Nice catch-and don't worry about being "too close". They can't jump. They can only bite from half to 2/3 their body length away, so you're safe as close as 6 feet.
I had always heard 1/2 length...and figured he was about 5 feet long......so even at 8 feet it was a bit nervewracking - especially since thats the first one I ever saw. Cool experience tho.