Never a bite. Just a few narrow escapes.

Authored by Diana Barr

Share On:

Diana in action in the snake house in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

You would think people who mitigate snakebite would hate snakes, having seen the pain, suffering and mortality they inadvertently inflict upon hundreds of thousands of people around the world every year. But in fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Personally, I love snakes. I find them beautiful and fascinating, so working with them is a privilege. They play a crucial role in healthy ecosystems by controlling vermin and disease and their venoms provide important compounds for pharmaceuticals. Snakes most definitely deserve our respect and conservation efforts. Moreover, their venom must be collected to facilitate research and the production of lifesaving antivenom. To date, I’ve never been bitten. I’ve had plenty of narrow escapes though.

In this line of work, if you make the same mistake twice you should seriously consider a career change. There’s no room for error.

Diana performing extractions at the Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Watamu, Kenya.


I’ve milked thousands of snakes over the years, and love the challenge of tackling a new species. Implementing strict work protocols (SOPS), expecting the unexpected and having contingency plans for every possible hiccup have served me well. I particularly enjoy passing my knowledge and skills on to other snake handlers, ensuring they stay safe whilst putting their own lives in danger in order to save the lives of others.

Saving lives in Papua New Guinea.

I really hope we can generate the political and financial support we need to meet the WHOs roadmap goal of halving global snakebite death and disability statistics by the year 2030.

Please help us raise the profile of this Neglected Tropical Disease!

Talk about snakebite. Flood social media.

Every voice counts!


This blog was written as part of the Women Champions of Snakebite campaign, supported by the Lillian Lincoln Foundation, Health Action International and Global Snakebite Initiative.


This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Licence. View a copy of this licence at