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WTVD reports residents of northwest Raleigh, North Carolina were alerted early Tuesday morning that a venomous zebra cobra had gone missing after escaping its owner’s home.  

The snake was last seen on the porch of a nearby residence at around 5 p.m. Monday, but was nowhere to be found when an animal control officer arrived. One person dialed 911 to report the snake’s whereabouts because they didn’t know who to contact. The call was redirected to the appropriate agency. 

According to The News & Observer, Raleigh police barricaded a street as neighbors helped with the search as their dogs remained indoors. Authorities have warned that a zebra cobra will bite or spit venom if it feels threatened.

Greg Lewbart, professor of Aquatic Animal Medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said small children, cats and dogs are most at-risk of serious harm, as the venom can cause blindness, tissue damage, and on occasion, death. Anyone who spots the snake is being advised to stay away, but call 911 immediately.  

“That’s so scary and dangerous; it makes me feel like we need to take care of this situation and not let it happen again,” neighbor Vince Toscano said. 

Authorities have not indicated if the owner will be charged for the snake’s escape. It’s also unclear if owning such a snake is illegal, even though North Carolina state law says it is “unlawful for any person to own, possess, use, transport, or traffic in any venomous reptile that is not housed in a sturdy and secure enclosure.”