Q & A

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December 15, 2003 // UPDATED 11:09 am - April 30, 2007
By: sue rich
sue rich

with Dr. Dan Keyler

Besides developing a vaccine for nicotine addiction at the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation, 914 S. 8th St., Dr. Dan Keyler is a self-taught, world-renown venomous snake and snakebite expert.

Keyler consults with doctors and zoos nationwide and advises the government on such matters as antivenoms. He received a Letter of Commendation for the life-saving information he provided Navy officials during Operation Desert Storm.

What's your favorite snake case? It's not always necessarily someone dying or being saved [most bite victims do not die]. . . [Once] a gentleman in Missouri had this snake collection and he was bitten by this rhinoceros viper, an African species which is kind of an ambush-type of viper. He ended up going to the hospital, and I talked to a physician there and we got the antivenom from the St. Louis Zoo.

Everything was going pretty good until his wife walked into the intensive care unit. She had no idea he had venomous snakes. Then, about 30 minutes later, another woman walked in. She turned out to be his girlfriend; he kept his snakes at her house.

So here he is in a hospital bed, and these two women learn that he wasn't quite so honorable. As the physician put it "He has a lot worse things to deal with than this snakebite."

How do you feel about snakes as pets? Here in Minnesota, most of the bites that have occurred are not by snakes in the wild, they're actually by people who had them in captivity.

Aren't most snakes nonvenomous? In the U.S., yes.

Are there any venomous snakes in Minnesota? The prime native species, what's left of them, is the timber rattlesnake in southeast Minnesota along the Mississippi River Corridor. I've actually been working with the Department of Natural Resources to try to save them. -- sue rich