WEST BABYLON - A West Babylon man was airlifted to a hospital in the Bronx after being bitten by a poisonous snake in his home Monday night.
Officials say the Egyptian saw-scaled viper is one of six venomous snakes that were removed from Richard Downing's home. They say he was also in possession of a cobra and several rattlesnakes.
The 32-year-old was airlifted to Jacobi Medical Center after he says the snake bit him on the finger while he was feeding it. The Bronx hospital was the closest facility with the anti-venom for his snake bite.
Downing received treatment overnight and was able to return home Tuesday morning.
Neighbors in the area tell News 12 that they were shocked to hear about the snake sanctuary in their neighborhood.
Downing described himself as a professional snake handler with 15 years of experience. He said outside his home Tuesday that he "learned a lesson."
"These are animals that should be out in the wild. They're not to be meant as pets. I'm a collector. I collect them. I don't play with them. I don't see them as cats and dogs. But they're dangerous animals and they do not belong in the public's hand," said Downing.
The snakes were brought to Hauppauge before being transferred to a wildlife habitat in Massachusetts.
Environmental Conservation police say Downing did not have a license to own venomous snakes and will face charges.