Wildlife experts are setting out traps and searching a Grand Prairie, Texas, neighborhood for a large, venomous West African banded cobra that’s been missing since Tuesday evening.
“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.
Grand Prairie is a city of about 200,000 people between Dallas and Fort Worth.
The owner of the 6-foot-long cobra realized the snake had escaped its enclosure at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday and called 911, police said in a news release on Wednesday.
City animal services, the owner and a private reptile removal expert have been searching for the snake without success.
Police are urging residents to call 911 immediately if they see the snake, and warned that it was dangerous to approach or try to capture the snake.
“We haven’t got anything on it. No sightings, or tips or calls on different snakes,” Beseda said.
He said it’s a pretty populated neighborhood with lots of cars, foot traffic and kids playing, so they rarely hear about snakes in the area.
Police said the owner had a permit to own the snake from the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
CNN was not able to contact the snake’s owner, but he told CNN affiliate KTVT that he believed the snake was dead.
“I wanted my community to feel safe. And yeah, it’s required. I’m required as a permitted citizen to call my community if somethings, a mishap,” owner Tre Mat told KTVT.
Grand Prairie Animals services said that a local ordinance prohibits owning wild animals within the city limits, in a post on its Facebook page.
“We are looking at a city ordinance violation … we’re also exploring, did he violate some type of state law for being negligent on the snake getting out of its cage,” Beseda said. “We have not charged him or arrested him or done anything. We’re simply exploring all of our options.”
The Grand Prairie police and fire departments alerted area hospitals about the cobra and initiated a protocol with Parkland Hospital in Dallas to treat anyone who might be bitten by the snake.