A New Jersey man managed to avoid being a good example of Darwin’s "natural selection," thanks to the help of medical professionals and the Bronx Zoo.
Eric Bortz (who, I’m sad to say, works at a veterinary clinic), purchased three snakes – a copperhead (venomous), a timber rattlesnake (venomous) and a monocled cobra (venomous) – a couple of weekends ago. (Sadly, that’s not hard to do if you have a few hundred dollars.) The snakes joined his collection of pets, including a tarantula, several scorpions, a king snake, a boa constrictor and a rabbit (no word whether the rabbit was a pet or a snake-snack).
Anyway, the following Monday, he was bitten by the newly-acquired cobra. He had apparently been told that the snake had undergone a procedure to render it non-venomous, but it became apparent that it either wasn’t true or it wasn’t done right, when Mr. Bortz went into respiratory distress and started seizuring.
Fortunately, he received prompt medical care and his proximity to the Bronx Zoo facilitated access to antivenin. Zoos are often called in to help out when people get bitten by their venomous snakes, since zoos typically keep a supply of antivenin in case their staff get bitten.
Keeping venomous snakes is just stupid – there’s no reason to do it, and t puts people at risk. The risk is not just to the owners who made the choice to keep the animals, it’s also to other people that might be exposed if the snake gets out, including family members, friends and neighbours, who didn’t make the choice… it’s something that has happened in the past, and will no doubt happen again. Venomous snakes (and other dangerous animals) are also a potential problem for first-responders if there’s been a fire or other incident in the house. There’s absolutely no reason for these creatures to be kept as pets, and no reason that keeping and selling them shouldn’t be met by large fines or other deterrents.