African Snake Bites Man on Staten Island

  • Lucky Man Survives Gaboon Viper Bite
  • Snake Was Illegal
  • Man Had No Permit

New York – A Staten Island was bitten on the hand by a deadly Gaboon Viper (Bitis Gabonica) while the man was

Decapitated head of the Gaboon Viper snake that bite a Staten Island man while cleaning the cage of the snake. The man survived.

cleaning its cage and was transported to Jacobi Medical Center in Bronx County.  The Gaboon viper is a snake species found in the rainforests and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and is venomous.

On March 11, Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) Wesley Leubner was on patrol in Westchester and Putnam counties when he heard a news report of a venomous snake bite in Staten Island.  ECO Leubner contacted Richmond County ECO Michael Hameline regarding the report.

ECO Hameline and ECO JT Rich visited the NYPD 121st Precinct in Staten Island to obtain detailed information about the snake.

After being bitten, the subject cut the snake’s head off with a knife and called 911.  NYPD arrived on scene and located the deceased Gaboon Viper, as well as a Red-Tailed Columbian Boa. Both snakes were secured by NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit and transported to the New York City Animal Care and Control office in Manhattan.

The subject was fortunate that the bite was a “dry” bite, meaning that no venom was injected into his hand.  He was able to check himself out of the hospital Saturday morning.  On March 12, ECOs Hameline and Rich interviewed the subject, who admitted to possessing both snakes without the required permits.  The subject was issued a summons for violating NYC Law pertaining to illegal pets, as well as a summons from the DEC for possessing a venomous reptile without a permit.

The case will be heard in Richmond County Court in May. The deceased vi

A Red-Tail Columbian Boa was also an illegal pet (due to no permit) in the same household.

per was seized into evidence; the constrictor is being cared for by NYC animal care and control.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY E

nvironmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.


In 2016, the 286 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, the black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

“From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling New York State are the first line of defense in protecting New York’s environment and its natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos.  “They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes.  Although they don’t receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC’s mission to protect and enhance our environment.”