Monday, January 21, 2013

Milking a Rattlesnake

Milking a Rattlesnake,
Ross Allen's Reptile Institute,
Silver Springs, Florida

Photo by Sam Adnre

unused Curteich postcard

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Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes. There are 32 known species of rattlesnake, with between 65-70 subspecies, all native to the Americas, ranging from southern Alberta and southern British Columbia in Canada to Central Argentina.

Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal to humans, if treated promptly. Between 7,000 and 8,000 people are estimated to have been bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, and about five of those die. The most important factor in determining survival following a severe envenomation is the amount of time elapsed between the bite and treatment. Most deaths occur between 6 and 48 hours after the bite. However, if antivenom treatment is given within 1–2 hours of the bite, the probability of recovery is greater than 99%.

The first step in the production of antivenom is collecting ("milking") the venom of a live rattlesnake. (As seen in the postcard above) The extracted venom is then diluted and injected into horses, goats, or sheep, whose immune systems produce antibodies that protect from the toxic effects of the venom. These antibodies accumulate in the blood, which is then extracted and centrifuged (spinning an object in rotation around a fixed axis)  to separate the red blood cells. The resulting serum is purified into a lyophilized powder, which is packaged for distribution and later use by human patients.
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Here is another postcard of a Rattlesnake ...
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

North American Wildlife

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).

The western diamondback rattlesnake, also known as "coon tail rattler", is capable of delivering a fatal bite.  It is active late in the day and at night in the hot summer months.  It is found in arid and semiarid areas and has a life span of nearly 26 years.

Photographers - Alan & Sandy Carey

from 2010, has a 44 cent 'Archie' stamp attached


ONeal said...

Looks to be easier doing it that way than with a bucket and stool. :)

9teen87 said...

Hahahaha! Growing up on a farm with a bucket and stool I can appreciate that.

luvlinens said...

I made a post on January 18 of the Miami Serpentarium with a short video. Check it out.

9teen87 said...

I saw it on Jan. 18th and commented on it. :D It is a great post!