Escaped venomous pet zebra cobra ‘located and safely removed’ from NC neighborhood

RALEIGH, N.C. — Animal Control officers in Raleigh caught a venomous zebra cobra on Wednesday night, days after the serpent escaped from its home, WTVD reported.

The snake was “located and safely removed,” officials said.

Authorities had been warning neighbors in the state’s capital this week to be on the lookout for the dangerous pet snake after it escaped on Monday. The man who owns the zebra cobra was hospitalized by a snake bite in April, WTVD reported.

The Raleigh Police Department sent out an urgent alert Tuesday morning, hours after the spitting zebra cobra was spotted on someone’s front porch, according to WTVD.

The cobra was seen around 5 p.m. Monday at a home in northwest Raleigh, but when Animal Control arrived, the snake had slithered off.

“That’s so scary and dangerous; it makes me feel like we need to take care of this situation and not let it happen again,” neighbor Vince Toscano told WTVD.

While the snake was free to room the Raleigh neighborhood, authorities pondered the best way to secure the reptile.

Neighbors confirmed to WTVD on Wednesday that a home on Chamonix Place was the subject of a Raleigh police investigation on Tuesday.

Raleigh Police Department said it first learned of the escaped snake Monday evening from a 911 call in the Brittany Woods neighborhood near Lynn and Leesville roads. The call was not from the owner of the snake, but rather someone who spotted it near his home.

Zebra cobras are native to deserts and drier areas in southern Africa. The snake is highly venomous and will bite or spit if cornered.

NC State Professor of Aquatic, Wildlife, and Zoological Medicine Greg Lewbart said the snake’s venom can cause blindness, tissue damage and even death. He said it’s most dangerous to small children, cats and dogs.

“You’re dealing with something that’s pretty unusual and actually scary,” Lewbart said.

The snake can spit venom from as far away as 9 feet and experts say spitting is the snake’s primary form of defense. The animal is shy and will only defend itself if it’s stressed.

If hit by the cobra’s venom, someone would feel immediate pain, swelling, irritation, vomiting and diarrhea, officials said. A heavy fever and breathing problems would follow, which could lead to respiratory failure.

Salina Locke, a veterinarian, treats all kinds of pets at the Avian and Exotic Animal Care.

”This species of cobra doesn’t typically bite. They’re more likely to spray their venom,” she told WRAL. “They are very accurate and go straight for the eyes.”

Locke said she does not recommend zebra cobras as a pet, due to the risks.

The snake has a black throat and hood. Its body has black, brown and white stripes.

Residents of the community told WRAL they had no idea a venomous snake had been living in their neighborhood, and they’re concerned -- especially for their pets and children.

”It is pretty alarming. It seems like a pretty dangerous snake, and dogs like to sniff in the grass and check things out,” said Mark Pavlic, who lives in the Brittany Woods neighborhood. “It’s an extreme worry.”

Snake bites kill more than 81,000 people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Most of those deaths occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Owning a venomous snake is legal in North Carolina, however, the owner must follow several guidelines, such as having an escape-proof cage and alerting law enforcement immediately if an escape does occur.

Police have not said if the snake’s owner broke any laws.

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