There are more than 600 species of snakes in the world. In Lubbock, only federal agencies, wildlife refuges or breeders/dealers can legally own venomous snakes. Multiple locations in Lubbock do legally house these lethal reptiles.
"It can be life threatening if you get bit," Kevin Phodes said. Rhodes is the curator of life sciences at Lubbock's Science Spectrum. "Thankfully, the state of Texas has permitting involved right now for venomous non-indigenous snakes. Any snake that we have here that's venomous we have behind lock and key, it's not where anyone can publicly access. We do a good job to make sure there is no way that they would be able to get out of a cage or even close to that."
"There are several different layers of regulation, depending on where you live, from the state, all the way up from the federal and down through the city," Walter's World of Pets owner Ryan Blakley explained. "I have several and I don't think of them as pets. They're animals, they're creatures but they're not something I play with or pet. Like everything else, there's a protocol."
Rhodes says from experience that he does not believe having venomous snakes as pets is a smart decision.
"I've been in the pet-reptile industry since I was a kid and I've had all kinds of snakes, I've even owned venomous snakes, personally, and I do not recommend it," Rhodes said. "The average person shouldn't own a tiger, even though they can go somewhere and buy one. It's just that potential risk involved that's high, not only for you and your family or whoever is around your home, but if there's an escape, there's that risk too."
Blakley disagrees. He said it is okay for 99.9% of venomous snake owners to own the lethal animals. Blakley said the cobra escape in Round Rock near Austin is a rarity.
"Anytime you get someone doing something illegal, it's a black eye. It doesn't matter what the hobby is, it's just bad for everybody involved," Blakley said. "Venomous snake bites in the United States four to six people die. You are nine times more likely to die by lightning. Worldwide, more than 3 million people die from mosquitoes. I couldn't find the statistic for the United States, but I know people who got West Nile and that is not fun stuff."
If you encounter a snake, especially a dangerous or venomous one, call Animal Services at 806-775-2057.
"They are as scared of us as we are of them. They're biggest goal is to get away from you. If you encounter a venomous, which around here would probably be a rattler, you're going to hear it, they will warn you, just like a dog barking to say you are in my area, they're rattle their rattle to say you're too close, I'm not comfortable, go away," assistant director of Lubbock Animal Services explained. "If it's in your yard or it's in your house, go ahead and call us."