Venomous vipers found in Sarasota home lead to charges

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Should you be allowed to own exotic, potentially dangerous animals?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) removed seven reptiles from an unlicensed man last week. FWC investigators charged Nick Mitchell with unlawful possession of seven venomous reptiles and several other violations related to the care, keeping and labeling of his animals. The animals, including a gila monster, black monocled cobra, rhino viper, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, black neck spitting cobra and two banded cobras, were seized and placed at a local licensed facility.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 7:47 am

SARASOTA, FL-- Why would anyone keep deadly venomous snakes in their home?

It's a question being asked after fish and wildlife officers confiscated seven such snakes from a Suncoast resident.

Duke Semilof can sleep a little bit easier, knowing that state wildlife officials confiscated seven, very deadly snakes from inside his neighbor's home on Misty Oaks Boulevard.

“They don't think there's anything wrong with it, but they don't take into consideration what the other people in the park do.”

20-year-old Nick Mitchell is charged with the unlawful possession of seven venomous reptiles and several other violations related to the care, keeping and labeling of his snakes.

His animals, including a gila monster, black monocled cobra, rhino viper, dusky pygmy rattlesnake, black neck spitting cobra and two banded cobras, were seized and placed at a local licensed facility. 

“He's a young man who has always been adventurous in what he has done,” said neighbor Semilof.

In a statement from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Captain Leandro Isambert said, "Removing these reptiles was important to protect public safety and the well-being of the animals. We're fortunate no one was hurt and we were able to get them to a safe facility where they will be well cared for."

Mitchell does have a great deal of experience with animals. He's a zoo keeper at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.

He told us over the phone that he has trained with the snakes for years, and his license is in the process of being approved in Tallahassee.

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