Dead snakes used to lure king cobra that escaped Orlando home

Florida wildlife officials search for 8-foot king cobra


ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials will use dead snakes in an attempt to lure a king cobra that escaped days ago from an Orlando home.

The venomous snake escaped Wednesday from a home in the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road in Orlando, according to officials.

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"We have acquired some frozen snakes -- red-tailed green rat snakes, which are supposed to be a favorite of king cobras -- that other cobra owners use to feed their animals," the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in an email.  "This frozen bait will be thawed, which will give off a strong scent.  We will then create several scent trails in a spoke-type pattern, with the box trap being the center, and then place some of the bait within the trap."

The FWC said it hopes the king cobra will enter one of the traps.

The cobra belongs to Mike Kennedy, a personality on the Discovery Channel's "Airplane Repo" show.  He's licensed to have the snake, according to FWC.

News 6 has learned that Kennedy houses and rescues exotic animals at his home. A website shows photos of Kennedy with several different animals.

Neighbors tell News 6 they don't want Kennedy getting the cobra back when it's found.

"A fine is not good enough," said neighbor Judi Brown. "They need to take the stuff away from him. He's not responsible."

The green-and-yellow male snake looks identical to an image provided by FWC of a longer female at the same location.  All the rest of Kennedy's venomous snakes are in their locked cages and are accounted for.

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Brown said she doesn't think Florida's exotic pets laws protect people who live near them.

News 6 brought her concerns to Gov. Rick Scott on Friday.

"If there's ever anything we need to do with regard to looking at the laws, I have a great partnership with the House and Senate, and we'll always do that," he said.

Because Clarcona Elementary School is less than a mile from the home, school officials asked parents to walk their children to school.  Outdoor recess was also canceled, and classes in portables were moved to the main building, school officials said.

Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson, who represents the area where the cobra went missing, told Local 6 he believes any laws that would prevent dangerous animals from being housed near schools is a state issue, but he is open to discussing it.

"We're going to look at it. We're going to make sure protocols are being followed, and if we missed one, we need to hold somebody responsible," he said.  "If it's us, we'll deal with it, but if it's the state, we'll deal with it at that level. "

The search for the cobra has captured national attention, including that of the Humane Society of the United States.

The organization sent News 6 a statement that reads: "Florida has the worst record of dangerous incidents in the country for many dangerous exotic pets and demonstrates the inadequacies of a costly and labor-intensive permitting and inspection system for allowing individuals to possess inherently dangerous species. The only effective way of addressing this problem is by limiting possession to accredited zoos and sanctuaries."?

Officials said anyone who comes across the snake is asked to report the sighting to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

Boxes are built in an effort to catch a king cobra that escaped from an Orlando home.
Boxes are built in an effort to catch a king cobra that escaped from an Orlando home.

Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.??

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