Search for missing Ocala cobra scaled back

Florida wildlife officials believe 2-foot snake still in house


OCALA, Fla. – The search for a highly venomous cobra that escaped from an enclosure at the home of its owner in Ocala has been scaled back, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said on Tuesday.

Wildlife officials said officers are no longer at the house, in the 900 block of Northeast Fifth Street, but the search for the 2-foot monocled cobra has not been suspended.

FWC said officers are checking in with the owner of the snake regularly and used K-9s that specialize in detecting reptiles, but the snake is still on the loose.

Remote cameras were used to help in the search, helping officials see into cracks and dark places, and trapping and baiting initiatives have also been used, the FWC said.

Wildlife officials said a monitor lizard that is also kept in the home has been X-rayed twice to see if it ate the snake. 

In all, 20 FWC officers have searched the house 10 times for the snake. Officials told News 6 that they believe the snake is likely still inside the house, possibly in the walls.

The snake is very dangerous.

"It's a cobra. It has highly toxic venom," FWC spokesman Greg Workman told News 6 last week. "It's like any (venomous) snake. It demands respect." 

Workman said an apprentice learning to care for venomous snakes was checking on the cobra and opened the cover of the cage when the snake slithered out.

Wildlife officials said the apprentice should not have been left alone in the sealed room.

The owner of the snake, Brian Purdy, received his permit for the snake in May 2016.

There are more than 280 licensed venomous reptile permit holders in the state. 

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