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Albino cobra probably won’t last long on its own, official says

As the search continued Thursday for a potentially lethal cobra in Thousand Oaks, some news to ease the nerves: The dog that was reportedly injured by the snake did not require antivenom, and the snake, as an albino, probably won’t last long on its own, officials said.

The albino monocled cobra, which hails from Southeast Asia, probably didn’t get very far and is likely hiding where it was last seen, in the 1300 block of Rancho Lane on Monday. That’s where the venomous cobra bit a 7-year-old whippet named Teko in the neck.

The bite landed Teko in a veterinary clinic, but the dog has been released and is expected to make a full recovery.

Since a bite from a cobra can kill an adult human in as little as 60 minutes -- depending on his or her immune system -- that Teko the dog was able to survive raised some questions about whether the snake’s venom glands had been removed.

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Los Angeles County officials on Thursday said they won’t know if the cobra’s glands were removed until it is caught, so they are operating on the assumption that it is venomous and potentially lethal.

They did confirm, however, that the dog did not receive antivenom and its injuries were “inconsistent with a classic venomous snake bite,” according to Brandon Dowling, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control.

He could not elaborate further, saying officials were still trying to get details about the animal’s care.

The Thousand Oaks-based Conejo Valley Veterinary Hospital declined to elaborate on the dog’s condition or treatment, but said in a message posted on the clinic’s Facebook page that Teko was in stable condition.

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Even if the snake is venomous, nature may take care of the threat soon enough. 

Its white, almost translucent scales would eventually make the monocled cobra highly visible in the neighborhood’s wooded, brushy landscape, a virtual advertisement for predators, said Janice Mackey, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It’s white. It’s albino. It’s going to be highly visible,” she said. “It could definitely face some challenges out there.”

In the meantime, the hunt will continue, officials say.

“At this point, we are going to keep searching until we find it,” said Denise Rosen, manager at the county Department of Animal Care and Control in Agoura Hills.

The days-long search effort has left residents on edge as officials issue warnings to keep pets inside.

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

The owner of cobra has so far not been identified. He or she could face a misdemeanor charge for owning a cobra without a state permit, Mackey said. The penalty could bring a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 fine, she added.

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For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.


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