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Hey all. Sorry it’s been so long. As Tennessee is under a winter storm warning, I feel the need to remind everyone to have a backup plan incase of power failure. We have a kerosene heater ready in our reptile room. A backup generator is also a good idea.

There have been multiple happenings since my last entry. The curator at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo had a serious incident, and several areas have had legislature attempts surface. I willprobably cover the legal things at a later date. I feel Jim Harrison’s ordeal deserves my attention today.

Jim is the director at Kentucky Reptile Zoo. He has over 30 years experience working with venomous snakes. His work is beneficial to us all, as he milks his snakes and is a major provider to the antivenom industry. Jim practices, and stresses, all the necessary precautions when handling his animals.


On this particular day, Jim was attempting to milk a South American rattler. As he was working the animal, it was able to struggle enough to break the glass tube that Jim was using to control it. Therefore, this was not a case of neglecting due caution, the precautions merely failed.

Luckily for Harrison, KRZ keeps supplies of antivenom readily available and had the knowledge to assist the local hospital staff treat his injuries. Mr. Harrison will fully recover with minimal lasting effects. The snake was unharmed in the incident. This story has a happy ending.

Hopefully, this incident will serve as an example to those out there that think “freehandling” is cool. This man was experienced, exercising due caution, and only handling the animal for a worthy gain. He could have suffered serious, if not fatal, injuries had him and his staff not been properly equipped and trained.

Those who freehandle for the thrill or the ego boost are neither trained or equipped. They risk their own lives, endanger anyone near them, and could cause their animal to be put down. When the inevitable happens, the authorities will want to destroy the snake. There is no justifiable excuse for this dangerous act.

The individuals who handle venomous properly to study them and their venom have my up most respect. Those who safely photograph these animals in their natural environment have my extreme gratitude. Venomous species seem to be some of the most beautiful to look at. The ones who freehandle because it’s “cool” can expect nothing but my contempt and scorn. Darwinism will prevail, and the rest of us will suffer.

The media love to exploit idiots suffering needless harm. They will use the bad example to make all snake lovers look like fools. Our hobby suffers enough bad press without these arrogant individuals fueling the fire. If a man with Jim Harrison’s experience can suffer such a tragic mishap, how can someone with little experience and zero safeguards hope to avoid a serious bite?

As usual, these views are my own and do not represent any other individual. I sincerely hope none of my friends will support others engaging in this dangerous behavior. I will not share or promote any examples of such irresponsible actions.

Until next time Happy Herping.

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