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.

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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.


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