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Snake Milker

Draw venom from snakes to create lifesaving antivenoms.

What does a Snake Milker do?

Snake_Milker_Profile_ImageA Snake Milker extracts venom from snakes. Now, why would anyone want to do that? Well, there’s a perfectly good reason for “milking” snakes.

Because snakes don’t chew their food before they eat it, many varieties rely on venom to subdue or kill their prey, which makes it easier to swallow whole. The venom can lower your blood pressure, stop your heart, paralyze your muscles, cause internal bleeding, or kill living tissue. If you get bit, therefore, it’s safe to say: You’re going to want an antidote.

The trouble is that the antidote, called “antivenom,” is made with venom, and venom is hard to come by. To get it, you’ve got to hire a Snake Milker to extract it.

As a Snake Milker, you do a job that some people think is insane and others think is interesting: You remove the venom from poisonous snakes — such as sea snakes, vipers, rattlesnakes, cobras, and copperheads — so it can be used by hospitals and laboratories to make antivenom.

Employed by zoos and serpentarium—special farms where snakes are cared for, researched, and bred—you “milk” the venom out of snakes using one of two methods. The first requires holding the snake’s head, then inducing it to bite a latex membrane that’s placed over a small receptacle, which collects the venom when the snake injects it. The second requires holding the snake’s mouth open while a colleague touches its head with electrodes, which stimulates the muscles around the venom glands and forces them to react.

Cows. Goats. Sheep. Some animals were made for milking. When you’re a Snake Milker, you’re among a small minority that thinks snakes are one of them!