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


The owner of a venomous cobra that escaped Monday night from an enclosure in Ocala, Florida, has all the proper licensing required to own dangerous reptiles.

Brian Purdy is one of the 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.

>> Read more trending stories

A snake handler at Reptile World in St. Cloud told WFTV that she has worked 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.

We're at Reptile World in St. Cloud getting a look at 1 of 100 Cobras on site. Crews still searching for a missing Cobra in Ocala. @WFTV pic.twitter.com/WtbwSL5lfD

— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) March 14, 2017

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that 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.

>> Related: 'Extremely venomous' cobra escapes from Florida home, police say

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

Officials with FWC said Purdy owns a license for the missing cobra. He also has licenses for a gaboon viper and an African bush viper.

Here's a look at the 24" Cobra that escaped its enclosure last night around 9pm in Ocala. @WFTV pic.twitter.com/svCOxH3ZRV

— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) March 14, 2017

Records show that 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.

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

Officials with FWC do annual inspections for reptile owners.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Anonymous donor buys every toy at Goodwill, gives them to children
Anonymous donor buys every toy at Goodwill, gives them to children

For nearly a decade, an anonymous donor has bought every toy in a Goodwill so that any child who walks through the door leaves with something.  Children who walked into the store on Saturday were invited to choose a toy, stuffed animal or a book, according to The Coloradoan. Tarryn Henkelman, 6, was able to replace her recently broken scooter...
Bullied boy's confessional video resonating across the globe
Bullied boy's confessional video resonating across the globe

Holding back tears, a Tennessee boy asked a simple question.  "Just out of curiosity -- why do they bully? What's the point of it," said Keaton Jones.  Keaton's confessional video about bullying has been watched more than 17 million times. His mother posted it on Facebook after Keaton asked to make a video about bullying. She was...
3 doctors aboard flight save unresponsive woman
3 doctors aboard flight save unresponsive woman

A Tampa woman said she is grateful to three doctors who saved her life during a flight home from Vietnam. Debbie Taylor said she started feeling sick on the plane and then became unresponsive. That's when three doctors administered CPR until the pilot could make an emergency landing in Alaska. "It feels really good to be alive," Taylor said...
Disney releases details on new gondola system, Disney Skyliner
Disney releases details on new gondola system, Disney Skyliner

Disney released new details and visuals on the gondola system that will connect some of its theme parks and hotels at Walt Disney World. The Disney Parks and Resorts Blog released information on the gondola system, called the Disney Skyliner.  Each cabin will showcase Disney characters and stations will be spread out throughout the park to give...
Same income, but not taxes in GOP plans
Same income, but not taxes in GOP plans

In most places, a dollar is a dollar. But in the tax code envisioned by Republicans, the amount you make may be less important than how you make it. Consider two chefs working side by side for the same catering company, doing the same job, for the same hours and the same money. The only difference is that one is an employee, the other an independent...
More Stories