"Cobraman" hospitalized following rattlesnake bite

A local snake handler is in critical condition Tuesday morning following a rattlesnake bite.

Ray Hunter is being treated with anti-venom at a St. Lucie County hospital.

His Web site, "Cobraman.net," shows him handling other potentially deadly snakes. He was bitten by one of his pets, a baby diamondback rattlesnake, at his home over the weekend.

"It's really sad; he's really a good guy. It's really sad what's happened to him," says friend Andy James.

Hunter has recovered from other near-fatal bites in the past. The "Cobraman" has all of the required licenses and permits to own the snakes.

Obviously, any encounter with a venomous snake can be deadly. We visited the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary to find out just how dangerous diamondback rattlesnakes are.

Wildlife expert David Hitzig says, "It is considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in our country. The reason for that - the volume of venom that it can deliver in a single bite. This can kill a person and will kill a person without proper treatment."

Hitzig tells us the eastern diamondback rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake not only here in Florida but in the entire U.S.