I’ll bet “the neighbors are even more worried about what could be slithering into their yards…” as MyNews13 reports. How does an exotic snake like this escape for a so-called “inescapable room.” If I lived down the street I would have a few words for this snake’s owner!
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it won’t stop looking until an 8-foot-long king cobra that escaped from a home in west Orange County is found.
According to wildlife officials, the snake’s owner said it escaped from a 5-acre property called Dragon Ranch, on the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road, east of Ocoee.
The owner is Mike Kennedy, the star of the Discovery Channel TV series “Airplane Repo.”
He is also a self-proclaimed exotic animal dealer.
On his website, he said he rescues animals that people know to be dangerous predators.
The snake is supposed to be kept inside an inescapable room, but it somehow got out on Wednesday and now officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife are canvassing the woods before the king cobra gets too far.
One of Kennedy’s friends is Bob Cross, owner of the Critter Capture Service.
“Turning all the palmettos over,” Bob Cross said. “Any piles of brush we’re kind of kicking them and moving them around with our sticks. See if we can get something to crawl out of it.”
“Mike is very upset,” Cross said. “He’s hurt. He’s upset. He’s concerned. He’s worried.”
But his neighbors are even more worried about what could be slithering into their yards.
“I live behind the guy and so do many other people and there’s a whole subdivision right behind him,” neighbor Judy Brown said. “So yeah I’m worried that it will leave the woods.”
The King Cobra is green and yellow in color and is considered extremely dangerous.
“My husband went out to mow this morning just to make sure the grass is low,” neighbor Diane Brunette said. “You know he’s probably hiding somewhere.”
The search could span some 60 acres, but neighbors worry this search may be like finding a needle in a haystack.
“When are they going to quit looking and will they find it?” Brown asked. “I just don’t have any confidence that they’ll find it in that deep woods. I just don’t.”
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said Kennedy is licensed and bonded and has the proper permits for owning these exotic animals. Photos and videos on Facebook show Kennedy with crocodiles, cheetahs and his king cobra.
However, News 13 has learned that he has a history of violations. In 2001 and 2004 he was cited for failing to provide safe and secure housing for venomous reptiles.
“Most likely nobody is going to see it. We believe it’s going to stay on the property here, which is a heavily wooded area,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Capt. Chris Roszkowiak. “On the remote chance it does leave this area, and if someone does see it, please call our number so we can try to recapture the snake. But please do not approach it; don’t corner it or let any animals at it.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s alert hotline if (888) 404-FWCC (3922).
King cobras are venomous and not native to Florida, but it is legal to own one in the Sunshine State with the proper permit.
Cobra search cancels school activities
Officials at Clarcona Elementary School, which is less than a mile from the ranch where the king cobra escaped, said they were taking no chances Thursday.
Because of the ongoing search, Clarcona Elementary canceled all outdoor activities Thursday, and students in portable classrooms were moved to the school’s main building for the day.
A recorded message sent to students’ parents Thursday asked them to “please accompany any children who walk or ride their bikes to school.”
Recess and physical education classes were also moved indoors Thursday, leaving the playground outside Clarcona Elementary empty.
Extra safety staff was also brought on campus to work with maintenance crews in keeping an eye on the school grounds and help as needed, should someone spot the cobra.
Snake expert’s advice on staying safe
Once it escaped, the snake likely looked for a safe hiding place, according to David Tetzlaff, director of the Central Florida Zoo.
“An animal that is captive and then is not in its usual home, before it thinks of eating or anything, it thinks, ‘How do I keep myself safe?'” Tetzlaff explained.
Because king cobras — and most snakes, for that matter — aren’t comfortable in the heat of the day, they most likely will move at night, when it is cooler. Tetzlaff said a king cobra would try to find the closest, darkest and coolest place to hide, such as under rocks or in sheds and open garages.
Residents near the area should keep their doors closed. If they go out at night, take a flashlight, Tetzlaff warned.
“If you live in the area, don’t walk outside at night unless you have to,” Tetzlaff advised.
Most snake bites occur on the hands and fingers or below the knee, so make sure to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Do not reach under an object outside at night without checking it out first.
Because most king cobras that are house-kept are fed about once a week, Tetzlaff said the possibility of the escaped cobra being hungry should not be much of a concern. The snake will be more concerned about staying safe and hidden, rather than looking for food.
Because king cobras are from the Southeast Asia region, they are familiar and comfortable in the Florida climate. Tetzlaff said if this king cobra isn’t caught soon, it could potentially survive for a while, including through the winter.
“I hope it’s found soon for peace of mind, but even when temperatures get in the 40s, they will find a hole in the ground where they will feel safe and not fully exposed, and they’ll make it through,” Tetzlaff explained.
King cobra facts
From National Geographic
- Native to India, southern China and Southeast Asia
- Comfortable in trees, on land and in water
- Feed mainly on other snakes, lizards, eggs and small mammals
- A single bite has enough neurotoxin to kill 20 people or an elephant.
- Can go up to 18 feet in length
- Can live in the wild up to 20 years
- When confronted, they can raise up to one-third of their bodies off the ground and still move forward to attack
- However, they are shy and avoid humans whenever possible