A MAN who kept exotic snakes as pets was killed by one of his most treasured possessions - a King Cobra.
The victim, identified only as a 21-year-old man called Vladimir, died within minutes of the bite at his apartment in the city of Tolyatti, in south-central Russia's Samara Oblast region.
His girlfriend, called Anna, was with him in the flat at the time.
Anna told police he was feeding the King Cobra when it suddenly struck him.
Its venom is considered to be among the most powerful of all poisonous snakes.
Vladimir collapsed and died in Anna's arms in a matter of minutes.
His terrified girlfriend immediately called an ambulance but there was nothing medics could do for him when they arrived.
Anna said: "Vladimir was not afraid of his poisonous serpents and liked playing with them.
"His collection of snakes included a green mamba, a red spitting cobra and the King Cobra, which killed him. He had only had the snake for a short time."
Vladimir began collecting snakes only two years ago and his social media profile was filled with pictures of them.
It is unclear what will happen to the snakes, although Anna has said she does not want to take care of them.
But it is likely she will have no trouble selling off the King Cobra which is highly prized among collectors around the world.
The snake - Ophiophagus hannah - is predominantly found in forests from India through to Southeast Asia.
This species is the world's longest venomous snake, with a length up to 18.5 to 18.8 feet.
Despite the word "cobra" in its common name, the snake is not a member of the Naja genus - or "true cobras" - which contains most cobra species, but it is in fact the sole member of its own genus.
It preys chiefly on other snakes and occasionally on some other vertebrates, such as lizards and rodents.
It is considered to be a highly dangerous snake and has a fearsome reputation although it typically avoids confrontation with humans if possible.