Venomous cobra escaped under wardrobe at March home

A keen snake-keeper from March who was looking after a friend's snake '˜panicked' and called in the RSPCA for help after the venomous false water cobra escaped his vivarium and got trapped under a wardrobe.

Friday, 29th September 2017, 2:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 10:37 am

The woman- who keeps 11 snakes herself, - was looking after a friend’s false water cobra while he was on holiday.

She explained: “I was looking after him for a week and we were filling up his water and he made a dash for it.

“They are very flighty. They move quickly.”

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Cyrus - a 5.5ft-long false water cobra - shot under the wardrobe and she couldn’t get to him with her hook so called in the RSPCA for help.

“He folded like an accordion, he was a lot more flexible than I expected,” she said. “He got trapped under the wardrobe and I panicked a little bit.

“I wouldn’t have worried if it was one of my snakes, which are non-venomous, but I was concerned about him being there with the kids and my other pets in the house.”

RSPCA inspector Richard Lythgoe, who was on-call for out-of-hours emergencies in the area, attended the house in March, on Tuesday night (26 September) to help. He said: “The snake was trapped under a fabric wardrobe in one of the bedrooms. He was stuck underneath the weight of the clothes and she felt she wanted some help in order to catch him safely.

“As we emptied the wardrobe he darted out and we were able to catch him and confine him. I have never seen a snake move so fast!

“It’s always important to be extremely cautious when approaching any situation involving venomous snakes, due to the risks these animals can pose. We wanted to make sure Cyrus wasn’t injured in any way so we carefully emptied the wardrobe and managed to safely catch him using my long hook.

“Thankfully Cyrus wasn’t injured and was quickly returned to his vivarium. I understand he is now back with his owner and is doing well.”

The woman said inspector Lythgoe was “fantastic” and thanked the RSPCA for their help.

False water cobras are rear-fanged venomous snakes which originate from South America. Their name comes from the way they flatten their neck into a ‘hood’, in response to potential threat, similar to the behaviour of a cobra.

RSPCA exotics senior scientific officer Nicola White said: “The RSPCA are opposed to the keeping of potentially dangerous species as pets, such as venomous reptiles. This species is not listed on the Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976 schedule, meaning that there are no restrictions regarding keeping them as pets in the UK.

“Caution must be taken when caring for a false water cobra, as a bite could be painful and produce localised swelling and bruising. It’s important that anyone keeping a false water cobra makes sure that the enclosure is secure and locked, to prevent escape.

“If a venomous snake does accidentally escape and you do not have the necessary experience to confine the snake yourself then please do call for help immediately from the local police. Keep people and pets away from the area and don’t take any risks.”