Deadly snakes taken from Zephyrhills home

ZEPHYRHILLS — Authorities found the small white house like a zoo. With some of the most dangerous members of the animal kingdom contained in plastic boxes.

More than 100 various reptiles were found in Robert John Frank's bedroom and a shed in the yard, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports. Some were dead, FWC officials say. Others had inadequate food and water, the report states. He was licensed to own none of them.

FWC officials got a complaint about the animals about 4 p.m. Thursday. Among the animals taken from the home, at 38250 Ruth Ave., were four Burmese pythons, 8 feet to 10 feet long, two albino monocled cobras and a 10-foot green anaconda.

"You're talking about having cobras in cages that were insufficient," said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman.

The monocled cobra's venom is considered highly toxic, even deadly, according to thailandsnakes.com. Even a drop of venom, the website says, can cause severe harm.

Frank also had no acquisition documents — papers stating where the animal came from, who they were bought from, and how they were purchased — for any of the reptiles, Morse said. His licenses to own the venomous snakes had expired, too.

FWC officials came to Frank's house Wednesday night and arrested him. They moved his snakes to another person's house who has a license, Frank said.

He was taken to the Land O'Lakes jail on 15 charges of violating FWC rules and two charges of possessing a venomous reptile without a license. He was released without bail.

Frank, 44, says he just forgot about the licenses, which have to be renewed yearly. He said he didn't have his snakes in locked and labeled containers, which accounted for some for the violations.

Frank said he was told that an FWC official was checking through licenses and noticed his were expired. That, he says, is what brought them to his door.

He used to be a reptile dealer, but, he said, he keeps them as pets now. He has a few monitor lizards and two raccoons as well.

"I'm a normal person," said Frank, who works in construction. "I work a normal job. I like to have (the reptiles) because no one else can. I keep it all to myself."

Frank said he plans to get his license renewed as soon as he can, so he can get his snakes back.

Alex Orlando can be reached at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.\

Deadly snakes taken from Zephyrhills home 11/09/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 9, 2012 8:32pm]

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