Cobra from Thousand Oaks to join Reptile House at San Diego Zoo

Once loose in Thousand Oaks, a white cobra has a new home at San Diego Zoo

The venomous white cobra captured in Thousand Oaks in September is soon to emerge from quarantine at the San Diego Zoo and go on exhibit.

The 4-foot-long snake, determined to be a female about 2 years old, underwent a thorough exam this week including X-rays to check for parasites, mites and viruses. None were found.

Once the results of a blood test are available, the snake will join Reptile House, probably within 10 days. It will live in its own cage. To make room, a python is being relocated.

The snake is a monocled cobra, not an albino. The former has reduced pigmentation, the latter has none. A monocled cobra has blue eyes, an albino has red eyes.

The  cobra was found hiding beneath a stack of wood in the semi-rural Thousand Oaks yard where it was first spotted. Word had spread that it had attacked a dog.

Once captured, it was taken to the Los Angeles Zoo and then to the San Diego Zoo. How a snake from a species common to Southeast Asia  became loose in Thousand Oaks is unclear.

In San Diego, zookeepers looked to see if the cobra had suffered injuries during its foray in Southern California. None were found, its fangs are intact; ditto for its venom gland.

For its physical exam, the cobra was immobilized inside a plastic tube and then anesthetized with an inhalant.

In quarantine, the unnamed cobra - a naming contest is being planned - showed no abnormal behavior. When startled, it hisses and raises up, fanning out its hood.

"She eats well," mostly mice, said Brett Baldwin, animal care manager for reptiles. "She has shed her skin nicely."

Like other snakes at Reptile House, the cobra will a need a period of adjustment. "It will probably take a while before she becomes relaxed to having people pass by on the other side of the glass," Baldwin said.

The enclosure is being repainted and some structures are being built so the snake can hide if it wants. "We want to make sure she's comfortable," said Baldwin.

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