After days of searching, Raleigh police said Wednesday night that a missing venomous spitting zebra cobra has been “located and safely removed” from a northwest Raleigh neighborhood, according to a news release.
Raleigh police did not provide other details about how or where it was caught.
“Relief,” said Deirdre O’Malley, a neighbor, upon hearing of the snake’s capture. “It just seems like an awful lot for people to have to do for someone else’s negligence, doesn’t it?”
Earlier Wednesday, Judith Retana, a reporter for CBS 17, saw the snake when she approached the same home on Sandringham Drive where the snake was last seen on Monday. Retana said in an on-air report that she saw the snake on the porch by the front door.
She backed away and alerted authorities nearby, Retana said.
Authorities had been searching for the snake, belonging to Christopher Gifford of nearby Chaminox Place, since a 911 caller reported seeing it on Sandringham Drive on Monday.
On Tuesday, Raleigh police and animal control officers went to Gifford’s home, and animal control officers left with a large bucket.
‘Pretty sure we made eye contact’
During her news report Wednesday, Retana said she approached the home to ask homeowners what they thought about the snake sighting there, and that’s when she noticed the snake, in the same place it had originally been spotted on Monday.
“I was watching my feet, looking around, I looked down in the corner and all of a sudden I see this snake, his head was perched up,” Retana said on air.
“It was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be,” Retana said. “But this is a venomous spitting snake so it doesn’t even have to bite you to be venomous, so I feel very lucky that I was able to back away from that safely and call the police over and back off without any venom being spewed in my face.”
Retana said when she started backing up, the snake, which she said was black-and-white striped, also began backing up.
“I’m pretty sure we made eye contact,” she said.
Animal control officers on the scene Wednesday reviewed CBS 17 footage, which showed the snake lifting its head up off the porch.
Raleigh police kept reporters and onlookers far from the action after the snake was spotted, but during the day, animal control officers approached the home several times wearing face shields, but each time came out empty.
On Tuesday, Christopher Gifford’s Instagram account showed him with a spitting zebra cobra like the one on the loose, but the post has since been taken down.
He also has numerous videos on a TikTok account that show him handling venomous snakes from Africa that appear to be kept in a basement. In one video, since taken down, he showed off a large female zebra cobra.
North Carolina law allows residents to keep exotic, venomous pets, but extensive rules govern their care.
Article 55 says snakes must be kept in a sturdy, secure enclosure designed to be escape-proof, bite-proof, and having an operable lock. Each enclosure must be clearly and visibly labeled “Venomous Reptile Inside,” with the scientific name, common name, appropriate antivenom and owner’s identifying information noted on the container, the law says. A written bite protocol with emergency contact information, local animal control office, the name and location of suitable antivenom, first aid procedures, treatment guidelines and an escape recovery plan must be within sight of permanent housing.