Germany: Escaped cobra captured after 5-day hunt | News | DW | 30.08.2019
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Germany: Escaped cobra captured after 5-day hunt

A highly venomous snake spent several days on the loose in a German town, prompting authorities to evacuate several houses. It was eventually spotted by a worker who had been mowing the grass.

Residents of a housing block in Herne in Germany's northwest clapped on Friday evening as firefighters took away the monocled cobra that had been on the loose for most of the week. Around 30 of them had been forced to evacuate their houses to avoid meeting the highly venomous animal.

"It's finally gone and we can go back inside," local resident Collin Bleck told the DPA news agency.

A woman first spotted the cobra, estimated to be about 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) in length, in a stairwell of a residential building on Sunday. City officials believe the reptile likely escaped from an enclosure in one man's apartment, where the authorities discovered 20 more venomous snakes. The man denies that the monocled cobra came from his collection.

'It moved and tried to hide'

The sighting prompted the authorities to evacuate the building and several other homes in area. Officials blocked pipes and drains in some of the apartments and spread flour around the buildings in the hope that the reptile would leave a trail.

Cobra in Herne (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Bleck)

The cobra (partially visible below the door in the photo) was first spotted by a building resident

Firefighters meticulously searched the area, but without success.

On Friday afternoon, however, a municipal worker spotted a "yellow-goldish animal" while moving the lawn in front of the building where the snake had been seen on Sunday. The snake was startled by the noise made by the lawn mower and fled towards the basement entrance.

"It moved and tried to hide," the 52-year-old worker Andreas Wilczek told the DPA news agency.

"I see snakes pretty often, but it was a shock for me," he added.

Caught in a noose

Wilczek alerted his supervisor who reported the sighting to the authorities. Eventually, a snake expert arrived to the scene and managed to isolate the cobra on one of the steps leading to the basement. He then used a noose to capture it.

"Nobody was injured," city officials said on Twitter.

Local police representative Johannes Chudziak told reporters that the animal would likely only survive for a few weeks on its own, as temperatures in Germany are expected to drop below its comfort zone.

Officials will now probe if the Asian snake came from the enclosure belonging to one of the residents. All other snakes have been removed from his apartment.

dj/rt (dpa, AFP)

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