On YouTube, 28-year-old Brandon Joseph Boyles went by “VenomMan20”. Now, he goes by “defendant”. Maryland Natural Resources Police have charged the former zoo worker with multiple counts of illegal possession of venomous snakes and animal cruelty.
Boyles worked at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve until September, and is believed to have taken a crocodile, three alligators and five venomous snakes that he owned with him when he left. While raiding his home, officers say they found multiple neglected animals and almost a dozen highly venomous snakes, including a 2m forest cobra, two boomslangs and six diamondback rattlesnakes – any of which have “the potential to deliver a fatal bite to humans”.
According to UPI, authorities began investigating Boyles after watching his “VenomMan20” videos, which show him handling various venomous snakes and other reptiles. The channel hasn’t been updated since December, but has more than 21,000 subscribers.
In one video, Boyles is seen “unboxing” two cobras. “In today’s video, we’re going to not only be taking a look at a snake that can kill you in one bite,” he says, “it can also spit in your eyes and cause permanent blindness.” In Florida, all non-native venomous snakes require a licence to keep or possess.
Authorities say Boyles kept the animals in plastic containers that were unsecured, UPI reports, meaning some of the most venomous animals on the planet could have escaped. The containers also lacked fresh water and two dead cobras were found in the house, according to police.
In total, Boyles is facing 13 counts of illegal possession of venomous snakes, nine counts of animal cruelty, and one count of reckless endangerment. He’s due in court on May 8.