LOS ANGELES — If Southern California is indeed an Eden, then its serpent has been found.
An exotic deadly snake — a white cobra — was captured Thursday after it earlier escaped from its unknown owner onto the well-to-do streets of the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks, authorities said.
Though no further details were immediately available Thursday afternoon, the hunt for the poisonous animal provoked alarm for local officials and residents and also inspired dark humor in social media.
Earlier in the week, authorities urged families to keep children from playing hiding-and-seek lest they encounter the deadly serpent.
“It is vitally important for families to closely supervise children and instruct them to avoid any snakes, as well as playing in and around animal burrows, pipes and culverts where snakes may seek refuge,” the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control said.
Jokesters created at least three Twitter accounts for the runaway reptile.
“Ugh. Imposter cobras fanning out everywhere,” one offered. “Time to strike back — how hard is it for a snake to get verified on Twitter, @realDonaldTrump?”
The growing national fascination made one wonder, where’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi when you need him?
The snake is an albino monocled cobra, and instead of being hunted by plucky mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” fame, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control and California fish and wildlife officials conducted the search.
The snake, whose scientific name is Naja kaouthia, was considered extremely dangerous.
“It is not known if the cobra has had its venom glands removed. Animal Care & Control Officers are operating under the assumption that the cobra is venomous until they confirm otherwise,” David A. Sommers, a county spokesman, said in a statement.
Monocled cobras are common throughout parts of Asia. Their bite can be deadly, and they can be quick to strike, snake experts say.
“They never chill out. They never relax,” according to the website Thailand Snakes. “They are always ready to serve up a plate of death for you — if you’re dumb enough to get too close.”
The snake bit a dog, which is expected to make a full recovery.
CNN’s Michael Pearson and Mesrop Najarian contributed to this report. Michael Martinez wrote and reported from Los Angeles.