Venomous snake captured in Raleigh; It is legal to own exotic snakes in NC, a rarity among the states

North Carolina News

(WGHP) — The search is over for a highly venomous snake in Raleigh.

Animal control caught the zebra cobra Wednesday night, more than two days after it got loose in a neighborhood in the northwest part of the city.

Authorities say the snake belongs to a homeowner in the area, which is legal in North Carolina. The state is one of only a few in the country that has no statewide laws on private ownership of exotic animals.

Parker Whitt is an environmental specialist for the Department of Agriculture. He says the snake is native to southern Africa. He thinks it’s highly unlikely the striped snake would be for sale anywhere in the state.

“He probably bought it somewhere out of state and either drove and found it or went to a hot show and found it or had it shipped,” said Whitt.

He says while it’s legal, there are exceptions and strict rules. North Carolina law requires owners to provide an escape-proof container and an escape recovery plan. Each county can also set its own ordinances dealing with exotic animals.

“When you have any kind of exotic snake, you’re supposed to take pictures of the habitat, take pictures of the enclosures, let animal control in your county know you’ve got them. Have poison control cards where antivenom is accessible,” Whitt said.

Whitt says the zebra cobra can spit venom from up to 12 feet away, making its capture and containment critical.

“Very, very toxic venom. Neurotoxic, hemotoxic, destroys tissues. He is not going to go out seeking to bite but you could accidentally step on him, and his reaction is to bite you,” Whitt said.

Authorities in Raleigh says the snake is being held in a secure facility but declined to give specifics.

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