The Australian Reptile Park is renowned for its lifesaving venom milking program, in which keepers risk their lives daily for the sake of saving hundreds across the country each year. Yesterday Park staff, led by Operations Manager Billy Collett, had the dangerous task of performing a health check on what could be Australia’s longest venomous snake.
Titan is a king brown snake (also known as a Mulga snake) which is considered the longest species of venomous snake in Australia. During Titan’s health check, he came in at 2.68metres and weighed 7.8kg. King brown snakes are known to reach up to 2.5metres and can weigh between 5kg. This leads staff at the Australian Reptile Park to believe it could be the longest venomous snake in captivity in Australia.
“He’s an intimidating animal” explains Operations Manager, Billy Collett. “Titan is impressive, and a great ambassador for his species, educating over 250,000 people who visit the Australian Reptile ark each year about our role in the lifesaving antivenom program that saves 300 Australian lives each year.”
As a part of the health check, Mr Collet completed a milking to review the condition and amount of venom Titan can produce. This resulted in Titan biting a vial and producing an impressive 5.58g of venom. “This is enough to kill over 20 adult men!” exclaimed Mr Collett.
The Australian Reptile Park is the only facility in the world that milks Australian terrestrial land snakes for the production of antivenom. This is done with the help of Seqirus, who transforms the raw venom into the final product of lifesaving antivenom. The Australian Reptile Park extracts venom from five groups of Australia’s deadliest terrestrial snakes including Taipans, Brown Snakes, Tiger Snakes, Death Adders and Black Snakes.
Interestingly, the King Brown Snake is a part of the Black snake family and not the Brown Snake family like commonly thought. Its venom, whilst not as potent as the Eastern brown snake, is delivered in such large doses it is extremely deadly to anyone who is bitten and envenomated.
Unlike mammals, reptiles don’t actively show signs that they are unhealthy. Mr Collett continued “Weighing reptiles is crucial in monitoring their health and a task where Keepers need to show extreme care, one wrong move could be deadly. As reptiles don’t need to eat that often, so it’s not like they just stop eating when they feel sick. The best way of ensuring their good health is by weighing, measuring and giving them a close-up inspection of their condition.”
In early 2023, the Australian Reptile Park will commence construction on a brand-new state-of-the-art venom milking facility that visitors will be able to walk through and witness the lifesaving work first-hand. The NSW State government has committed $300,000 to the project with initial planning stages well and truly underway.