This is a critical question that everyone collecting venomous animals needs to consider seriously. Collecting animals that have medically significant venom may cause death, permanent bodily injury, or extreme financial debt, or even the last two combined! You need to seriously consider and have a detailed plan of what to do if you are bitten or stung by one of your venomous animals. Professionals and experienced keepers who work daily with dangerously venomous animals still are bitten. So the question comes to all who collect venomous animals; should we have antivenom for every species of venomous animals that we own?
There are many opinions on this matter; the only reason why we do not merely say “yes” is because there are many things that make it challenging to purchase antivenom. A few examples include; each venom requires specific antivenom; therefore, it may be costly for an individual to purchase antivenom for all the species that they own. Also, the collector will probably need to purchase multiple vials of antivenom because one will almost certainly not be sufficient for most envenomations. Importing foreign antivenom may be a lengthy and costly arrangement, finding a hospital to work with maybe a problem, and there may be difficulty acquiring antivenom in certain countries, etc. These are only a few issues that collectors face when purchasing antivenom for their private collections.
Most will say that you do not need antivenom for every venomous animal that you own. For example, I have never heard of anyone ever having antivenom for even their worst tarantulas. As far as we know, there are no recorded deaths from any tarantula bite ever. However, some tarantula venom is very toxic to humans (Old World Species). I would consider animals like these to be the first level of the pyramid of what animals need antivenom, and that is, we do not consider antivenom for them because we do not need it, and they probably do not even make antivenom for tarantulas anyways. (1)
The Second Level: what about venomous invertebrates (scorpions, spiders, centipedes, etc.) that have certainly killed people? Because of the nature of invertebrates, probably the vast majority of collectors do not have antivenom, even for their most dangerous invertebrates. I have had species of phoneutria, latrodectus, parabuthus, etc. and never had intentions of purchasing antivenom. I have also never heard of any other collector having antivenom for them either. While antivenom for such animals does exist, most of it will be found in the countries where these animals naturally are found.
The Third Level: So what about venomous snakes? That is, in my opinion, where the tables start to turn. Snakes are different in that they can strike and cross distances at a much faster rate than invertebrates making them much more dangerous. Also, snakes are larger and can inject a greater quantity of venom than invertebrates. Nevertheless, even with venomous snakes, the majority of collectors still do not purchase antivenom. It is merely a risk they take, perhaps like a job hazard; it has not deterred people from having them.
All serious venomous collectors know that nothing is full proof; there is always the possibility of being bitten. However, there are ways to care for such animals that will minimize the chances of being bitten to extremely unlikely. Therefore, most collectors feel comfortable never purchasing antivenom and just using extreme caution.
Conclusion: If you have the resources or you are in doubt, purchase antivenom. Just do it; it will help you sleep at night. You can approach the problem step by step; if you want to acquire antivenom, start the process and take it one step at a time. Please do your research, save money, and apply for it. Do not catastrophize, a real and easy bad way of thinking. Start the process, and before you know it, you will be waiting for the antivenom to arrive; remember; you can do it.
In my opinion, you do not need antivenom for everything, but I do strongly suggest having antivenom for certain extreme species, mainly snakes, and a very fast way to get to it. In the end, it is up to you. Life was meant to be dangerous; that is why things are the way they are, do not forget that. If you want to take the risk of no antivenom, I understand, it is your choice. However, you will face the consequences of your choice, whether you save money or you die. Also, keep in mind; your decisions affect other people as well; your loved ones, of course, but also, whomever you take antivenom from and all the other resources you use for not being prepared beforehand. Ultimately, it is cheaper for everyone for the collector to buy their own antivenom and be prepared beforehand.
What are Your Thoughts?
It would be great to hear your opinion on the matter! If you disagree, please contact me or leave a comment below, but please be appropriate and mature about it. Thank you!
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth