Florida wildlife authorities are reducing the number of officers involved in the search for a king cobra snake that escaped from its Orlando home last week.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Greg Workman said that multiple traps have been set with dead snakes as bait to lure the 8-foot venomous cobra out of hiding. Workman said the cobra was fed in a similar way in captivity.
Officials said they're worried that if they keep looking for the snake in the woods, the scent of humans will weaken the smell of the bait in the traps.
Workman said at least one patrol officer will regularly check the traps and the 5-acre property.
Wildlife officials said they hoped that scaling back the search would make the cobra feel more comfortable about coming out from its hiding spot.
Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have been searching for the cobra since last Wednesday, Sept. 2., when the non-native, venomous snake escaped from a home on the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road, which is used as a rescue facility for exotic animals.
FWC, along with a half-dozen others who are privately licensed to capture venomous snakes, have been searching a 10-acre property surrounding snake owner Mike Kennedy's home.
Expert Bob Cross is helping search for the snake, but he said locating it in 60 acres of land could be next to impossible.
"It's rough," Cross said. "Got to try to find your way through there, make sure you don't step on or near this snake or another snake. Just walk slow and be careful."
The snake is 8-feet long, which is small by king cobra standards, officials said. They can grow up to 18-feet in length.
"This snake is huge, can inject a lot of venom, so it's dangerous," Cross said.
WFTV learned Kennedy has at least one other king cobra and he's also licensed to own a Burmese python, a viper or rattlesnake and venomous lizards, along with several other wild animals.
It's not the first time Kennedy has had a king cobra escape. The last time it happened, the snake was shot by a homeowner who found it in his garage.
Authorities said the Kennedy could face a fine in the latest escape.
Officials haven't said whether any of the other animals that live at Dragon Ranch will be seized.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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