Bill Haast, injected the venom of various snake species to immunise himself. 20 of these cases were almost fatal and many of them left various scars on his hands.
Since 1917, when he held his first garden snake at the age of 7, more than 3 million snakes have passed through his hands. His desire to explore the species led him to drop out of school and join an entertainment company that organised snake shows.
In 1947, Haast opened the Serpentarium in Miami, where he experimented with snakes, injected their venom and conducted various research. Through this research, Haast helped more than 6,000 people recover from snakebites, using extracts of the venom to produce antivenom. Even without formal training, the North American had an excellent command of snake science and the extraction of venoms.
The self-proclaimed Snake Man had antibodies against many different species of vipers and was able to save the lives of people bitten by the reptiles on 21 different occasions by giving them blood transfusions.
However, he realised that some venoms could even prevent diseases such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis. He believed that these poisons, which he injected into himself every day, would be responsible for him reaching the age of 100 in golden health.
Throughout his career, Haast aimed to educate the public about snakes and dispel common fears about them. He believed that understanding these animals was crucial to their conservation and the development of life-saving antivenoms. Haast’s work contributed significantly to advances in herpetology and snakebite treatment.
Sadly, Bill Haast passed away in 2011 at the age of 100, leaving behind a legacy of dedication and passion for snakes. His influence on snake research and the fight against venomous snakes is still recognised today.