Society

Teen Pays The Price For Capturing A Venomous Snake And Keeping It As A Pet

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Austin Hatfield, 18, captured a water moccasin, or cottonmouth snake, in Wimauma, Florida. However, rather than contacting a professional to deal with it, Hatfield took a liking to the venomous snake and decided to keep it as a pet.

According to Fox 13, Hatfield was storing the animal in his pillow case when the snake bit him on the mouth, just two days after he caught it. 

"He took it out, put it on his chest and it was acting funny, and it jumped up and got him," said Jason Belcher, one of Hatfield’s friends who was there at the time of the incident.

"He ripped it off his face, threw it on the ground and he started swelling up immediately," Belcher said. "It was pretty frightening. We've done a lot of stuff together. This is the one thing that scared me the most."

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Hatfield was taken to Tampa General Hospital and was in initially listed as being in critical condition, but he has since been upgraded to good condition. He required several antivenom treatments and the snake was euthanized. 

"[Doctors] said that they had to ventilate him so he could breathe because of the swelling. And that was the first thing [I thought] -- is he going to make it?" said Gina Bailey, the mother of Hatfield's girlfriend. "I was very worried. I know that these snakes are very, very poisonous.”

Though Hatfield will recover, he may be facing legal charges since he captured the snake illegally, Yahoo reported.

"People without the experience shouldn't be handling these types of animals,” said Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Officer Baryl Martin."Any type of venomous reptile, besides posing a danger to himself, he could pose a danger to other people, injure other people, that's the whole reason that we have the [permitting] process.”

It takes 1,000 hours of training under the guidance of a licensed expert in order to earn a permit to handle venomous snakes in the state of Florida.

Sources: Yahoo, Fox 13 Image via Fox 13

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