Rattlesnake Roundup

Rattlesnake RoundupHere’s a program from our archives. ambience: crowd, rattlesnake rattling,We’re at a festival in a small town in Georgia, where families are milling around carnival rides and vendors are selling food and crafts. But the main attraction at this fair is rattlesnakes. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Every year, throughout the United States they hold “rattlesnake roundups,” such as this one in Whigham, Georgia. At a rattlesnake roundup, among other things, you can see demonstrations of how venom is milked from a snake. This one is being conducted by Ken Darnell.Darnell: Now what we’re doing is extracting venom from Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes. If you’re rough with them, they start striking everything in sight and they waste their venom. So we try to be as gentle with them as we can. You get your finger on top of the head like that, to have him under control – you put his fangs over the lip of the funnel – gentle pressure on the sides of the head, the venom rolls down into an ice bath.The snake venom that’s extracted at rattlesnake roundups is sometimes used in medical research. Darnell: One of the worst problems you suffer from snake bite is your blood pressure goes down. It can go down tremendously. And now, one of the most effective blood pressure medicines in the world came about because of studying rattlesnake venom. They produced a synthetic pharmaceutical for blood pressure treatment – very effective. Hey, they did it with our venom produced at roundups in Georgia and Texas.” At a rattlesnake roundup, snakes may be hunted, put on display and then killed, with their skins sold to make boots and wallets. Supporters of these events say they provide valuable snake venom and have educational value, but critics point out that roundups are cruel to snakes and harmful to the environment – eradicating an important predator from its ecosystem. We’ve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I’m Jim Metznermusic

Rattlesnake Roundup

Milking venom from rattlesnakes has yielded benefits for medical science, but roundups have their critics.
Air Date:03/18/2020
Scientist:
Transcript:

Rattlesnake RoundupHere's a program from our archives. ambience: crowd, rattlesnake rattling,We're at a festival in a small town in Georgia, where families are milling around carnival rides and vendors are selling food and crafts. But the main attraction at this fair is rattlesnakes. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Every year, throughout the United States they hold "rattlesnake roundups," such as this one in Whigham, Georgia. At a rattlesnake roundup, among other things, you can see demonstrations of how venom is milked from a snake. This one is being conducted by Ken Darnell.Darnell: Now what we're doing is extracting venom from Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes. If you're rough with them, they start striking everything in sight and they waste their venom. So we try to be as gentle with them as we can. You get your finger on top of the head like that, to have him under control - you put his fangs over the lip of the funnel - gentle pressure on the sides of the head, the venom rolls down into an ice bath.The snake venom that's extracted at rattlesnake roundups is sometimes used in medical research. Darnell: One of the worst problems you suffer from snake bite is your blood pressure goes down. It can go down tremendously. And now, one of the most effective blood pressure medicines in the world came about because of studying rattlesnake venom. They produced a synthetic pharmaceutical for blood pressure treatment - very effective. Hey, they did it with our venom produced at roundups in Georgia and Texas." At a rattlesnake roundup, snakes may be hunted, put on display and then killed, with their skins sold to make boots and wallets. Supporters of these events say they provide valuable snake venom and have educational value, but critics point out that roundups are cruel to snakes and harmful to the environment - eradicating an important predator from its ecosystem. We've been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast. I'm Jim Metznermusic