He took a side job as a business manager of a venom laboratory in Baltimore, and his assignment was to bring back a few hundred snakes for someone else to milk. In his unpublished memoir, 'The Venom Gypsy,' Darnell writes, "Now here I am, a business manager of a venom laboratory who has never even picked up a venomous snake, and I either walk away from the 40 snakes glaring at me through the Plexiglas walls of that 'snake wagon,' or I save the venom for research."
Once he'd milked the first one, he was hooked, and soon Darnell decided that he could run a better venom operation than the Baltimore lab, which was about to go out of business. "I just kept it going," he says. "It's important that somebody does it.Venom saves lives."