A pet cobra escaped from its home Monday night and a search has been launched.
The snake escaped about 9 p.m. from a cage in a home on Northeast 9th Street near Ocala Tuscawilla Park, according to a report.
The tan-colored cobra is highly venomous.
Venomous reptile permit holder Brian Purdy called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at about 11:15 p.m. to say that the cobra had escaped its enclosure.
Purdy owns multiple venomous reptiles. His apprentice, who was learning how to handle venomous snakes, was watching the animal when it got loose.
“He didn’t see the snake in the case, and was just concerned about it and wanted to make sure it was OK, so he opened the cage to check on it,” said FWC officer Steve McDaniel.
McDaniel said the snake was still in the cage, but got out when the apprentice opened the top.
“He’s never handled cobras before, according to him,” said McDaniel.
Officials are still considering the possibility that a large lizard in the home ate the snake.
The owner told officers one of the lizards appeared to have an enlarged stomach.
“An x-ray and scope of the stomach, so that will be our next step,” said McDaniel.
If the cobra did make it out of the home, wildlife officers said due to the cold weather, it’s likely to stay close by.
“It’s not going to stay out in the open. It’s going to get somewhere comfy and protected from the elements as it can, if it’s outside,” said McDaniel.
A resident in the Tuscawilla Park area said police made calls to residents overnight about the missing cobra.
The search effort continued into Tuesday afternoon, keeping residents in the neighborhood on edge.
“I literally left work and came here, like I said my dog is here and I have a doggie door, so the ability for a snake to get in the house,” said Tiffany Wheeler.
— Myrt Price (@MPriceWFTV) March 14, 2017