(NEXSTAR) – Police in Texas are urging the residents of a Dallas suburb to be wary of a dangerous venomous cobra that may have gotten loose from its owner’s home.
Animal control officers responded to reports of the missing snake at around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at a home in Grand Prairie, according to the Grand Prairie Police Department. The snake’s owner claimed the snake had been gone for over an hour.
“The owner noticed his venomous West African Banded Cobra snake, permitted by the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, missing from its enclosure around 5:00 p.m.,” the Grand Prairie police wrote in a news release shared Wednesday.
A search for the cobra lasted through the night but failed to turn up the missing snake.
Police are now urging local residents to “call 911 immediately” if they believe they’ve spotted the cobra, but make no attempt to approach or capture the snake. Local hospitals have been made aware of the issue, and Parkland Hospital in Dallas has also been trained to treat bites from this type of snake, police said.
As of Thursday morning, a representative for the Grand Prairie Police Department said no sightings have been reported.
The West African banded cobra (N. savannula) belongs to the Naja genus of venomous cobras found in many parts of the world, but this particular species is believed to be native to West Africa, according to National Geographic. Bites from the species belonging to the Naja genus are said to be fatal if not treated immediately.
The State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department later confirmed that “these types of snakes” are illegal in Grand Prairie, despite the owner having a permit to own a non-indigenous snake in Texas.
“The possession of a Controlled Exotic Snake permit from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has no bearing on [the municipality’s laws] whatsoever,” a representative said in an emailed statement.
The snake’s owner may also face misdemeanor charges for “recklessly, intentionally, or negligently” allowing the dangerous snake to escape, Texas Parks and Wildlife says.