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Farming for venom: Survey of snake venom extraction facilities worldwide

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Facilities that maintain and extract venom from venomous snakes were located worldwide. Information concerning numbers, distribution, years in operation, ownership (private or government), facilities open to the public for display of animals or educational programs, number of snakes and species maintained, prevalence of captive breeding programs, venom extraction frequency, and occupational hazards was collected. A total of 34 facilities in 21 countries were located. Information (all or in part) was obtained on 32 of these facilities. Forty-four percent of the facilities existed in countries as the sole venom extraction enterprise. The length of time they have been in operation ranged from 1 to over 90 years and are 56% private and 44% government owned. Thirty-five percent of the facilities are open to the public for display of animals or educational purposes. Most facilities maintained animal totals between 50 and 1500. However, the number of species maintained at these facilities varied greatly, ranging from 1 to 70. The majority of facilities have some type of captive breeding program, with some reporting as high as 80% of their total animals captive born. While some facilities maintain both exotic and native species, most (68%) house native species only. The majority of the facilities reported that venom was collected or "extracted" from snakes on 14 to 30 day intervals. Occupational hazards of employees regarding accidental envenomation or "snakebite" varied. Envenomation frequencies at facilities ranged from zero to as high as one accident every eight months. Only one death was reported due to an envenomation accident.


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