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Call 911 immediately if you ever spot an exotic venomous snake

Many residents of a north Raleigh neighborhood were shocked to discover they had a venomous zebra cobra as a neighbor. Is it legal to own a venomous, exotic zebra cobra? What safety protocols must be in place?

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Heather Leah
, WRAL multiplatform producer
Many residents of a north Raleigh neighborhood were shocked to discover they had a venomous zebra cobra as a neighbor.

Zebra cobras are not native to North Carolina – this one was owned as a pet by a member of the neighborhood.

Many residents were left asking:

  • Is this safe?
  • Is this legal?
  • What safety protocols are already in place?

It is, in fact, legal to own exotic, venomous reptiles – however, there are many safety guidelines in place.

If you see an exotic snake on the loose, call 911 immediately

First and foremost, if you spy this zebra cobra or any other exotic venomous snake in the future, officials are clear: Call 911 immediately.

Don't call animal control or a wildlife expert. Call 911 right away, so a priority, urgent alert can be pushed out for animal control to be dispatched immediately.

Exotic, venomous snakes must be held in escape-proof enclosures

"The intentional or negligent exposure of other human beings to unsafe contact with venomous reptiles, large constricting snakes, or crocodilians is essentially dangerous and injurious and detrimental to public health ... and is therefore declared to be a public nuisance and a criminal offense," according to legislation.

According to regulation, owners must hold their venomous reptile in a sturdy and secure enclosure, designed to be escape-proof and bite-proof.

The enclosures must be "clearly and visibly labeled" with signage reading "Venomous Reptile Inside."

The label must also include the reptile's scientific name, common name and appropriate anti-venom

There must be an escape plan and anti-venom available

There must also be a written bite protocol that includes location of a suitable antivenin. There must be treatment guidelines, as well as an escape and recovery plan within sight of the reptile's permanent housing.

Police must be called immediately upon escape

"In the event of an escape of a venomous reptile, the owner or possessor of the venomous reptile shall immediately notify local law enforcement," reads the legislation.

North Carolina is one of the few states that allows exotic animals.

Do you think dangerous, exotic animals be kept as pets? Let us know your opinion in Your Voice, and we may use your response in our coverage.


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