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Man Bitten by Pet Cobra Recovering

Eric Bortz, a New Jersey man, was bitten by his pet albino monocled cobra early this week. He is still recovering at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

At first, Bortz didn’t believe it to be a serious situation because the person he bought it from told him the venom sacs had been surgically removed. Several hours after being bitten, though, he started having seizures and then began turning gray. He also was not breathing normally. The venom in this type of cobra uses a neurotoxin to paralyze prey. It can cause disorientation, loss of muscle coordination, paralysis, respiratory failure and death.

The dangerous snake had only been purchased last week. Their price is generally about $500. Owning these snakes in New Jersey is illegal however. Enforcement of such laws can prove difficult because of websites advertising and selling exotic snakes that can be administered in other states. Snakes are shipped or transported by new owners after traveling to purchase them.

“No matter how long an animal is in captivity or around people, they’re still a wild animal. In captivity, their instincts are frustrated. They’re like ticking time bombs. They will harm people,” said Monica Engebretson who works at an animal protection organization. (Source: The New Jersey man was lucky. In 2004 an Ohio woman died after being bitten by her pet viper. (She also had a collection of pet poisonous snakes in the home.)

Albino monocled cobras are about five to seven feet long at maturity. They eat small prey such as rodents typically. They live normally in Asia, but sometimes are imported to be sold as exotic pets. The cobra that bit his owner was purchased in Pennsylvania, where laws regulating such animals are more lax than they are in New Jersey. Authorities are investigating the case, after visiting the victim’s home where they also found a copperhead, and a timber rattlesnake. Both of these snakes are also venomous and dangerous, particularly the rattlesnake. According to Bortz’s employee biography on the Park Ridge Animal Hospital website, he also owns a tarantula, and two Emperor Scorpions, which are venomous.

This video was reportedly made by the man who was bitten.

Image Credit: SMcCandlish

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3:17PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

The thought of it makes my heart palpitate! I'm deathly afraid of snakes eventhough not in a dangerous area. All due to my older brother's tantalizing and throwing a farm snake at me when I was apparently around 9-1/2 yrs. of age. I've never recovered from it and found out about it by accident when he mentioned it. I'd blocked it out. I'm terrified of any kind of them and am startled even with a picture appearing on a page. I might add I have not looked at this video or the snake in question but can only imagine.

5:21PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

Don't keep wild animals as pets!

8:52PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

It's lesson for himself and animal lovers of the world. I hope he learned embittered lesson already and recovery soon.cheers

5:41PM PST on Feb 18, 2011

I hope he has a full recovery and has learned a lesson!!

9:11PM PST on Feb 17, 2011

This animal should be in his natural Habitat in the Wild!!!!!!!

9:58AM PST on Feb 15, 2011

If one wants to keep a pet , for the love and loyalty it gives back, there are so many cute , clean , gentle and affectionate animals around , who need shelter and protection. Instead of caring for one of them, why go for a dangerous wild animal who can only hate us for keeping it in captivity.Strange are human tastes!

6:23AM PST on Feb 15, 2011

If you mess around with a bull you can EXPECT to be horned; if you mess around with snakes you can EXPECT to be bitten!!! It is logic!!!

12:41AM PST on Feb 14, 2011

I hate snakes, but I felt sorry for this one! If you terrorize something, how do you expect it to react? I definitely felt sorry for the snake!!!

10:10PM PST on Feb 13, 2011

why are people allowed to keep exotic pets? these animals deserve their freedom in the wild!

3:55PM PST on Feb 10, 2011

Not surprised this guy got bitten if he teased it like this.

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