A missing monocled cobra in Ocala is creating what else? A spectacle.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the search for the missing cobra is going on in the 900 block of NE Ninth Street. People in the area are urged to use caution until it’s been captured.
The snake was reported missing at around 11:15 pm Monday. Its owner, Brian Purdy, says the 24-inch-long cobra had gotten out of its enclosure at around 9 p.m.
Investigators say Purdy was being shadowed by another man so he could get a permit to handle and own venomous reptiles. The trainee was in the home while Purdy was at work. The man apparently didn't see the snake so he opened the cage to get it to move, the snake struck at him, then slithered away. It hasn't been seen since and officials say they aren't sure if it's actually escaped the home.
"Well, we don't know that's why we're continuing to search," said FWC officer Chad Weber. "We've heard that another reptile may have eaten the snake. That's something we're going to check into as well."
Purdy has taken the reptile to get x-rayed according to officials.
Neighbors expressed shock that a venomous snake like that lived in the neighborhood. Florida is actually one of the strictest states when it comes to permitting.
"You have to get a thousand hours of training under a licensed facility over a years period of time to get those licenses in the first place," said Damen Hurd, a licensee, and operator of Wildlife Inc., a rehabilitation and education organization in Manatee County.
Hurd owns several highly venomous snakes including cobras. He says outright banning their ownership would be dangerous.
"Even if you didn't legally allow snakes into the state, people are going to be bringing the snakes in here illegally. You need somebody who is trained and capable of handling these types of animals and if you take those permits away you're going to lose them," Hurd said.
The state has a map showing all captive wildlife permits including "reptiles of concern/venomous."
Hurd believes even if the monocled cobra did escape the home since it is from tropical southeast Asia, it likely won't survive the cold snap this week where temperatures could dip into the 20's.