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Owner of venomous zebra cobra that terrorized a North Carolina neighborhood faces 40 charges

TikTok star whose escaped venomous zebra cobra terrorized a North Carolina neighborhood faces 40 charges after police discover deadly reptile was on the loose for SEVEN MONTHS without being reported lost

  • Christopher Michael Gifford, 21, is facing 40 misdemeanor charges that allege he violated state regulations in connection to his ownership of snakes
  • On June 29, a Raleigh resident reported that they had found a zebra cobra outside their home, leading to neighbors staying in their homes out of fear
  • Police discovered that the zebra cobra belonged to Gifford, a snake enthusiast who has nearly half a million TikTok followers and owns 70 snakes
  • Of the 40 misdemeanor charges Gifford is facing, 36 are for keeping various venomous snakes in plastic containers without any locks, Raleigh Police said  
  • He also faces three charges for mislabeling  snake containers and the remaining charge was for not notifying law enforcement when the zebra cobra escaped
  • Gifford’s attorney Anna Felts said he is remorseful and understands the danger he put his neighbors in when he did not report the snake missing

The owner of a venomous spitting zebra cobra that terrorized a North Carolina neighborhood faces 40 charges after authorities discovered that the reptile had been on the loose for months without being reported lost.  

TikTok star and snake enthusiast Christopher Michael Gifford, 21, is accused of multiple violations of state regulations in connection to his ownership of snakes. 

On June 29, a Raleigh resident reported that they had found a zebra cobra outside their home – leading to neighbors locking themselves in their homes out of fear.   

After a two day search, animal control captured the venomous snake. 

Christopher Michael Gifford, 21 (pictured) is facing 40 misdemeanor charges that allege he violated state regulations in connection to his ownership of snakes

On June 29 a Raleigh resident reported that they had found a zebra cobra (pictured)  outside their home, leading to a neighbors staying in their homes out of fear

On June 29 a Raleigh resident reported that they had found a zebra cobra (pictured)  outside their home, leading to a neighbors staying in their homes out of fear

After a two day search animal control  was able to capture the captured the venomous zebra cobra on the loose in a North Carolina neighborhood

After a two day search animal control  was able to capture the captured the venomous zebra cobra on the loose in a North Carolina neighborhood 

Authorities had initially believed the cobra was only missing for a few days but have since discovered that it had actually been on the loose since November 2020. 

Police discovered that the snake belonged to Gifford, who has nearly half a million TikTok followers and owns more than 70 snakes. 

Gifford’s multiple social media accounts document his love of reptiles and he frequently post himself petting and feeding his various snakes.

Of the 40 misdemeanor charges Gifford is facing, 36 are for keeping various venomous snakes in plastic containers without any locks, Raleigh Police said

Three others involved mislabeling the snake containers and the remaining charge was for not notifying law enforcement when the zebra cobra escaped.

Gifford, a snake enthusiast, has nearly half a million TikTok followers and owns over 70 snakes

Gifford, a snake enthusiast, has nearly half a million TikTok followers and owns over 70 snakes

Gifford's multiple social media accounts document his love of reptiles and he frequently post himself petting and feeding his various snakes (pictured)

Gifford’s multiple social media accounts document his love of reptiles and he frequently post himself petting and feeding his various snakes (pictured) 

Snakes are legal to own as pets in North Carolina, but they must be enclosed. 

North Carolina state law G.S. 14-417 states:

‘It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, use, transport, or traffic in any venomous reptile that is not housed in a sturdy and secure enclosure. Enclosures shall be designed to be escape-proof, bite-proof, and have an operable lock.’

Gifford’s attorney Anna Felts told WRAL.com that he spoke to animal control and that he is ‘stressed’ over the dozens of charges. 

‘Clearly, he’s stressed. He hasn’t faced any charges like this before,’ Felts said. ‘Although they are minor in nature… it’s clearly stressful on his family.’ 

Felts told WRAL.com that Gifford is remorseful for the incident and understands the danger he put his neighbors in when he did not report the snake missing. 

Gifford made headlines back in March when he was bitten by his venomous pet green mamba snake.

Zebra cobras are known for their deadly venom and are native to southern Africa, including Angola, Namibia and South Africa. 

The are especially dangerous as they can spit the venom, causing blindness, pain, swelling, blistering, and in some cases, death, the African Snake Bite Institute said. 

However, zebra cobras are considered shy snakes and only defend themselves if stressed, spitting as far away as 9 feet, according to WRAL, a local Raleigh news station.

They are usually black or brown in color with light cross bars, and average 4 feet in length.  

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