Last Saturday one Floridian teen discovered just how quickly a relationship could turn sour as he kissed his new pet water moccasin for the last time, when it bit him on the face. The Wimauma local, 18-year-old Austin Hatfield, was purportedly admitted to Tampa General Hospital’s emergency room in critical condition according to Fox News 13. Several days prior he had captured the snake a few days prior to the incident from his girlfriend’s yard.
Instead of placing the moccasin in a cage, or a tank with a heat lamp (like a proper pet owner), Hatfield instead kept it in a pillowcase, taking it out only to show off in front of his friends by kissing the venomous snake before putting it away. Another problem with this picture is how he had no clue when the last time the snake had eaten, and as any snake owner will tell you, a hungry snake is an aggressive snake.
Friend Jason Belcher stated, “He took it out, put it on his chest and it was acting funny, and it jumped up and got him. He ripped it off his face, threw it on the ground and he started swelling up immediately. It was pretty frightening.” Doctors have since brought Hatfield to a stable condition and are expecting a full recovery.
Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are currently investigating the matter, as capturing and keeping any type of cottonmouth without a permit is illegal throughout the state. Gary Morse, spokesperson for the FWC has stated that the boy could face charges if the investigation proves what his friends have already stated.
Cottonmouths are dangerous and very poisonous snakes that are known to have caused fatalities due to the body’s extreme reaction to their venom. The most common symptoms from a cottonmouth bite can range from extreme swelling, shock (or signs thereof) and intense pain. If you see one of these snakes your best bet is to call a local wildlife removal service, or you could end up in worse condition than you may think should it manage to bite you.