The search continued Wednesday for a suphan cobra that escaped its enclosure in an Ocala, Florida, home on Monday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Brian Purdy reported at about 11:15 p.m. Monday that the 2-foot venomous snake slithered out of its enclosure at about 9 p.m. at his home on Northeast Ninth Street, FWC spokesman Rob Klepper said.
Purdy told investigators that his apprentice, who was learning how to handle venomous snakes, was watching the reptile when it escaped.
Purdy, a licensed owner of multiple venomous reptiles, told WFTV on Tuesday that he believes a large lizard in the home might have eaten the cobra, because its stomach appears enlarged.
The lizard's stomach will be X-rayed and scoped, but wildlife officials aren't taking any chances. They urged residents to use caution until the snake is captured.
Despite their reclusive nature, FWC said cobras will strike if they feel threatened.
"The snake is not going to like the cold weather," said Greg Workman, an FWC spokesman. "Chances are it's going to stay in a warm climate where the temperatures are going to be conducive to what he or she likes."
Officers have searched around the home from which the snake escaped as well as several nearby homes, using snake hooks to make sure the cobra isn't hiding in any bushes.
Roderick Gillock, who lives in the neighborhood, said he's watching his every step.
"I'm concerned about this, because this is scary," he said. "You don't know if there's a snake around here. This is dangerous."
Neighbor Brandon Lacey said only the snake's capture will ease his nerves.
"(I've) been up since 3-something this morning. (I'm) scared and don't know what to do," he said. "If I get bit, that's it. I'm 35 years old. I want to see many more years to come."
A king cobra escaped from Mike Kennedy's home near Ocoee in September 2015. It was captured about a month later when a woman found the snake behind a dryer in her garage.
Kennedy was previously accused of improperly housing the snake and waiting 24 hours to report the escape. He appeared in court Wednesday morning.