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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 06-17-2005, 10:41 AM   #1
Clay Davenport
'Snake Man' loses his cobra

ATHENS "I know the son of a gun's poisonous, and he's not from around here," Sheriff Mike Blakely said Wednesday about his latest prisoner.

Blakely said someone called the sheriff's office about a resident on Nuclear Plant Road having the snake. Officers served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon and found three rattlesnakes, more than 20 boa constrictors and the rear fanged water cobra, investigator Randy King said.

Capt. Johnny Johnson with Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries said his office has charged Turner Davis "T.D." Roberts, 61, with possession of a non-indigenous venomous reptile. Johnson said water cobras are native to Asia and parts of Africa.

"They spread out at the head when they're mad, but they are not related to the cobras most people think about," Johnson said.

When Athens police animal control officer Lt. Ron Ultz coaxed the water cobra out of its wooden box in the Sheriff's Department parking lot, the snake did expand its head.

It did not strike at the grips Ultz used.

Johnson said Roberts kept the water cobra in a wooden box inside a glass aquarium. His other snakes also were in aquariums. It is not illegal for Roberts to have the rattlesnakes and boa constrictors.

"He says he just likes snakes," Johnson said.

Three years ago, Alabama made it illegal to own non-native venomous snakes because it is a public safety risk, Johnson said. Roberts bought the water cobra 11 years ago from a Cullman man, Johnson said.

"I don't know that we have any anti-venom for a cobra bite anywhere in the state," Johnson said. "You could die within hours of getting bit without it."

Sgt. Travis Gray, the wildlife officer assigned to Limestone County, said the department called Roberts about the new law three years ago.

"We told him to get rid of it (the cobra)," Gray said.

Blakely said Roberts is infamous in Limestone County.

"T.D. is known as 'Snake Man' and for doing things like making a lamp out of his wife's amputated leg," Blakely said. "T.D. has been in jail for all kinds of charges, but this is the first time for having a cobra, that I know of."

According to Sheriff's Department records, Limestone has arrested Roberts in the past for drug trafficking and assault.

Johnson said Roberts won't face jail time for having the water cobra. He said the maximum fine he will face is $500. His court date will be Aug. 5.

Johnson said the department will either euthanize the water cobra or see if a zoo permitted to have such snakes will take it.

Old 06-18-2005, 08:26 AM   #2
Clay Davenport
A followup to the story. As I was suspecting, the snake is only a false water cobra. It's most unfortunate that the snake lost its life for the sake of only being venomous in the technical sense and having the word cobra as part of its name.

Snake confiscated in Limestone County frozen as evidence

A snake confiscated from the home of a Limestone County man has been frozen for use as evidence in court proceedings Aug. 5, state game officials said.

Turner "Snake Man" Roberts, 61, of Athens, was arrested and charged Wednesday afternoon with possessing the snake, which authorities said was poisonous and not native to this country.

Capt. Johnny Johnson with the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the snake, described as a rear fanged water cobra, could have bitten someone. He said authorities decided it was best to freeze it because they could not find a zoo in the area that wanted it.

Roberts is charged with possession of a non-indigenous venomous reptile in violation of Alabama law. Acting on a tip, authorities discovered the cobra in a cage in his home. If convicted, he could receive a fine of up to $500.

Brett Daniels, senior biologist with Palm Springs Biological Services in Florida, told the News-Courier of Athens the snake is not a member of the cobra family. "Though it is considered venomous in the technical sense, it is extremely unlikely that a bite would result in anything more than a mild irritation" unless one was allergic to it, he said.

Old 06-19-2005, 02:16 PM   #3
Rebel Dragons
Makes you wonder how far they actually looked in locating a zoo that wanted it. I am sure there is a zoo somewhere in the south that would have taken it on.

It's a shame it was put down. I can't stand those "anonymous tips"

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