Officials in North Carolina are cautioning people to be on the lookout for a poisonous snake on the loose.

The Raleigh Police Department sent out notifications early Tuesday urging anyone who sees the missing zebra cobra, to stay clear and call 911 immediately. They say the cobra could spit and bite if cornered or threatened.

An animal control officer was called to a residence in northwest Raleigh on Monday evening for a report of a live snake spotted on the homeowner’s porch, police said.

But when the police officer arrived, the snake had already slithered away. Then they learned that a zebra cobra was missing from a nearby home.

It is legal to own Venomous snakes in North Carolina, but they must be kept in escape-proof, bite-proof enclosures and owners must call law enforcement right away if one escapes.

The African Snake Bite Institute classifies zebra cobras as “very dangerous,” but surprisingly, human fatalities are not common. The timid and nocturnal snakes are usually found in Namibia and Angola and are black to brown with light crossbars, and average 4 feet in length.

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