Pet Cobra Bite Sends Owner to Hospital in Critical Condition

25-year-old man bought three snakes -- cobra, copperhead and rattlesnake -- over the weekend

By Brian Thompson
|  Tuesday, Feb 1, 2011  |  Updated 5:41 PM EDT
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A "pet" albino cobra snake bit a New Jersey man Monday morning, sending him to a New York hospital.

The man's wife called Fair Lawn police just after 9 a.m. yesterday, saying her husband had been bitten by what she thought was a copperhead snake.

The 25-year-old victim identified as Eric Bortz was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Paterson before being transferred to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx where he was listed in critical condition.  He is now in serious condition, officials said.

At some point, police and medical personnel determined it was an albino cobra that bit him, not a copperhead.

However, the man had both types of snakes in his home, along with a rattlesnake, all three of which he bought in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

It wasn't immediately clear why the cobra bit him, but Fair Lawn police said in a statement that "ownership of poisonous snakes in New Jersey requires special training and permits to ensure the safety of the owner and the public."

All three snakes have been removed from the house and will be turned over to the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife.    The incident is under investigation by Fair Lawn police

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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