Grand Prairie

One Year Later, Venomous Cobra Missing in Grand Prairie Still Has Not Been Found

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One year after Grand Prairie officials warned residents about a missing venomous cobra, the snake still has yet to be found.

The cobra’s owner, 23-year-old Lawrence Matl, was arrested six months ago in connection to the snake's disappearance, according to the Grand Prairie Police Department.

Matl, 23, was arrested on a warrant for violating Parks and Wildlife Code 43.853, which says that “a person may not intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence release or allow the release from captivity” of a venomous nonindigenous snake.

Matl reported the West African Banded Cobra missing from his home in the 1800 block of Cherry Street on Aug. 3, 2021, telling Animal Services officers that he noticed the snake was missing from its enclosure.

Matl and a snake apprehension professional searched for the cobra inside and outside of the residence, but the snake was never found.

There have been no sightings of the snake since.

Several months after the cobra was first reported missing, NBC 5 revisited the snake's disappearance after several viewers asked for updates.

"Did they ever find that missing cobra snake? I saw the report where it was missing but nothing after that," asked Lance.

"Concerned that no one is actively looking for this deadly Cobra Snake," said Jo. "Isn't ANYONE CONCERNED?"

NBC 5 asked Grand Prairie officials for an update on the snake's whereabouts in December 2021.

"There is no update - still missing," said Grand Prairie Public Information Officer Mark Beseda. "If there ever is an update, I will notify the media with a press release."

Authorities tell residents if they see any type of reptile similar to the cobra that disappeared to not approach it and immediately call 911.

Area hospitals are also prepared with safety protocols on how to treat this type of snakebite in the event of someone comes into contact with the cobra.

“This could be deadly for an adult. It’s an extremely dangerous snake if you’re bitten,” said Randall Kennedy of Dallas Fort Worth Wildlife Control.

Kennedy also said the species of cobra tends to be very aggressive only when approached or provoked.

“First they’ll kind of stand up and show you their hood and try to warn you to get back,” said Kennedy. “Unfortunately, if you were bit by it, it’s very devastating. Lots of tissue damage immediately. You can go into a coma. It can attack the nervous system.”

Grand Prairie Police said Matl did have a valid state-issued license to own the venomous cobra.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department did issue him a permit for this type of snake. He did have that permit granted by the state,” Officer Beseda said at the time of the snake's disappearance. “We’re looking into that permit. What does it take to get that permit, why is the permit granted in a residential area?”

However, Matl admits that he made a mistake.

“There were simple protocols that could have, five screws could’ve stopped this. It just gives a bad look for the community and I’m sorry too to the reptile community and my local community,” Matl told NBC 5.

Matl said he believes the snake likely slithered into his walls or attic and died in the heat.

He is currently being held at the Grand Prairie Detention Center with a bond of $10,000.00.

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