let the snake do its thing. In fact, some of the shots are ones that I never could have gotten if I had touched them:


Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

James1617
Posts: 68
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 10:27 am
Location: Kentucky

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by James1617 »

For me it has nothing to do with being macho or brave. I agree that holding a hot snake is not wise or safe and that there is no reason why anyone should but it is just something that I want to do. I can't just look at a snake and not hold it. Holding it in a tube doesn't do it for me either. Also it isn't like I just reach down and put my fingers anywhere. I know they can't be too far back or too close. Because if your finger is to close ithe snake can throw a fang and get your finger like in that video of that guy getting bitten by that eastern diamond back. If your fingers are too far then the snake can move its head and get you then as well.

User avatar
Jeff
Posts: 591
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Location: Louisiana

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Jeff »

James

You've just convinced me that the inevitable bite you receive will come sooner than later. I held numerous venomous snakes before getting bitten, and was quite confident in my abilities until....

A Ridgenose Rattlesnake had fangs that were longer than I expected, and jabbed one under my thumbnail while I had a 'professional' grip on it.

A big Prairie Rattler got me on the back of a middle finger when I was dropping it into a bag. I had also been holding it at the perfect distance and grip behind the head, but it twisted when I let go, and it caught me.

I was holding a Northern Copperhead, also with expert precision, but it wrapped its body around my arm and began torquing such that it was nearly twisting its head off. I tried to unwrap its body from my arm, but that distracted me enough that it was able to sink a fang deep into my finger.

Your last message made no mention of milking, so I guess that was an ephemeral notion.

All I can say is, stay close to the car and call the emergency room so that they will be ready when you arrive.

Jeff

stlouisdude
Posts: 430
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:30 pm
Location: St Louis, MO / Hartford, CT

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by stlouisdude »

Personally, I have as little direct physical contact with venomous snakes as I can get away with. Our North American species probably won't kill you, but you'll be miserable for a while. If you want to handle venomous snakes knowing you will end up in pain, at the ER, and wondering if you'll live or die, well that's your decision but you've been warned. On the other hand, if you're careful, have little direct contact with them (use tools or simply observe), you will probably avoid that scene altogether. The Choice is yours.

User avatar
DaveR
Posts: 230
Joined: October 9th, 2010, 11:00 am
Location: Rochester, NY

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by DaveR »

James...You ARE aware that your need to hold every snake you see is not in any way beneficial to that snake, and is (in all probability) a traumatic and harmful experience for the animal?? I handled hots for a long time before I realized that my actions were selfish, dangerous, and had no legitimate purpose. When I realized that I was potentially harming the very animals I purported to "love", I changed my approach to my avocation. I keep a few cb/cb animals in a small collection - no hots. I rarely catch or molest animals in the wild. As a matter of fact, I don't think I even touched a wild herp all summer except a few snappers I removed from a nearby road before they were run over. What I found is that I'm learning more, because I'm observing the animals behavior rather than immediately making a mad dash to snatch it up in my hands. You'd be amazed at how long you can observe animals if you stay quiet and don't immediately freak them out. The other good reason - avoiding a nasty bite, is also compellling. Listen to the warnings of experienced herpers - you will be bitten. Not to be insulting...you scare me because you seem overly condident in your abilities but it's very clear that you are a rookie.

User avatar
mywan
Posts: 195
Joined: August 31st, 2012, 3:24 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by mywan »

I'll second the learning much more by sitting back and observing. When I was young I caught 1 baby copperhead after I was reasonably confident of my handling skills. It was apparent that, in spite of going very smoothly, no matter how careful or good at it I was it would cost me a doctor sooner or later.

If it's what you want to do there's nobody here to stop you. You can't expect to make a living milking snakes, though that could eventually happen if your willing to do it for free. All we can do is impress on you the full extent of the responsibility you are taking. I would get to know a doctor up front and just don't fool yourself into thinking the risk is low enough you can go unscathed for even a few years.

Aaron Mills
Posts: 121
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:54 am
Location: Arizona

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Aaron Mills »

James1617 wrote:For me it has nothing to do with being macho or brave. I agree that holding a hot snake is not wise or safe and that there is no reason why anyone should but it is just something that I want to do. I can't just look at a snake and not hold it. Holding it in a tube doesn't do it for me either. Also it isn't like I just reach down and put my fingers anywhere. I know they can't be too far back or too close. Because if your finger is to close ithe snake can throw a fang and get your finger like in that video of that guy getting bitten by that eastern diamond back. If your fingers are too far then the snake can move its head and get you then as well.

How old are you? This isn't meant as an insult, just curious.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kelly Mc »

James1617 wrote: I can't just look at a snake and not hold it.
No matter what age, its kind of a tell tale sign of how novice a person is - the more important handling a snake is to them.

Even those who work with non venomous - the more advanced guys dont seem to need to hold the snakes to enjoy them. (without a real purpose, like photo documentation or husbandry routine)

Just so you know.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kelly Mc »

James it would be good to realize also, that while you are Holding a crote like that - like how you like to do - every second that passes is percieved by the snake as being about to be killed. Thats where their brains go.

So in thinking you are a snake guy because you hold them - you in reality, dont understand them at all. It makes you, simply a guy who gets his jollies playing with timbers and copperheads. It like being a bully.

The essence of them is lost and you are not a snake guy at all by making that happen.

User avatar
Kent VanSooy
Posts: 1100
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:51 am
Location: Oceanside

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kent VanSooy »

Jonathan, love the photo of the ruber with the playground in the background - great stuff!

And, the others are correct - getting bit is a horrible thing, bad in every way.

Tamara D. McConnell
Posts: 2248
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Tamara D. McConnell »

James,
Perhaps you could channel your passion for hots into strictly digital capturing...you could probably make some wonderful contributions to the database, and I suspect the challenge of taking great hands-off photos would occupy your mind. I suspect you are seeking a challenge, and that would definitely be one. Plus, you'd be helping the snakes, rather than pointlessly stressing them out. Maybe give it some thought?
In the words of the Almighty Oprah: "When folks know better, they do better."
I really think James doesn't know any better. He could be a real asset to our community, if he opens his mind a bit and redirects his energies.

User avatar
DaneConley
Posts: 481
Joined: September 21st, 2010, 9:03 am
Location: SE Virginia/SW Illinois

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by DaneConley »

.

User avatar
Nick Scobel
Posts: 232
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:35 pm
Location: Southeast Michigan
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Nick Scobel »

As you can see James, you've hit a very hot topic with forum members on the head. This forum is home to a wide variety of people; biologists, students, academics, herpetologists, and just people who like herps in general, and these people are a wealth of information that can be extremely beneficial. I encourage you to take heed to what forum members have told you, it might just help you avoid a trip to the hospital or worse. I can understand where you're coming from, because when I was young I also felt the adrenaline rush that came along with handling venomous snakes. Though I've never been bit, I did have one close call with a rattlesnake that almost jabbed me with a fang out the side of its mouth when I was 16. That was enough for me to take a hands off approach when it comes to venomous snakes. I'd also like to reiterate what others have said about the well being of the snake. Pinning a snake behind the head is not only stressful for the snake, it can be downright harmful and can potentially cause serious injury. By giving a venomous snake space, you and the snake can come out unharmed.

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by muskiemagnet »

James1617 wrote:For me it has nothing to do with being macho or brave. I agree that holding a hot snake is not wise or safe and that there is no reason why anyone should but it is just something that I want to do. I can't just look at a snake and not hold it. Holding it in a tube doesn't do it for me either. Also it isn't like I just reach down and put my fingers anywhere. I know they can't be too far back or too close. Because if your finger is to close ithe snake can throw a fang and get your finger like in that video of that guy getting bitten by that eastern diamond back. If your fingers are too far then the snake can move its head and get you then as well.

c'mon, read your own words. it's all about what you want. no thought put in to the fact that it is dangerous to you and the snake. you've said you agree that it is not wise, but yet you do it anyways. does that mean you are not wise? i'd have to say so. at least have some consideration for the potential harm you may inflict on the snake. sure sounds like you are trying to prove something to yourself or others. slowinski died because he was like you.

-ben

hellihooks
Posts: 8025
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 7:12 am
Location: Hesperia, California.
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by hellihooks »

As someone who has a reputation of having experience with crotes... let me tell you it's not all it's cracked up to be. deep down under the veneer of friendliness and even camaraderie... people think you're 'crazy'... but won't hesitate to call you over, when a crote is found, that THEY would like to see better. You become a 'tool'... in more than one way.

And they get disappointed and even a bit resentful should you not want to do what they are afraid to do themselves. This gets magnified when there are 'photobugs' with you... guys who want to spend a ton of time taking tons of pics, from every conceivable angle... so rather than actually herping (which is what you'd rather be doing) you're stuck 'wrangling' the snake, till they're finished... and then you get to return the snake to where you got it.

Hell... once on a survey, where no snakes had been seen all day... I pulled a pair of helleri out of a outcrop, so the 'crew' (12 guys?) could get a few pics... I took one shot of each, and headed off to see what else I could find... came back 40 min later... and they were STILL posing the snakes for pics... in the full sun. :roll: I had to put my foot down and say... enough's enough! And put the snakes back where I found them. Those very well may have been the two most photographed hellerii ever found.

Nowadays I prefer that crotes never even know I'm there, and am perfectly satisfied with the few insitu shots I get. But when you're with friends who may not feel the same, and EXPECT you to come handle every crote found... it kinda interferes with what you rather be doing, and kinda gets awkward when you refuse.

It comes down to doing whats best for the snake, or what pleases you the most. Where you want to get to is when doing whats best for the snake IS what pleases you most.... :D

This reply is not aimed at anyone in particular. :) jim

DavidG
Posts: 136
Joined: June 8th, 2010, 1:17 am

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by DavidG »

Warning: Long response :thumb: - but it shouldn't be too boring to read, hopefully...

Everyone who handles snakes will one day get bitten. I have picked up 'non-venomous' snakes. So far I have not yet been bitten (knock on wood) and I DO NOT plan to get bitten - not even by a non-venomous species. Why go through the hassle; I mean even if the snake is 'non-venomous', the bite may bleed terribly (kukri snakes) or you may risk picking up an infection. It is not worth it - not unless there is a very, very good reason as to why you are picking up that snake. What makes a good reason? Well, its your life, you are taking the risk. This is of particular importance when we consider hots.

As some of you know, I live in Singapore. I once had a horrible nightmare - potentially the scariest one I've ever had. I was herping in a local nature reserve when I encountered the blue malayan coral snake (Fact: I haven't seen this snake yet in real life). For some reason, in my dream, I touched the snake by the tail. In a flash, the snake turned around and bit me in the thumb. There is no local antivenom for this dangerously venomous species. I remember feeling in my dream as if my whole life just collapsed in that moment, right in front of me. I then woke up.

This may sound a little lame - I mean, of course, its only a dream... Right? The dream has been with me ever since I went on any kind of herping adventure. Picking up a venomous snake is like playing Russian Roulette - I don't think any further explanation is needed. This does not mean that I have no respect for people who milk snakes. Don't get me wrong. I respect these people. I do. I am majoring in chemistry - I personally am also interested in developing antivenom, but I'm pretty sure I do not want to be the guy milking the snakes. I am simply not willing to risk my life for this - and I am sure that many of the snake-milkers who read my response, do agree with what I am saying - That snake handling is a risk that YOU take for yourself.

I was once on an island South of Singapore. It's known as Batam. It's like a kind of holiday-retreat, but less exploited then many other areas. When I was young I had an obsession with insects and fish. Maybe I should say I simply loved nets. Yep, nets. Whether I was on land or in the water, I always carried a big net with me to catch stuff. This was me as a kid. Back to Batam now. I was in the sea, and saw a beautiful fish. I swung my net through the water. YES. I caught IT! Awesome. I finally had a fish after like 3 hours. I was concerned that the fish would die out of the water. However, I couldn't seem to disentangle the fish from the net. In my young, naive, excitement, I started swinging with my net as if I was having spasms. In the blink of an eye I felt a sharp sting in my index finger. To keep it short: The snake was stung in the net with its stings that ran along its back. When thrashing the net around, I (YES, I, I, I) stung myself with the fish accidentally.

I had to be rushed to the local (yeah, it wasn't much) hospital. My finger was cut open, everything cleaned, and I was treated with antivenom. .... . I was playing with my life. I will not do so again.

The point is, that no matter how good you are... Okay just kidding. I'm an amateur when it comes to all this. But what exactly makes a professional snake handler professional? Professional just goes to mean that you earn money for the work you do. Are some people better snake handlers then others? Of course, its not rocket science. Are people 'immune' to the risk of being bitten by a snake. Of course not, its not rocket science.

User avatar
jonathan
Posts: 3679
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:39 am
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by jonathan »

Kent VanSooy wrote:Jonathan, love the photo of the ruber with the playground in the background - great stuff!
Hard to tell from that angle,but it's actually "rubers". And yeah, I was trying to get the playground in there. The second I found that pair close enough to the playground to hit with a rock, I wanted to get that pic. Says something to me about how omnipresent rattlers are in SoCal, and yet how rarely anything bad happens.

Except to those who are going out of their way to touch them, that is. ;)

User avatar
Bryan Hamilton
Posts: 1223
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Bryan Hamilton »

DavidG wrote:Everyone who handles snakes will one day get bitten.
This is simply not true. There are ways to safely work with hot snakes and protect both yourself and the snakes.

Find a mentor that prioritizes safety, refuse to take unnecessary risks and do not accept that a bite is inevitable.

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by VanAR »

This is simply not true.
Depends. I think it is true if your method of "handling" is to tail or neck. If "handling" means in a tube or squeeze box, with buckets, tools, and no direct contact, with 100% attention on the animal at all times, I think you're right.

User avatar
VanAR
Posts: 590
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:36 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by VanAR »

The issue is avoiding 1/ harming the snake 2/ A serious bite.
I'd reverse those. I know way too many people who've been envenomated because they handled a snake improperly because they "didn't want to hurt the snake". Not hurting the snake should definitely be a top priority, but your own safety should be THE HIGHEST priority.

User avatar
Martti Niskanen
Posts: 363
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 10:19 am
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Martti Niskanen »

Snakemanaustralia, eh?

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kelly Mc »

VanAR wrote:
The issue is avoiding 1/ harming the snake 2/ A serious bite.
I'd reverse those. I know way too many people who've been envenomated because they handled a snake improperly because they "didn't want to hurt the snake".
Way too many, huh. Like how many of them? And specifically because they didnt want to hurt the snake?

Peoples choices to do things are their own problem. And people have enough other people caring about their safety and comfort. I find the statement of Snakemanaustralia refreshing and wouldnt reverse the order at all.

User avatar
Kelly Mc
Posts: 4509
Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kelly Mc »

m-m-must rrresist t-t-telling own butch dry bite s-sstory . . as thinly velled excuse to do so presents self. . . erghhh . .

User avatar
muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by muskiemagnet »

i remember as a kid, catching mice because i "could". well, the mice died because they were scared to death. because i "could" is extremely selfish. the nice little critters died for no reason other than me "wanting" to. kind of sad if one thinks about it. just something to think about. we don't have big monsters to pick us up, otherwise we may understand a little more.

-ben

User avatar
Kent VanSooy
Posts: 1100
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:51 am
Location: Oceanside

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Kent VanSooy »

m-m-must rrresist t-t-telling own butch dry bite s-sstory . . as thinly velled excuse to do so presents self. . . erghhh . .
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE..........

c'mon Kelly, spill !! ;)

User avatar
chrish
Posts: 3295
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by chrish »

James,

Understand you have tripped one of the real "hot button" issues here which is why there are so many "spirited" replies.

Don't be offended, it isn't about you.

I do have a question though:

You want to milk snakes for antivenom because you perceive there is a shortage of people doing it or antivenom. Yet, in doing so, you significantly increase the chance of some of that antivenom being used on you (thereby reducing the supply). Does that seem reasonable?

Oh, and BTW, understand that most of us here replying felt the same way you do at one time, even if it was a short period of time. And many of us paid a price (i.e. took a bite). Most of us have scar (or worse) and a very painful memory. If you asked me if I would trade the bite I took (Crotalus triseriatus) for the experience, I would be very happy to have never had that experience. It sucked, for weeks. The only thing I learned from it is how stupid it is to handle venomous snakes, regardless of your level of experience.

Also, ask yourself "Who is going to pay the thousands (sometimes 10s of thousands) of dollars in medical bills when you get bit?" Seriously, how will you come up with the money?

Learning not to handle animals is harder than learning to handle them, but is a lot more rewarding.
Next time you come across a Timber or Copperhead in the wild, try something different. Just watch it. Watching one of these amazing animals go about their lives is much more interesting and rewarding than physically handling them.

User avatar
Mike Pingleton
Posts: 1470
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
Location: One of the boys from Illinois
Contact:

Re: Question about holding hot snakes.

Post by Mike Pingleton »

Agreed on both counts!
-Mike
Kent VanSooy wrote:Jonathan, love the photo of the ruber with the playground in the background - great stuff!

And, the others are correct - getting bit is a horrible thing, bad in every way.

Post Reply