Sunday, March 19, 2017

Suphan Cobra Escapes

Searching for Ocala's Cobra
by Robert A. Waters

My hometown of Ocala sits dead-center in the middle of Florida. It's a one-time small town hoping to go big-city. Some of us would like to build a wall around the city so we can vet the tens of thousands of people who move here each year. But local politicians, like national politicos, want to keep our borders open. They see green while some of us see smog-choked traffic jams and a depleted aquifer.

Ocala rarely makes national headlines. But on Monday, March 12, just ahead of the one cold snap this year, local and national media began reporting that a cobra was missing from an Ocala home. Not just any cobra, but a suphan cobra. Only two-feet long, with gold and brown camouflage (like the leaves in my yard), the suphan's poison is deadly.  CNN, Fox News, CBS and most other outlets breathlessly reported the event. 

Brian Purdy, the cobra's owner, called to report the snake MIA. Soon the neighborhood was swarming with police, EMTs, and wildlife officials.  WTVM reported that the snake “got loose while [Purdy] was at work and an apprentice was taking care of the reptile. He says the snake jumped at him when he lifted the cover of its cage, and then slithered away. After the owner and apprentice could not locate the snake, they called wildlife officials to help.”

Authorities, out of their element and wisely unwilling to put their own lives at risk, called in snake experts from around the state. Inside the house, they found a gaboon viper, an African bush viper and two large venomous lizards. Purdy has a license to own the reptiles. For a week now, experts have repeatedly searched the home and surrounding areas, but the suphan still has not been located.

Fortunately, suphan cobras are warm-blooded and unlikely to stray far because of the cool nights.  But officials state that they will strike if they're disturbed. The weather is beginning to warm up again, and authorities are afraid the snake will be on the move.

Neighbors are understandably jittery. Dogs and children are locked away as residents tip-toe from their homes to their cars.

The Washington Post reports that one expert described how it feels to be bitten by a cobra. “Snake bites are generally very painful and cobra bites really hurt,” he said. “It’s usually almost like a burning pain, which evolves into a deep aching pain that makes you crush your eyes. It’s real deep and real hard, right around the bite area, but the burning pain is right around the fang punctures.”  Another expert stated that a bite from a two-foot suphan cobra could kill an elephant.

But not to worry. Anti-venom expert Jeffery Fobb from Miami Dade Fire Rescue stated that protocols are in place in case someone is bitten. The good thing,” he said, “is we're located on an air field and there is an air field next to the nearest hospital to the incident in Ocala. So a fixed winged aircraft can fly the [anti-venom] up there. We already have it packaged and ready to go in case there is an emergency.”

For real? Why isn't the anti-venom already here? Miami is 300 miles from Ocala.

What happened to the snake?  Did it escape from the house and die in the cold weather?  Did one of the large poisonous lizards eat it?  Or is it hiding in some cubby hole waiting for the activity to clear?

Here's hoping the snake is found and no one gets hurt.

Then Ocala can settle back into its nice, cozy old-fashioned ways, and the media will disappear.  I, for one, can't wait.

(One other thing: that part about building a wall around the city is a joke so don't send me nasty emails about it.  The rest of the article is true.)

1 comment:

Kimberly Evans said...

I dont think that they should have given up the search, im glad to see that somone else in Ocala is still on the lookout for the Ocala Cobra