CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - A Charlotte County man is in the hospital after being bit by a Monocled Cobra. According to wildlife authorities, 39-year old Francis Costello was cleaning a cage at a permitted facility when the venomous snake attacked.
The reptile enthusiast Francis Costello, who goes by Frank, was rushed to the Peace River Medical Center in Port Charlotte when he was bit. The Miami-Dade Fire Department sent 12 vials of antivenin Sunday morning to counteract the deadly effects.
Wink News spoke to wildlife expert Steve Masek who knows firsthand just how dangerous these cobras can be. Masek is the Head Animal Care Director at the Calusa Nature Center and also keeps cobras at his home.
"These are a fixed-fang animal, when they get you man they are gonna get you with everything they got and try to hang on like a pitbull, wham they nail you and they start juicing you," said Masek.
"When they hit you they are gonna try to give you everything they got all in one shot and it don't take a lot to kill you," Masek said.
"A lot of it depends on the person, how long they've been doing it, how comfortable they are and sometimes being a little too comfortable they could wind up paying a bad price," he said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Costello was cleaning a snake cage at a permitted facility in Port Charlotte when the Monocled Cobra struck.
Masek, who's been bitten the same type of snake, says the wait is agonizing.
"I was in a coma for two days. I woke up. I had the tube down my thoat. I could open my eyes and I could see and hear but I couldn't move my body," he said.
Wink News stopped by Costello's home in Port Charlotte and Ridgeway Exotics, where the potentially deadly encounter occurred. Neighbors say he had been talking about adding cobras to his collection for some time.
"I didn't know that he had gotten them, but I know that he had been working on getting them," said neighbor Paul Rockhill. And say even after this brush with death, they don't expect Costello will shy away from snakes.
"They are cobras, they are dangerous. Frank knows the dangers of it and it's unfortunate, but I doubt it will sour him on working with the reptiles, he loves it," said Rockhill.
FWC is investigating the case.
According to Steve Masek, only those with permits are allowed to have those types of animals in Florida.