ORLANDO, Fla. – A search continued Thursday for a dangerous, 8-foot-long king cobra snake that escaped from its cage at an Orlando home.
The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission said that the snake was reported missing on Wednesday by its owner, who is licensed and bonded to care for exotic animals. The snake actually went missing on Tuesday.
The privately owned, non-native, venomous snake was reported to have escaped from its cage at a home in the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road in Orlando. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the home is less than a mile away from an elementary school. Children were being kept inside Clarcona Elementary as a precaution on Thursday.
“It wasn’t deliberately let out from what we can see. Looks like it escaped its cage it was in,” said Capt. Chris Roszkowiak of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in a WESH TV report.
The snake is green and yellow. A permit is required to possess a king cobra and owners are required to report escaped animals immediately.
The owner, Mike Kennedy, is an exotic animal dealer and star of the Discovery Channel reality show “Airplane Repo.” Officials said he could face criminal penalties for not telling authorities about the escape immediately.
Officials believe the snake is likely to stay close to home in a densely wooded area. Neighbors are especially wary.
“I’m going to go load my guns. Well, they’re already loaded, but I’m going to have them ready for sure. I mean, that thing’s big enough to take you down for sure,” said James McLeod, who lives nearby.
Officials said Kennedy is a licensed and professional snake hunter.
FWC officers and staff are searching the area for the snake. The FWC said that if members of the public come across this snake, it is advised that they do not handle it and instead report the sighting to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922).
According to National Geographic, king cobras are shy when it comes to humans, but if cornered, that’s when they get riled up. Authorities say the snake is probably hunting for other snakes, lizards or small mammals. A king cobra snake’s hiss almost sounds like a growling dog, according to National Geographic. The amount of neurotoxin in a single bite can kill 20 people and is also enough to kill an elephant. More information about king cobra snakes from National Geographic.
Information from WESH TV, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Geographic and the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.