On the Hunt: Texas Officials Launch Search for Missing Six-Foot Cobra Snake
A nationwide estimate provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that between 7,000 and 8,000 people are bitten by a venomous snake on a yearly basis, with about five individuals succumbing to a lethal bite. Now, American officials are on the hunt for a deadly pet snake.
Officials in Texas recently issued a citywide alert to the residents of Grand Prairie after first responders were informed by a local pet owner that their six-foot, venomous West African banded cobra was out on the loose.
A release issued by the Grand Prairie Police Department on Wednesday revealed that the snake initially went missing on Tuesday at about 5 p.m. local time, and that law enforcement officials were not made aware of the development until about an hour and a half later.
It further detailed that the owner, as well as staff from the regional animal services agency and a “venomous snake apprehension professional” all participated in a localized search mission to determine whether the cobra was still within the proximity of the home. However, their initial attempt was not successful.
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“Residents who live in the area and see any type of snake believed to be the missing cobra, are asked to call 911 immediately,” reads the department’s statement. “Do not approach or attempt to capture the venomous snake.”
The owner, identified by local station WFAA as Tre Mat, revealed that the lethal snake managed to get loose after finding its way out of an in-house aquarium container when it was not properly shut.
"It only took a couple minutes [for the snake to escape]," Mat told the station, before adding that he’s “doing everything I can to help retrieve the snake."
The apologetic owner later explained to the local NBC Dallas-Fort Worth station that the snake somehow managed to get out of its enclosure when he temporarily left the home to retrieve more food for his other pets. However, he believes that the reptile may have slithered into his walls and could have either died inside or outside of the home due to the heat.
Photo provided by Texas' Grand Prairie Police Department is of a similar West African Branded Cobra snake as part of a reference image for the public.
“There were simple protocols that could have, five screws could’ve stopped this,” he told the station. “It just gives a bad look for the community, and I’m sorry too to the reptile community and my local community.”
Incidentally, the Lone Star State legally allows individuals to own such venomous snakes; however, they must be in possession of a permit from the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. While the owner is in compliance with the regulation, officials appear to be questioning whether stricter rules need to be implemented for snake enthusiasts.
The owner further relayed to the station that the city ordered the removal of two other snakes that he had in his possession. One of those serpents was identified as a viper.
The local police department has stated that it partnered with the Grand Prairie Fire Department on the investigation, and that area hospitals have been placed on alert for a potential deadly snake bite.