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: NorthJersey.com) 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