Deadly Cobra on the Loose in Central Florida

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The search continues for a deadly cobra that escaped from an enclosure at the home of its owner in Ocala, said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The owner called the commission late Monday to let officials know that his 2-foot-long suphan cobra had escaped.

An FWC investigator, Ocala police and Marion County Fire Rescue couldn’t find the reptile, the commission said Tuesday. Authorities then alerted nearby residents.

The snake’s owner has been licensed to have the cobra since May 2016, said Robert Klepper, spokesman for the law enforcement division of the FWC. He also owns a Gaboon viper and an African bush viper, Klepper said.

The FWC requires the rooms where venomous reptiles are kept to be escape-proof. Investigators will be looking into whether the owner violated any regulations.

“Public safety is the number one concern,” Klepper said. “We wanted to emphasize that this is a venomous snake and a dangerous animal and should not be approached.”

Corwin: Venom is highly toxic

Jeff Corwin, a celebrity wildlife expert and conservationist, said a cobra’s venom is in the top tier of all animal venoms.

If someone were to be bitten by the escaped cobra, they would need to get to the hospital as fast as they could, he said.

The only treatment is the correct anti-venom, “made from the correlating venom of the species or another within the family,” Corwin said.

Thankfully, Corwin said, the cobra is probably going to find a spot far away from people and stay there. “The likelihood that anyone is going to be bitten by this snake is very, very low.”

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about five people a year die from snake bites in the United States.

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