Venomous West African cobra missing in Grand Prairie, Texas

Residents of a Texas neighborhood are hissed off with a snake owner after the poisonous reptile escaped.

A West African banded cobra has been missing since Tuesday evening, and wildlife experts are on the lookout for the venomous creature in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The cobra escaped from Tre Mat’s home on Tuesday, according to Grand Prairie officials. Throughout the week, city animal services, Mat and a private reptile removal expert searched for the snake near the 1800 block of Cherry Street.

“We don’t know if the snake is long gone, or if the snake is still in the house, but we have not been able to locate it,” Grand Prairie Police Public Information Officer Mark Beseda told CNN. “We haven’t got anything on it. No sightings, or tips or calls on different snakes.”

Mat noticed his pet was missing around 5:00 p.m. and reported the cobra’s disappearance, although he now believes the snake is dead. “I wanted my community to feel safe,” he told KTVT. “It’s required. I’m required as a permitted citizen to call my community if something [happens], a mishap.”

Grand Prairie police had initially thought Mat had a permit for the snake, but the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Wednesday that the municipality actually prohibits people

from owning this type of snake — according to Dallas County rules, venomous snakes are prohibited animals.

“As a reminder wild animals are not allowed to be kept within Grand Prairie city limits as per the ordinance set in section 5-31,” Grand Prairie Animal Services and Adoption Center wrote in a Facebook post. “A wild animal is defined as any animal that is not of a common domestic species and constitutes a danger to human life.”

The West African banded cobra is a subspecies of the forest cobra, considered one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Venom from this snake causes progressive descending paralysis which may lead to respiratory arrest and death, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. However, bites from the cobra are rare since they are shy.

Snake sightings are quite rare in the neighborhood, which has lots of cars and foot traffic. Authorities warned people not to approach or try to catch the snake, which is considered dangerous.

The Grand Prairie police and fire departments have alerted nearby hospitals about the cobra and initiated a protocol with Parkland Hospital to treat those who might have been bitten by the snake.

This isn’t the first time a snake has wreaked havoc on a community. A deadly cobra was on the loose in North Carolina last June that could spew poisonous venom from nine feet away, authorities said. The zebra cobra was captured a few days later.