This specimen is the first known taipan to have been milked for venom. It was collected on 27 July 1950 by Kevin Budden (often misidentified as Keith Budden in contemporary reports). He had been searching specifically for this species as scientists at the time were extremely interested in obtaining live specimens for research. Taipans are some of the world's most venomous snakes and at the time there was no anti-venom for one of the two venoms they produced.

After catching the snake in scrub near Cairns, Budden carried it back to the road where he flagged down a passing truck. The driver, Jim Harris, took him to the house of local snake expert, Mr Stephens, who confirmed its identity. Budden kept hold of the taipan throughout this journey, but during the transfer of the snake into a holding bag, he lost his grip and was bitten on the hand.

Sadly, Budden died the following day, 28 July 1950, from the effects of the taipan's venom. Before his death he insisted that the snake was kept safe and sent to Melbourne for research.

The snake was shipped to Melbourne where it was milked for the first time on 1 August 1950 at the National Museum of Victoria by David Fleay, Director of Healesville Sanctuary, and Dr. F. C. Morgan, director of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. This was achieved by having the taipan biting into a rubber sheet over the mouth of a medicine jar into which it pumped its venom. The taipan was milked around six times in total.

Only weeks after it arrived in Melbourne the taipan died at Melbourne Zoo and was registered as a specimen in the National Museum of Victoria's collections.

The capture of the snake, Budden's tragic death, the milking of the taipan and its own death were widely reported in the Australian news at the time.

Using the venom milked from this specimen, an effective anti-venom was developed by 1955 and had saved its first life by the end of the year. In 2014 samples of the original venom milked from this specimen were found in a collection at the University of Melbourne's Australian Venom Research Unit. The samples were still toxic and will be of ongoing scientific value.

Specimen Details


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    near Cairns (from Cairns "garbage dump")

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