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Escaped cobra in Bronx Zoo raises snake alertness

Kevin McGuire's picture

The search continues for a 20-inch cobra after it escaped form its cage Saturday night in the Bronx Zoo.

The snake escaped form "The World of Reptiles" exhibit Saturday night and until the snake is found and put back in its cage the exhibit will remain closed to the public. Zoo officials believe the cobra is hiding within the exhibit and would avoid open areas.

“Upon leaving its enclosure, the snake would feel vulnerable and seek out a place to hide and feel safe," zoo director Jim Breheny said in a written statement. "When the snake gets hungry or thirsty, it will start to move around the building. Once that happens, it will be our best opportunity to recover it.”

What to do when facing a Cobra

Over 8,000 people are bitten by snakes in the United States each year, and fewer than ten deaths from snake bite are reported. According to TrailBlazer Magazine more people die each year from bee stings than from snake bites, but that doesn't mean snakes shouldn't be treated as a non-threatening creature.

The cobra is a venomous snake so extreme caution should be executed if coming face to face with one. The first thing to do when coming in to contact with one is to remain calm. If possible, contact local animal control and have them come to take care of the snake.

Although snakes may look intimidating it is important to remember that they are merely trying to defend themselves and are most prone to attacking a human being if they feel threatened. Avoid coming within a snake's striking range, which tends to be about half the length of the snake's body length. The escaped cobra measures approximately 20 inches long so its strike range would be limited to about ten inches. Do not attempt to provoke the snake by poking at it or stepping on it as doing so will only endanger a human even more and likely will result in a snake bite.

  • If bitten by a snake the following are some measures to take before receiving direct medical assistance:
  • Stay calm, move safely away form the snake and call 9-1-1. Try not to move as any movement of the bite wound the more likely the venom is to spread.
  • Lie down and raise affected area above the heart.
  • Treat for shock and preserve body heat.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.

Despite being a popular measure in pop culture such as television and movies, sucking the venom out of the wound by the mouth is not advised as it is deemed a useless measure. A suction cup, if available, may provide some relief and is often a part of a snakebite medical kit. Also avoid using a tourniquet as it coudl result in the loss of a limb that can be saved.

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