Cobra on the Loose in Texas — Could Cobras Survive here?
Cobras are the most feared snake in the world. And rightly so, as cobra venom is deadly. While a cobra’s venom is not the most potent of poison, they deliver a lot of it in a single bite. They can deliver enough venom to kill 20 people or even an elephant. Worldwide, 15,000 people a year.
Cobras live in Asia on the other side of the world from India through China, with several species in Africa. So the best thing about them is that they don't live in Texas…right?
A year ago a West African Banded Cobra escaped from its enclosure in Grand Prairie, Texas. The snake has never been found. The owner of the snake was charged with violating Paks and Wildlife Code 43.853. That’s small comfort to the people of his neighborhood and all of Texas at large. Plus, current Texas law allows for the keeping of exotic pets with permits, although some cities limit them within city limits.
Fortunately, San Angelo prohibits possession of Class Reptilia: All venomous snakes, venomous lizards and other venomous animals within the Class Reptilia and animals in the Order Crocodilia.
Given that Texas law allows permits people to possess some of these exotic snakes, is it just a matter of time before a deadly snake escapes here in Texas and populates our state with a new threat to humans, livestock and pets?
Many invasive species including Burmese pythons have invaded Florida, so one scary question arises. Could a pregnant cobra populate Texas with a population of deadly cobras?
The good news is that this particular breed of cobra lives mostly in savanna and grasslands and along streams and well-vegetated areas, particularly forests. This is not the terrain of West Texas. Also, these snakes are not found in latitudes beyond 14 degrees north. San Angelo is more than double that at 31.4638 north latitude.
It is possible cobras could populate extreme south Texas and coastal areas, but even there freezing temperatures cannot be ruled out and probably mean cobras are not going to populate Texas. Other invasive venomous snake species might be possible, but there’s a low likelihood. Besides, we have our hands full with coral, rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouth snakes here in Texas.
In the meantime, it might be time for a little tighter control of these kind of animals. We don't want to find ourselves stuck with another deadly snake or other animal to contend with because of someone's negligence.