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If You See This Snake in NC, Don't Go Near It—Call 911

Police are on the lookout in Raleigh for an escaped zebra cobra
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2021 9:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you're out for a jog or walking your dog in Raleigh today, you might want to steer clear of the Brittany Woods neighborhood. WRAL reports that residents there "are waking up to another day of anxiety" after police reported that a highly toxic zebra cobra is on the loose, posing a special danger to kids and outdoor pets. CBS 17 notes the snake was first spotted Monday afternoon on a local's porch, but by the time cops and animal control workers showed up to capture the cobra, it had vanished. A second sighting was reported on Tuesday night, but the snake once again eluded the authorities. WTVD reports the zebra cobra, native to the arid deserts of southern Africa, is extremely venomous and will bite or spit if it feels threatened. The venom, which the cobra can spit as far as 9 feet, can cause blindness and tissue damage and even prove fatal.

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WRAL notes that Christopher Gifford—the son of a couple who live in a house in the area, per county records—apparently keeps exotic snakes, with social media accounts showing him interacting with them. One post shows Gifford with a zebra cobra. In April, Gifford posted on Facebook he'd been bitten by a West African green mamba, also a highly venomous snake. Police were seen searching his parents' home on Tuesday. It's legal to keep poisonous snakes in North Carolina as long as they're kept in a biteproof enclosure the snake can't escape from, and as long as the owner contacts the police ASAP if the snake does somehow manage to get loose. It's not clear in this case if the owner did so, or if any other laws were broken. Police say if anyone spots the cobra to call 911 immediately and not approach it. (Read more cobra stories.)

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