Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 | 5:55 p.m.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Southern California animal control officers hunted Wednesday for a highly venomous cobra that bit a dog and then slithered off into a suburban Los Angeles neighborhood.
Authorities warned that the neurotoxin venom from the albino monocled cobra can be deadly and urged people to call 911 if they saw the snake.
"Do not approach it, do not try to capture it, do not try to kill it," said Brandon Dowling, a Los Angeles County spokesman.
If the snake does bite someone, antivenom will be flown in from the San Diego Zoo, Dowling said.
The cobra, photographed near a wall, appeared to be several feet long. It bit a dog on Monday evening, but the owner didn't report it until Tuesday, Dowling said.
Television news reports showed the dog, named Kiko, with a large red wound on its neck Wednesday but otherwise the pet appeared healthy.
State wildlife officials and county animal control officers searched the area for the snake without luck but planned to keep looking into Wednesday evening, authorities said. They had not located the owner.
Cobras are illegal to own in California except for educational and scientific purposes, and a permit is required.
The monocled cobra, which can grow to more than 4 feet long, gets its name from the ring or circle design on the back of its hood — although the albino appears to be pure white. It is common in Southeast Asia and parts of India and China.
The albino probably was bred in captivity because its color would make it vulnerable to hawks and other predators in the wild, said Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the county's Natural History Museum.
The snake isn't aggressive but will defend itself if cornered, and "to it, a person is a great, big potential predator," Pauly said.
Authorities say the snake probably is more active in the morning and evening when it is cooler and may be holed up somewhere. They urged residents to watch their children and keep them away from animal burrows, pipes and culverts.
Unless the snake is hungry, it may remain "tucked away in a corner somewhere" for several days, Pauly said.
"It's not in its usual home (in captivity)," Pauly said. "It's probably freaking out a little bit. It's probably quite anxious about this situation — as I'm sure the neighbors are as well."