DeLand, Florida: Reptile Discovery Center - Venom Collecting

Watch poisonous snakes give their venom to science at the coaxing of a strong-handed snake-wrangler.
Address:
2710 Big John Drive, DeLand, FL
Directions:
I-4 exit 116. Drive west on Orange Camp Rd for one mile. Turn right onto MLK Jr Drive and drive north for 5.5 miles, then turn right onto International Speedway Blvd and drive a little over two miles, then turn right onto Big John Drive.
Hours:
Th-Su 10 am - 5 pm. Snakes milked 11:30 am, 3 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
386-740-9143
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Visitor Tips and News About Reptile Discovery Center - Venom Collecting

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Coral snake milking.

Reptile Discovery Center

This place was cool! The man handled snakes like he was washing dishes in the sink!

A low level building welcomed us with a red sign on the door, "DANGER - POISONOUS REPTILES," just below the business hours. The gift shop teased us with everything snake related - wind up, lighted, wiggling, realistic ceramic - and tantalized us with authentic fangs, rattles and shed skins.

The decor was akin to a doctor's office or professional suite. Right on time, at 3 pm, a lab door swung open and a man dressed in khaki safari shorts and a cool shirt began speaking. He rattled off tidbits of info about the center, the reptiles, a brief story about their work, as he held up two pythons at shoulder level. Turns out that the man is The Man that founded this center, Carl Barden. We were allowed to hold and pass around live animals that were not deadly at their current age.

Starting with small coral snakes, Carl deftly grabbed and extracted venom from these poisonous snakes with his teammate Denisse, three of each specimen, including cobras and rattlers. Big snakes. Toothy, aggressive snakes. The need to be precise was obvious, alternately holding and corralling and inserting the feeding tube and hooking the fangs on the vase.

During the procedures, Carl and Denisse looked over each snake and performed maintenance such as shed skin removal, feeding each snake a high protein mix, even removing the eye caps from the Monocle Cobra that was left behind after shedding its skin.

They presented one of the most professional, interesting stops on our trip. Denisse single-handedly cares for the poisonous frogs. Carl admits he's just a snake guy, who's been bit five times.

[Mark Igel, 04/10/2011]

Milking the King Cobra for venom.

Snake Milking - Reptile Discovery Center

Venom production Laboratory in Deland is family-owned and operated. We got to touch snakes, lizards and even a baby alligator. They have over 2 dozen snakes on exhibit. King cobras, Gaboon Vipers, Mambas and all kinds of snakes from all over the world. On their nature trail they do feeding demonstrations with the alligators and tortoises.

Great place for education and conservation enthusiasts if you are near Daytona or Deland or any of the surrounding areas.

[Disa Sacks, 01/09/2010]
Reptile Discovery Center - Venom Collecting

Carl Barden gave up his job as an airline pilot to pursue his real passion in life: squeezing venom out of poisonous snakes. To share his dream with the world -- or specifically anyone driving between Orlando and Daytona Beach, Florida -- he turned his home and property into Reptile Discovery Center. Opened in 2009, it features indoor and outdoor reptiles and twice-a-day venom collection shows, which take place inside a room with safety glass windows.

[RoadsideAmerica.com Team, 12/16/2009]

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