Wildlife officials charge man over escape of deadly cobra

The monocled cobra is said to be the cause of the highest number of fatalities due to snake venom poisoning in Thailand, which is why it takes 1,000 hours of experience handling one before a venomous reptile permit is granted to own one.

Ian Nesmith of Ocala, Florida, was in the process of earning such a permit when he accidentally allowed a deadly monocled cobra to escape its cage, leading to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission to press charges.

WFTV of Orlando said the FWC found Nesmith “to be in violation of allowing wildlife to escape from an enclosure, cage, leash or other constraint or which results injury to any person.”

Nesmith was a snake apprentice under the snake’s owner, Brian Purdy, when the incident occurred on March 13 at Purdy’s house.

Purdy, who wasn’t home at the time, contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission at 11:15 that night to alert wildlife officials that the 2-foot cobra had escaped its enclosure two hours earlier, News 6 reported.

WFTV described what happened:

Nesmith said he went to check on the snake and initially couldn’t see the cobra in the cage. Nesmith said he opened the cage, placed a clear shield in front of him, used a small hook to lift the water bowl up on the side. The cobra came from the water bowl and began crawling toward the open cage. Nesmith said he freaked out, screamed and tried to hook the snake back inside the cage, but it escaped, investigators said.

The snake’s owner, Brian Purdy, is licensed to have multiple venomous reptiles and said his apprentice, who was learning to handle them, was with the cobra when it escaped.

Purdy keeps his venomous reptiles in a room in the back of the house that is designed to be escape proof, but after an exhaustive search inside the room, house and surrounding neighborhood by Purdy and wildlife officials, the cobra was nowhere to be found.

More than a month later, it is still on the loose.

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It is unclear what consequences the charges against Nesmith might bring. He doesn’t currently have a lawyer, News 6 reported.

Nesmith told News 6 he is ready for all this to be over but refused further comment.