Is the monocled cobra that escaped from its enclosure a week ago in Ocala still alive, hiding somewhere inside the home?
Did it meet its match and end up in the belly of a giant lizard?
Or could it possibly still be slithering somewhere, waiting to strike?
No matter the situation Miami-Dade Fire Department's Venom One team is ready, just in case. That’s because in the event the cobra bites, they will likely be the ones called to provide antivenin.
“Most likely we will be involved,” Lt. Lisa Wood said. “We are not aware of anyone else in the state who has it.”
The rogue two-foot long snake has been missing since last Monday when a man training to handle venomous reptiles with the snake’s owner lifted the top of the cage to get a better look.
The cobra, the Ocala Star-Banner reported, belongs to Brian Purdy, who has a permit to handle venomous reptiles. In addition to the cobra, he also had three exotic vipers and two venomous lizard, according to the report.
After searching the room that the snake was in for hours, Purdy called police.
The story of a venomous snake on the loose made for a perfect wacky Florida story and quickly went viral. The cobra even inspired its own parody Twitter account, with more than 3,000 followers.
Over the weekend, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was still searching for the snake, but by Monday the agency had scaled back its efforts. The agency is looking into how the snake got free.
Investigators believe the snake is likely still somewhere in the home.
Wood said that if there is a bite they would ship anywhere from 5 to 20 vials — depending on the severity of the bite — of the antivenin to the hospital. She said a cobra bite could cause pain, swelling and could cause a person to stop breathing.
“The sooner a person gets the antivenin the better,” she said. She said they haven’t dealt with a monocled cobra bite since 2013, when they had six. She said tougher regulations for permits have helped.
Wood said “it’s not likely” that the cobra got very far and South Floridians shouldn’t worry. Cobras wouldn’t be able to survive near-freezing temperatures in Ocala, “unless it found a really warm hiding spot like under a water heater.”
“The only way it could get here is if someone took it,” she said.
Anyone who thinks they may have seen the cobra is urged to call FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-3922 (FWCC) or *FWC or #FWC on cellphones.