||Harold "Budman" Mierkey|
|Joel La Rocque|
|Ray "Cobraman" Hunter|
|Martin Lalor Crimmins|
Harold “Budman” Mierkey
Harold “Budman” Mierkey
Budman is probably the world’s foremost self immunizer, being virtually immune to everything. His self experimenting knows no limitation using and/or surviving the bites of mambas, cobras, rattlesnakes, water cobras, rinkhals, even Australia’s death adder and Eastern brown snake. Harold uses pure venom injections, not a toxoid. His remarkable record and achievement has often been overshadowed by his internet forum posts that typically lead to psychotic responses from those claiming he’s crazy, showing off, getting bit too many times or name calling and attack to the point where the entire thread gets deleted fairly quickly. He brings out the worst in some folks who are either jealous (the ego argument in reverse) or somehow feel emasculated that someone can handle their precious dangerous pet with impunity. Bud fans the flames sometimes with pictures of freehandling and claims of surviving hundreds of bites. Love him or hate him, his achievements are undeniably remarkable. Haast will always be the man, but really, it might be Harold Mierkey.
Tim Friede has almost single handedly taken the concept of self immunizing to where it is today, enduring tremendous personal attacks due to his demonstrations of actual bites from water cobras, monocle and cape cobras and green and black mambas. Tim has achieved very high levels of immunity, and specializes in pushing the limits of what the human body can do. I have compared his dramatic demonstrations with someone who says they can fly leaping from a one hundred story building instead of the third floor. He has tirelessly championed his achievements on internet forums where he is usually crucified. Through it all, he generously keeps sharing his experiences and knowledge and soldiers on in his quest for a DNA based snake bite vaccine that could provide an alternative to antivenom, cold storage and the logistics that prevent many in the third world from having access to a remedy to some pretty horrific snake bites. Tim is always looking to be studied, and networking to get the peer reviewed papers published, investigated and catch the ears and minds of immunologists, researchers or anybody who will listen, critics be damned. Tim put together a small book called “Snake Vaccinology, Venomous Self Immunizing”, available on his web site. Tim has recently been featured on an episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans (as "Antivenom") to demonstrate his superhuman immunity to Black Mamba venom, and was a big part of the Henry Rollins hosted show on National Geographic called "Snake Underworld".
Tim’s website: http://www.timfriede.com
He is the reason for the other’s on the list, period. He’s the icon and the one who will always be credited with starting it all. An unmatched lifelong career of extractions to provide venoms of the highest quality for research and the production of antivenoms. Bill Haast began self immunizing in 1942 to survive a career in the venom extraction business. He was extracting venoms from snakes that antiserums had not yet been developed or produced, and some that no human on record had ever been bitten by and survived. In 1954, he was using .9cc boosters of cape, Indian and king cobras. He did a booster on January 1, then on February 22, got bit by an Indian cobra, requiring no treatment. The next month, his wife Clarita was telling the small crowd of Serpentarium visitors during a venom extraction demonstration that this next snake, the blue krait, was one of those snakes that nobody had ever survived the bite of, when it bit him. It was a big six foot blue krait, too. Bill had never immunized with this snakes venom, but he decided to just ride it out and test his immunity. The result is well documented in his biography, “Cobras in his garden”, and also a paper he co-authored with Melvin Weiner called “Complete and Spontaneous Recovery from the Bite of a Blue Krait Snake (Bungarus Caeruleus)”. The title is slightly misleading, as the complete and spontaneous part just means he survived without permanent injury and didn’t use any antivenom, It was a very rough forty eight hours, though. It was also a monumental offering of evidence that his self directed immunizations worked, and suggested the possibilities of cross protection from cobras to kraits. This indirectly led to the U.S. Army conducting human trials in venomous snake immunization. This was the time when human immunization went from Egyptian snake charmers, into the laboratories of the United States. Haast also has the distinction of having his immunized blood transfused directly into the bloodstream of twenty one persons bitten by venomous snakes (including a krait bite victim) and even black widow spider. He was mocked, ridiculed and never taken seriously by those that still scoffed at his chances of surviving his immunizations, let alone the 170 venomous snake bites he counted and the dozens more that he didn’t. He got the last laugh by turning 100 years old on December 30, 2010. He always championed the medical significance of the venoms and the potential that he could literally feel in his veins. He dedicated his life to the research and is now something of a medical wonder himself, to those now curious if there might be something in all that venom (or the workout it gives his immune system) that could explain his longevity. He’s the man.
Joel La Rocque
Joel La Rocque-
Joel owns Specialized Venoms in Senica, South Carolina. He extracts and supplies copperhead venoms for cancer research labs. Joel took an interest in venomous snakes after a dry bite from a cottonmouth water moccasin in 1972 at nineteen years old. The fact that a snake could choose to envenomate or not gave Joel a life long passion to better understand and appreciate the thinking ability of these very misunderstood creatures. In 1995 Joel began immunizing with a cocktail of four venoms. The dried venoms of the southern copperhead, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Ammodytes viper and White-lipped tree vipers were combined in a booster mix. His first injection was 1cc. He then cut the next to .5cc about two weeks later. He has tested his immunity with a few bites over many years of performing venom extractions. He is not an advocate of people starting an immunization program, even if you are in the business of venom extracting or some such business where you have that kind of daily contact with venomous snakes. Joel has specialized in pit vipers, and that’s the venoms he uses. He is also known for his method of taming snakes, allowing them to sit on his desk at work or have the freedom of the snake room. He hasn’t written much about his methods of immunology or taming snakes, he doesn’t want any copy cats and does not want you to do what he does. He’s a good soul, an animal lover.
Charles Tanner ran a snake farm at Cooktown in Queensland Australia, where he milked venomous snakes to provide venoms for antivenom production at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories from the early 1960’s to 1985. He was a true herpetologist, collecting and donating over a thousand specimens for the Victorian and Queensland museums. He was also the first to field collect and extract venom from the Inland Taipan, which was found to be the most toxic of any land snake. After nine venomous snake bites, Tanner developed an allergy to antivenoms, and under the direction of Dr. Saul Weiner of CSL, decided to try immunizing and building an immunity with tiger snake venom. The venom was treated with formalin to produce a toxoid. After 24 boosters over 13 months, tests done on mice showed tolerance to a 10-15 LD50 dose of venom when mixed with (and neutralized by) his immunized blood. (documented in the paper titled “Active Immunization of Man Against the Venom of the Australian Tiger Snake (Notechis Scutatus” ) He was also bitten by a western brown snake during the tiger snake immunization boosters which caused him to collapse and lose consciousness for fifteen minutes. The symptoms of envenomation disappeared in four hours and he experienced a general weakness for two days. This was also documented in a paper (titled “Snake Bite in a Subject Actively Immunized Against Snake Venom”) by Dr. Saul Weiner.
Ray “Cobraman” Hunter
Ray “Cobraman” Hunter
Ray is a real estate broker and reptile importer in Port St. Lucie, Florida. He regularly maintains hundreds of venomous snakes and also extracts and sells lyophilized snake venoms. He began self immunizing in 1991 and is using a mixture of nine venoms in his boosters. Ray is known as the “Cobraman” for many famous pictures of him freehandling king and other cobras, in the style made famous by Bill Haast of the Miami Serpentarium, where Ray worked for a time. Ray has been featured on an episode of “I Was Bitten”, that chronicled a very serious eastern diamondback envenomation that nearly killed him. He was also prominently featured in Steve Ludwin’s Animal Planet show, “The Man Who Injects Venom”.
London based ex-Yank Steve began immunizing himself with a very ancient method of making tiny scratches and directly applying raw fresh liquid venom for ever longer times. He did this with Northern Pacific rattlesnake and copperhead venoms. Eventually he started using needles and larger doses over a total period of twenty years. Steve began hearing from friends who remarked about his ever youthful looks into his forties, and began a quest to investigate if the venoms had something to do with it. Steve caught the ear of a television production company who put him in touch with an immunologist and together made an Animal Planet show called “The Man Who Injects Venom”. Some of the lab results were very surprising, with the immunologist finding his blood to have antibiotic qualities. Steve traveled from England to Florida to compare notes with fellow self immunizers Ray “Cobraman” Hunter and yours truly, who were also featured on the show. It may go down as one of the very first mainstream programs about self immunizing to make it to air, but no doubt the start of many more to come. Steve managed to get self immunizing into a lot of peoples homes without the hype and daredevil aspect being over-exploited. It was really a show about seeking answers about what the venom is doing and is there any potential that can come from it. It was a positive light on self immunizing. Not bad. Steve is also a published song writer, musician and develops artists and television shows.
Derek is a hobby keeper of Variable Bush vipers (Atheris) who immunized with squamigera and tested the cross protection to cerataphora. These are very popular colorful arboreal venomous snakes that make great display snakes for hobby keepers. Unfortunately, there is no specific antivenom for them. While not considered a highly potent venom, deaths have been recorded for their bites. It probably helps that he majored in Biological Writing, Derek has contributed a very nice paper about his program. As a result of self immunizing, Derek can probably skip going to the emergency room, or having any medical record of a bite by any of the African bush vipers he works with on a daily basis.
(Still looking for a picture!)
Instrumental in establishing the Instituto Clodomiro Picado and the production of the first antivenoms in Costa Rica, Dr. Flowers was the subject of the U.S.Army medical research laboratory feasibility study on a safe and practical method of immunization man against Indian cobra venom. Their preliminary report was submitted September 5,1963. Over the course of five months, seventeen injections were given that resulted in his immunized blood neutralizing 30 mouse LD50s and estimated that, at a minimum, he had enough circulating antibodies to neutralize a dose of 100 mg of cobra venom. Unlike the earlier tiger snake immunization of Charles Tanner, this venom was not a toxoid. The conclusion was that man could safely be immunized.
Lee was allowed to keep venomous snakes at home from a very early age, and was bitten by a pygmy rattlesnake at eighteen. It was one of four pygmy's, along with a western diamondback and a timber rattlesnake that he kept in his bedroom at the time. His mother worked at the Miami Serpentarium, and Lee cleaned cages there a few days a week. Lee’s father collected snakes in South America and planned to open a venom extraction center in Moyobomba, Peru with Fearless Ronald Wagner, another Miami Serpentarium worker. Lee started Serpentoxin Laboratories in a remote wooded habitat in Fort. McCoy, Florida to provide venom for medical research. His paper describing his immunization with cobra and mamba venoms was published on his website.
NOTICE: There is only one Serpentoxin Laboratory, owned by Lee Moore who owns the domain name for serpentoxin.com. Serpentoxin Laboratory is not associated with Serpentoxin.net and Serpentoxin.net is not authorized to conduct business or advertise Serpentoxin Laboratory. Statements made on serpentoxin.net site about Serpentoxin.com are bogus and any information on it are posted by individuals who are not licensed in the state of Florida to possess venomous reptiles.
Martin Lalor Crimmins
Colonel Martin Lalor Crimmins
Martin was a herpetologist who was partially responsible for the establishment of the first antivenom production in the United States, a nation wide collective network effort called the Antivenom Institute. To produce a quality standardized product, snakes collected had to be properly identified, venoms collected and properly freeze dried. Several reliable “depots” were established, like the San Diego and Bronx zoo’s, where snakes were precisely identified and venoms collected for shipment to Mulford labs in Pennsylvania. This eventually became Wyeth’s polyvalent crotalid antivenom. Crimmins conducted this work for the Antivenom Institute from San Antonio, Texas. There he conducted many experiments in immunization using dogs, along with Dr. Dudley Jackson at the Robert B. Green hospital. He suffered several bites, and self immunized with serum to the point where he gave transfusions of his immunized blood to snake bite victims. Colonel Crimmins was an army officer, friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, a “Rough Rider”, herpetologist and in his later years a prolific writer of Texas, western and military history. His 1959 biography is called “In the Path of Events with Colonel Martin Lalor Crimmins, Soldier, Naturalist, Historian”.
Martin Lalor Crimmins, center below.
One of the dozen listed here who have had “venominme” but the one who put this website together. Another Haast protégé, I began collecting venomous snakes as soon as I got my drivers license and selling them to the Miami Serpentarium. I did it mostly to just be able to meet him, and if I brought snakes I didn’t have to pay the admission to get in! I began immunizing with pygmy and diamondback rattlesnake venom at eighteen, and coral snake venom. I was bitten by a small Eastern diamondback rattlesnake after my third booster. I didn’t want to go to the hospital, to test my immunity. I didn’t have any. My leg swelled from my toes to my butt and I ended up in the hospital for four days, and received ten vials of antivenom. I didn’t start immunizing again until April 2008 with the coral snake immunization documented in my paper called “Venom, Antivenom and Immunity”. I have also immunized with death adder, Indian cobra, Wagler’s temple viper, Southern copperhead and water moccasin venoms. My primary interest is in the medical applications of the results seen in the immunizers, not the venoms themselves. I believe our immune systems can be trained or directed to respond to conditions or afflictions that are mimicked by certain snake venoms. The key to diseases (which I believe are allergies) like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and Myasthenia Gravis might be an exact recipe of venoms administered as you would in immunotherapy, to trigger your own ability to produce the exact resistance.
Here's a picture during filming of the Animal Planet show "The Man Who Injects Venom",
with Ray "Cobraman" Hunter, Steve Ludwin and Myself.