Venomous zebra cobra roaming through North Carolina neighborhood

RALEIGH, N.C. — Authorities in North Carolina’s capital city are warning residents to beware of a venomous pet snake that escaped from its enclosure.

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The Raleigh Police Department sent out an urgent alert Tuesday morning after the zebra cobra was spotted on a resident’s front porch at about 5 p.m. EDT Monday, WRAL reported. When animal control officials arrived at the scene, the snake had slithered away.

The reptile is not native to North Carolina. According to the African Snakebite Institute, the zebra cobra is native to central Namibia and Angola and is classified as “very dangerous.”

The snake is mostly nocturnal and is often found on tarred roads, according to the Institute’s website. The snake is generally shy but will spread a hood and bite if cornered. Like the black spitting cobra, the zebra cobra is quick to spit “and does so effectively.”

The zebra cobra has a black throat and hood. Its body, which is about 4 feet long, has black, brown and white stripes.

According to Greg Lewbart, a professor of aquatic, wildlife and zoological medicine at North Carolina State University, the snake’s venom can cause blindness, tissue damage and even death, WTVD reported. Children, cats and dogs are most vulnerable to the snake, Lewbart told the television station.

According to police, the zebra cobra belongs to a resident of the neighborhood where it was sighted, WNCN reported.

North Carolina is one of the few states that has no ban on exotic pets, WRAL reported. However, according to North Carolina state law G.S. 14-417, “It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, use, transport, or traffic in any venomous reptile that is not housed in a sturdy and secure enclosure. Enclosures shall be designed to be escape-proof, bite-proof, and have an operable lock.”

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