A US man is facing a fine and possible jail time after he was bitten by a venomous snake.

Eddie Chamberlain, 19, was bitten by a coral snake as he tried to prevent it from attacking a neighbour's cat and her son.

He caught the snake and put it in a fish tank. But while handling the reptile it bit him on the thumb. Within the space of an hour, Chamberlain's arm became numb and he started to struggle to breath.

He was admitted to Lehigh Acres Regional Hospital in Florida, before being transferred to Lee Memorial Hospital, where he was injected with antivenom.

"I've been bitten plenty of times, just not by a poisonous snake," Chamberlain told WTSP. "The nurses said I was the calmest person they had seen who could have died."

His mother Dawn added: "I was freaking out. I told his dad he better get that snake identified."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission may now decide to fine Chamberlain for keeping a venomous snake as a pet, as state wildlife rules stipulate that licences and training are required in order to legally keep snakes.

As Chamberlain is currently on probation after being jailed last year for 80 days on a breaking and entering charge, the fine would violate the terms of his parole, which could land him back in jail.

"[The judge] told me I could get 25 years in prison," Chamberlain said. "I saved the cat but almost lost my life. I think I did a good thing. It's stupid that they're trying to [fine] me."

Leandro Isambert, a supervisor at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's south-west regional office said: "This is another example of the importance of these captive wildlife rules. Licensed individuals are trained to keep themselves and the animals safe."