Residents of one Raleigh, North Carolina, neighborhood awoke Tuesday to news that a zebra cobra snake was on the loose.
The zebra cobra is not indigenous to the state; in fact, it’s not even indigenous to the country. Zebra cobras originate from Africa, according to the African Snake Bite Institute. The snake is usually shy and will choose to escape, although if it is cornered, it will quickly bite or spit. Its venom can cause tissue damage or even death, according to the institute.
The zebra cobra is nocturnal and has black vertical stripes. It often has a dark black or brown head.
Residents of the neighborhood told WRAL-TV that they had no clue one of their neighbors was keeping a zebra cobra as a pet. They said they were especially concerned for their children and pets.
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“It is pretty alarming,” Mark Pavlic, who lives there in the neighborhood, told WRAL. “It seems like a pretty dangerous snake, and dogs like to sniff in the grass and check things out. It’s an extreme worry.”
According to North Carolina state law, as long as the owner keeps the reptile in an escape-proof enclosure, it’s not illegal to be in possession of a venomous snake. The law says the owner must have an escape if the animal escapes, including the location of a suitable antivenin.
Police advised residents to call 911 if they see the snake.
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