Snakes are not the only animals we encounter during our fieldwork. We work with many other animals, including lizards, spiders, scorpions, crocodiles, fish and amphibians. I was especially pleased to find a wild gilamonster (Heloderma suspectum) in the Sonora desert of Arizona. Thanks to my good friends Roger Repp and Hans-Werner Herrmann. Nothing beats local knowledge.
This famous lizard is venomous and capable of causing a lot of pain, perhaps even death. The venom glands are located in the lower jaw, in contrast with the venomous snakes that have their venom glands in the upper jaw. The gilamonster's strong jaws are difficult to get loose, if it hangs on your hand. But with its granular skinn bright colors, and slow movements, this animal is special. Their slow movements can be deceptive, though, as they can run faster than anybody would imagine!
Some of the spiders and scorpions we come across can be highly dangerous, but most are harmless. Most tarantulas are harmless. Their bite is like a bee sting. The most venomous spider is the Sydney funnelweb spider (Atrax robustus). The fangs of this species can puncture a human nail, it is said. Awesome!
Milking spiders and scorpions is a totally different ball game from milking snakes.
With spiders, the best way to go is to obtain the venom that drips out of the fangs in 'aggressive' (actually, defensive) specimens. This works particularly well with funnelweb spiders. Alternatively, the spider can be grabbed bare-handed and forced to bite into a dish, as with snakes. Scorpions are now usually milked through a new electric-shock method. In this method, the telson is given multiple, regular, small eletric currents to stimulate venom secretion from its stinger. This can then be collected in small vials. This method works well with some spiders too.
Working safely with venomous animals comes down to having a good knowledge of the species' behavioural stimuli, which allows you to anticipate their next move. And even then, an accident is always possible. Just like with driving a car, you will never know when you will have a bad day and crash. I actually find it more dangerous to drive my car around in a crowded city, than catching venomous snakes. When driving a car, you are also dependent on other people, who might not be as careful as yourself. When working with venomous snakes, its only between you and the snake. If you are careful, there is not much too worry about, unless you don't know what you are doing.