A Maryland resident with a massive snake collection that included venomous varieties of the reptile was found dead on Wednesday, Jan. 19, with gruesome snake bites across his whole body, though his cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

David Riston, a 49-year-old man with a vast collection of snakes at his home that includes black mambas, cobras, and rattlesnakes, was found dead by a neighbor in the middle of his kitchen on Wednesday, sparking questions and speculation about how he may have died, according to the New York Daily News.

Riston, who was declared dead on the scene by the emergency team called upon the residence, had permits to have snakes in his home, though not the venomous types that were found with his body. Now, the local government said that they were struggling to dispose of the snakes, ABC affiliate WJLA reported.

“We don’t have that type of expertise at our own animal shelter so that’s why we contacted people who would know how to help us remove the animals,” Jennifer Harris, a spokesperson from Charles County, Maryland said.

The local government reportedly hired an outside snake expert from South Carolina in order to dispose of the snakes, which totaled 124 snakes that included many deadly varieties. Possessing the kind of venomous and poisonous snakes found in Riston’s house is illegal in Maryland.

“It’s illegal because they can kill you. So those laws are in place to keep people safe,” Matt Evans, reptile curator at the National Zoo, said.

“We don’t work the venomous snakes just with our hands. we use tools. Things like tongs and hooks,” Evans continued. “A snake bite, a venomous snake bite, is incredibly painful and incredibly dangerous.”

Riston’s family has continued to mourn the death of the man, with his daughter Emily posting on Facebook: “Still in shock. He is genuinely our best friends [sic] always making us laugh and keeping the peace. My family deeply mourns a loss today.”

His autopsy has yet to reveal a cause of death.

Maryland man David Riston, who reportedly had a live snake collection that included some venomous reptiles, was found dead on Wednesday with snake bites on his body. This is a representational image. Meg Jerrard/Unsplash.

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