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RAPID CITY - Reptile Gardens' most venomous resident will make its national television debut tonight on the National Geographic Channel.

The snake is an inland taipan, the most venomous species of land snake in the world. That is why the film crew from National Geographic Channel came to Reptile Gardens in September.

They were filming for tonight's program, "Dangerous Encounters: Deadliest Snakes," and they needed an inland taipan.

"They had a choice: They could go to Australia, or they could come to Reptile Gardens," Reptile Gardens' Johnny Brockelsby said.

Reptile Gardens curator Terry Phillip worked with the film crew for several hours. He took the deadly snake outdoors. He handled it for the crew and milked some venom from its fangs. The venom was mixed with a drop of human blood from one of the producers to demonstrate its power.

The blood gelled up and turned into something that resembles putty.

"It's pretty gross," Phillip said.

In the program, National Geographic Channel reptile expert Brady Barr approaches seven of the world's most deadly snakes to determine the deadliest. His criteria: size, volume and toxicity of venom, personality, and number of human deaths.

The inland taipan wins the toxic-venom contest hands-down. Its venom is 770 times more powerful than that of the diamondback rattlesnake. Reptile Gardens acquired its inland taipan in 2004. It is believed to be the only specimen in the Western Hemisphere.

The National Geographic Channel program will air tonight at 7 p.m., according to listings of Midcontinent Communications (digital channel 152) and PrairieWave Communications (channel 36).

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