Water Moccasin Bites Man: Teen May Face Charges After ‘Illegal Pet’ Bites Him In The Face

A water moccasin bites a man in the face, nearly killing him, and now authorities say that the man could face charges.

According to the Canada Journal, Austin Hatfield, 18, found the venomous snake while swimming near his Florida home, and decided to make it his new pet. However, in the state of Florida, it is illegal to keep a venomous animal without a permit — and Hatfield did not obtain one.

Of course, the teen may have gotten away with keeping the reptile under wraps had it not bit him in the face. One night, the water moccasin (also known as a cottonmouth) escaped from the pillowcase that his new owner was keeping him in. He slithered right up on Hatfield, who grabbed him, and that’s when the snake attacked.

The water moccasin that bit the man in the face was euthanized for identification purposes. Hatfield is still at Tampa General Hospital recovering from the bite, but he is expected to be okay. As you can see in the video above, the man’s face got extremely swollen, and it is clear that he is lucky to be alive.

According to Mail Online, the cottonmouth snake is very dangerous, and will attack when it feels like it needs to defend itself.

“It really doesn’t want to eat you, but it will protect itself. Cottonmouths have a reputation of being somewhat skittish when you get near them and they will readily defend themselves,” said spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Gary Morse.

If the man who was bit by the water moccasin does end up facing charges, he will likely be forced to pay a fine. According to the Florida Herp Laws, owning a venomous reptile or amphibian without a proper permit can result in a fine of $1,000. It is unclear if the offense is punishable in additional ways.

The water moccasin that bit the man gets its “cottonmouth” nickname from the super white color of the inside of its mouth. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, these particular snakes grow to be about two to three feet in length. They are members of the viper family, and while they aren’t considered as deadly as a rattlesnake, they can still do great harm to a human.

Fortunately, there is an anti-venom for this particular reptile, and that may have been just the thing that saved Hatfield’s life.

[Photo via YouTube]