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Snakes alive! King cobra reported in Cumberland woods

Posted May 19, 2008

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— Wildlife agents are scouring the woods near Cedar Creek after a man says he spotted what looks like a king cobra there last week.

Vernon Byrd was on an all-terrain vehicle in a field off Johnson Road last Tuesday when he said an 8-foot-long snake reared up beside him – and the serpent's head was about shoulder high to him.

"I caught something out of my eye, and this snake comes up beside me and looked at me," Byrd said. "I've seen every kind of snake in this part of the country, but I've never seen a snake like this."

He called Freddie Mims, a licensed wildlife rescue agent, who said the description of the snake sounded like a king cobra, the world's largest poisonous snake.

"Somebody (probably) had one illegally and sold it illegally. The person that bought it (likely) accidentally let it escape," Mims said.

Cumberland County Animal Control officials said they're trying to determine if anyone in the area ever owned a king cobra. Having an exotic pet is illegal in Cumberland County and carries a $1,000 fine.

Nearby residents said they thought the snake escaped from Jambba's Ranch, a local tourist attraction with exotic animals like a 700-pound bear and a camel.

"It's not true. We don't have a king cobra. We never had a king cobra," said James Bass, owner of Jambba's Ranch.

Residents said pit bull puppies and chickens have disappeared in recent days.

"(I'm) staying in the house," said Ida Edge, who has been on edge about the situation.

Byrd said he doesn't walk in the field anymore without a gun, and he won't go into the woods where he last saw the snake.

"(Wildlife agents) tried to get me to go with them, but I wouldn't. I told them they hadn't seen what I'd seen."


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  • gandalf1 May 23, 2008

    "I hit 1" iamanidiot ... just do us a favor and don't go into any horrid details of what you did to the poor thing while it was on the ground so you could bust a nut in it...

  • iamforjustice May 20, 2008

    Snakes don't bother people. I don't mind snakes. I hate deer. Four ran out in front of me recently and I hit 1 and it messed up my bumper.

  • diver May 20, 2008

    maybe he took a wrong turn at Cairo

  • Calamitous May 20, 2008


    Yes, Brush B Gone will kill all plants. Be be smart enough not to drink it, though. You strike me as the type who needs to be reminded of things.

  • Jermaniac May 20, 2008

    What if it fell from Samuel Jacksons plane?

  • reptileeducation May 20, 2008

    As far as I know a call to 911 will definitely get me in Wilmington, and a number of doctors and veterinarians from all over the US have gotten hold of us to consult in snakebite cases. I'm not so sure that a 911 call from Durham would end up in my lap in Wilmington however.

    Snake Getters began as a Florida network and we're still a bit short on coverage in North Carolina. This is being slowly remedied as more people hear about it and sign up. But before we can plug into a local 911 network, we need a local coordinator who can take calls 24 hours a day and dispatch from there. In Wilmington that would be me. In Raleigh/Durham we are still waiting for a volunteer.

  • reptileeducation May 20, 2008

    911 prefers to dispatch calls to a no cost volunteer remover. There are times they are not able to reach us instantly - we do have lives and families - and they need to go further down their list to find a commercial wildlife nuisance trapper.

    Every time I drop what I am doing and rush to rescue a snake, it costs me time and gas money. I don't mind doing that, and I willingly leave meals uneaten and tasks unfinished to help out that way. But I do have a life and I don't spend 100% of it in Wilmington, as my family lives in another state.

    I do encourage other volunteer snake rescuers in the area to email snakegetters at usa dot net so that I can dispatch directly to you should I be out of town when the need arises.

  • Iamcornholio May 20, 2008

    Does anyone know where to find large rat feeders for under $1.90?

  • oldschooltarheel May 20, 2008

    Thank you SnakeLady & Reptileeducation - that is very helpful information. It is a good thing to know the creatures can be removed & put to good use rather than just killed. Question - will a call to 911 work to get snakegetters throughout the state? Alas, I do not hold high hopes for Durham's 911 ability to call anyone...

  • Dr. Dataclerk May 20, 2008

    Hey, look behind you there is a snake laying over there in the corner.