Kevin Clifford Budden (1930 – July 28, 1950) was an amateur Australian herpetologist and snake hunter. Budden was one of the first people to capture a live taipan and died from a snake bite in the process of doing so. His work was instrumental in developing a taipan antivenom.
After leaving school, Budden worked as a retail assistant in Randwick, New South Wales. At this time he joined the Australian Reptile Club and began hunting snakes as a hobby. He built his own snake pit and spent weekends in the bush collecting snakes. In 1948 he caught some 59 snakes and was bitten five times.
Taipan capture and death
In March 1950, Budden traveled to Queensland with two colleagues in an attempt to find and capture a taipan for the purpose of antivenom research. The group had previously visited Cape York and the Northern Territory on a similar quest. On July 27 Budden found a six-foot taipan near Cairns. While attempting to bag the snake, he was bitten on his left thumb. Budden was able to place the captured snake in a bag, and was taken for medical treatment. Although doctors were initially hopeful he would recover, he died the following afternoon.
At the time of Budden's death, there were various rumours about the taipan, but it was not until Budden had captured this specimen that serious consideration was given to the potency of its venom. The captured snake was sent alive to the Commonwealth Research Laboratories in Melbourne, where its venom was successfully milked by zoologist David Fleay, who was at that time the director of Healesville Sanctuary. Venom from the captured taipan was instrumental in researching and developing an antivenom, which became available in 1955.
In a 2014 article published in the Journal of Proteomics, University of Queensland venomologist Bryan Fry reported finding specimens of the venom harvested from the taipan that killed Budden. His study found that the venom had retained its toxicity after almost sixty years in dry storage.
- Specimen D 8175, picture of the taipan Budden caught, as kept by Museums Victoria.
- "Catalogue listing (Kevin Budden papers, 1948-1950)". Library of New South Wales. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- Mirtschin, P. (2006); "The pioneers of venom production for Australian antivenoms", in: Toxicon, Vol. 48, p. 899-918. Retrieved online, 17 June 2017.
- Atfield, Cameron (16 January 2014). "Snake venom keeps its bite 80 years on". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "Catches snakes as a hobby". News. Adelaide, South Australia. 19 January 1949. p. 13. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Taipan Victim's Many Snakebites". Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, New South Wales. 14 August 1950. p. 8. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "Leaving on snake hunt". Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, New South Wales. 30 March 1949. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- "Snake Scalpers". Worker. Brisbane, Queensland. 11 April 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "Taipan "belonga devil"". News. Adelaide, South Australia. 1 August 1950. p. 11. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- Cushing, Nancy; Markwell, Kevin (2010). "5". Snake-Bitten: Eric Worrell and the Australian Reptile Park. University of New South Wales Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978 174223 232 4.
- Orrell, John (26 October 1950). "The Taipan - Deadly Snake on View in Renmark". Murray Pioneer. Renmark, South Australia. p. 11. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "Budden's Parents to Visit Grave". Townsville Daily Bulletin. 12 August 1950. p. 7. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- Williams, David (January 2004). "The Death of Kevin Budden". Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Yong, Ed (January 2014). "80-Year-Old Vintage Snake Venom Can Still Kill". National Geographic. Retrieved 17 January 2014.