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Cobra is captured after 4 days on the loose in Thousand Oaks

An upscale Thousand Oaks neighborhood slithered back to normal Thursday after a distinctive albino monocled cobra that had eluded animal control officers for days was finally captured in a semi-rural neighborhood, not far from where it was first sighted.

During its four days on the loose, the pale hooded reptile became a social media darling with its own Twitter account and hashtag. But the potentially lethal snake, more commonly seen in Southeast Asia than southeast Ventura County, also left residents unnerved.

The cobra was slinking across Rancho Road when a motorist noticed it and alerted authorities. Los Angeles County animal control officers, who patrol Thousand Oaks, quickly found the snake hiding beneath a stack of wood at the home where it first surfaced.

The Thousand Oaks snake hunt began Monday after the cobra reportedly bit a 7-year-old whippet named Teko. The dog was treated at a local veterinary clinic, released and is expected to make a full recovery.

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Since a cobra bite can kill an adult human in as little as 60 minutes — depending on the victim’s immune system — the fact that the dog was able to survive made some wonder if the snake’s venom glands had been removed.

During the days the cobra was on the loose, residents of the neighborhood north of the Ventura Freeway and west of California 23 kept their eyes open.

“It’s scary, especially since the owner might have other snakes,” said resident Brittney Sparks, who was pushing her 8-month-old son Nixon in a baby stroller shortly before the cobra was captured. “I’m not letting him out of my sight.”

“It’s definitely a scary situation,” said neighborhood resident Sharann Chotenovsky. “It could be hiding anywhere.

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“It’s very unnerving to have a non-native species in our neighborhood. It makes you think, ‘What else do they have?’ ”

After authorities passed out fliers about the cobra, Jan Gordon, a 22-year resident of the neighborhood, locked her ducks and geese in a chicken coop and began keeping her collies indoors. She said the neighborhood is full of horses and other animals.

The motorist who saw the snake crossing the street declined to provide his name. Private snake specialists Jose Mendoza and Corbin Williams, who were helping search for the cobra, cornered it until animal control officers hurried to the scene.

The snake, placed in a wooden box after its capture, was to be taken to the Los Angeles Zoo, where it will be evaluated.

Brandon Dowling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, praised Thousand Oaks residents “for letting us trample through their yards” looking for the cobra.

“We’re happy that residents of Thousand Oaks can sleep better tonight,” Dowling said.

Residents believe a neighbor probably owned the pet, possibly illegally. Owners of such reptiles are required to obtain an exotic animal permit from the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The cobra’s owner could face a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 fine for not having a permit.

Those following the search for the snake on social media had a field day with the cobra’s capture.

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Grace Reaza commented on Twitter that “the cobra had a hissssy fit and resisted officials” when it was caught.

The snake’s own Twitter account, @AlbinoMonoCobra, blasted out more than 200 tweets during the search, including one late-hour observation:

“Hey, incarceration ain’t so bad. Taking a trip to the @LAZoo for a checkup! Think they’ll let me visit Reggie the alligator while there?”

bob.pool@latimes.com

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Times staff writer Adolfo Flores contributed to this report.


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