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Suffolk man bitten by pet rattlesnake, SPCA says

A 22-year-old Suffolk man was bitten one of

A 22-year-old Suffolk man was bitten one of two snakes he owned, a 2-foot, western diamondback rattlesnake, shown above, on Friday March 20, 2015, the SPCA said. Credit: SPCA

A Manorville man was bitten in the eyelid Friday by one of his two pet rattlesnakes and may suffer permanent injuries from the venom, authorities said Tuesday.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said he will remain hospitalized this week.

The rattler owner, 22, was handling a 2-foot western diamondback when he was bitten in the morning and was unable to get help until about seven hours later, officials said.

"The victim put the rattlesnake back in its enclosure, then passed out," said DEC spokeswoman Aphrodite Montalvo. "He regained consciousness hours later and called 911."

A rattler's venom usually causes immediate problems, such as tissue damage, paralysis and low blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It is illegal to own rattlesnakes in the state without a permit, Montalvo said, and it was not immediately clear if the man had permits. DEC investigators have not been able to interview him, she said.

Suffolk SPCA chief Roy Gross said his agency placed the western diamondback and a 16-inch prairie rattlesnake, which is also venomous, at an out-of-state reptile sanctuary. He said rattlesnakes should not be kept as domestic pets.

In 2013, the SPCA, DEC and other agencies began hosting "amnesty days" so people could turn in wild and exotic animals, no questions asked.

"There's a reason why these are illegal," Gross said. "This man could have died."

Environmental crimes may be reported to the DEC at 631-444-0250. Animal crimes in Suffolk may be reported to 631-382-SPCA.

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