School holiday visitors were surprised to witness a deadly and dangerous event at The Australian Reptile Park as they were able to see the award-winning wildlife park’s popular ‘Venom Milk Off!’ to coincide with World Snake Day occurring on Saturday 16th July. The challenge involved keepers Zac Bower, Jake Meney and Billy Collett bringing out three of Australia’s DEADLIEST snakes in one space and milking them to see who would produce the largest yield of venom.
Although the Australian Reptile Park hosts a huge variety of Australia’s deadliest snakes, selecting the species of snakes to use was not a tough one. The Venom Milk Off included the Tiger Snake, The King Brown Snake and the Coastal Taipan. All three snakes are known for being incredibly deadly, and the task had everyone’s hearts racing as each snake was revealed from the bags.
The Milk Off made the Coastal Taipan victorious at a massive 2.4 grams of venom, while the King Brown came second at 1.6 grams and the Tiger Snake came third with 0.2 grams. All venom produced from the display has been processed and ready to be shipped off and contribute to the lifesaving antivenom program.
Operations Manager, Billy Collett says, “I think we all knew the Coastal Taipan would come out victorious considering how dangerous they are, but a few of us thought the King Brown might have had him beat! It was a really impressive display from these amazing animals, and we loved taking the time to educate the crowd on Snake bite first aid and showing the world just how deadly these snakes can be.”
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 snakes including Taipans, Brown Snakes, Tiger Snakes, Death Adders and Black Snakes. Every year there are and estimated 2,000 reported snake bites in Australia, with over 300 receiving antivenom and having their lives saved by the program.
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.
Visitors to the Australian Reptile Park can see a snake milking demonstration over the weekend during the ‘Deadly & Dangerous Show’ at 1pm during last weekend of school holidays. Visitors can also book a Behind the Scenes tour to see the current facilities and the impressive collection of Australia’s most venomous snakes.