Venomous snakes seized from Sarasota man

Sarasota, Florida -- Seven venomous reptiles were removed from a Sarasota home last week and are in a safe facility, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Among the seized animals: A spitting cobra, sinister and deadly, aims for its victim's eyes. A single drop can cause blindness. Wildlife officials found one inside the Sarasota home along with a gila monster, a monocled cobra, a rhinoceros viper, and pygmy rattlesnake and two banded cobras.

"If the animals escaped, they could have hurt someone, said Officer Baryl Martin of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

REVIEW: FWC rules for captive wildlife

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers confiscated the venomous reptiles and charged 20-year-old Nick Mitchell with unlawful possession of seven venomous reptiles and several other violations related to their care, according to the agency. Each violation is a misdemeanor and punishable by up to $500 in fines and 60 days in jail.

"He did pose a danger to himself as well as his neighbors because he didn't have the right training and was not licensed," said Martin.

GET HELP: Who to contact about nuisance wildlife

Mitchell lived with his parents, and neighbors had only good things to say.

"Nick had reptiles over there, I just didn't think any dangerous ones, so it does surprise me, but he's a really nice young man and we've never had any problems with him in the neighborhood,' said a neighbor.

Officials say Mitchell bought the animals at an out-of-state reptile show.

These animals are usually kept for educational reasons or to create anti-venin, but sometimes fall into the hands of the wrong people.

"That's why it's extremely important they're regulated properly," said Martin.

To report violations, call the FWC at 888-404-3922.


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