Deadly Venom-Spitting Cobra on the Loose in North Carolina, Officials Warn

by Jon D. B.
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The deadly zebra cobra, which was being kept as a pet by a Raleigh resident, remains at large as officials block off local foot traffic.

Raleigh, North Carolina residents awoke to an “urgent alert” from the Raleigh Police Department Tuesday morning. The cause? A zebra cobra was spotted on the front porch of a densely-populated neighborhood.

The first sighting of the snake came mid-day Monday in northwest Raleigh. Animal control was called and arrived to the scene on Sandringham Drive near Lynn and Leesville roads, local ABC 11 reports. But no dice: the venomous serpent slithered off before officers could apprehend it.

The incident sparked after a resident called 911 to report the beyond-unusual sighting. Emergency dispatchers then connected the man with animal control.

As of late Tuesday, the deadly zebra cobra remains at large.

“That’s so scary and dangerous; it makes me feel like we need to take care of this situation and not let it happen again,” neighbor Vince Toscano tells ABC 11.

North Carolina police are asking anyone who spots an unusual snake to call 911 immediately, even if they’re unsure of its species.

This precaution is highly warranted. Greg Lewbart, an NC State Professor of Aquatic, Wildlife, and Zoological Medicine, details that a zebra cobra’s venom can cause “blindness, tissue damage and even death.”

The cobra species is prone to both biting and spitting their venom when they feel threatened. The snake poses the biggest threat to small children and pets, with Lewbart specifically naming cats and dogs.

“You’re dealing with something that’s pretty unusual and actually scary,” the professor adds for ABC 11.

WATCH: North Carolina Residents Facing Loose, Deadly Zebra Cobra

As for how this could possibly happen, the news outlet states that “owning a venomous snake is legal in North Carolina.” They also note, however, that owners must follow ” several guidelines–such as having an escape-proof cage and alerting law enforcement immediately if an escape does occur.”

It is currently unknown if the zebra cobra’s owner broke any laws before or after his pet’s escape. Watch ABC 11‘s coverage below. Then, we’ll get into the specifics of this incredible – and deadly – species.

Scientific name Naja nigricincta, the zebra cobra belongs to the genus Naja and family Elapidae. All species within this family are native to the dry regions and deserts of southern Africa. A nocturnal species, zebra cobras – also known as zebra spitting cobras – are often seen at night.

The zebra cobra earns its common name from the dark banding of black and white. These markings run the length of its body, which averages about 4 to 5-feet in length.

Like other cobras, this species can and will flatten its head and neck into a “hood.” Both the head and hood will appear uniform in color, being either brown or black.

All of this culminates into a snake that packs one of the worst venoms in the animal kingdom. According to The Harvard University Herpetology Course, Zebra cobra venom can cause massive hemorrhaging and necrosis, which is the premature death of cells in living tissue. Their venom, which they can spit several feet, also causes paralysis in bite victims. If hit in the eyes or face, the venom can cause permanent blindness.

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