Pet cobras: What it takes to own a venomous reptile in Florida

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OCALA, Fla. - The Ocala owner of a venomous cobra that escaped Monday night has all the proper licensing required to own dangerous reptiles.

Brian Purdy is one of more than 280 people in Florida who are licensed to own the dangerous animals.

A cobra’s bite, if not treated, can kill a victim within an hour.

A snake handler at Reptile World in St. Cloud said she’s been working with hundreds of cobras at a time for 20 years, and she’s never been bitten.

She said the snakes are typically shy, tend to hide from people and only strike if threatened.

 

 

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the process a person must go through in order to own a venomous reptile is rigorous.

Owners must complete at least 1,000 hours of experience with venomous reptiles and provide two reference letters from license holders.

They also have to develop a bite plan and a disaster plan in case the reptile escapes.

MORE: 9 Facts about the Monocled Cobra

FWC said Purdy owns a license for the missing cobra and licenses for a gaboon viper and an African bush viper.

Records show he has a clean inspection history by the state, which requires two levels of captivity.

The snakes must be kept in some kind of enclosure, and that cage or crate must then be contained inside an escape-proof room or outbuilding.

Purdy’s last inspection was in December. 

A king cobra escaped from Mike Kennedy’s Orlando home in September 2015, and was captured about a month later when a woman found the snake underneath her dryer.

Kennedy’s trial is set to start Wednesday. He’s facing three misdemeanor charges for the cobra’s escape.

Watch: Elvis the king cobra captured

Since then, the state added enclosure requirements, more regulations on handling venomous reptiles, and restrictions for facilities that refuse inspections.

FWC does annual inspections for reptile owners.