Man Who Lost Venomous Spitting Zebra Cobra Has 75 Snakes Seized From Home

A man in North Carolina has had his collection of snakes seized after police were called to a report of one missing from his home.

Christopher Gifford, 21, faces criminal charges including 36 counts of improper enclosures, three counts of mislabeled enclosures and one count of failure to report escape. Police were made aware of his large collection of snakes when his zebra cobra was reported to have escaped on June 29.

A Raleigh Police Department animal control officer responded to the 7000 block of Sandringham Drive after receiving a report of a live snake on the porch of Gifford's home.

However, when an officer arrived at the scene, the zebra cobra was missing, prompting a warning to local residents. The snake was eventually found and safely detained on July 1.

Gifford's lawyer, Anna Smith Felts, previously told Newsweek that the snake had actually been missing since November.

Felts has now confirmed to local media that 75 snakes have now been taken from Gifford's home, with lawmakers pushing for a change in the law that would prohibit people from owning dangerous snakes.

Gifford has a huge online following and frequently shares videos of his snake collection on TikTok, where he has more than 468,000 followers.

Felts told ABC 11 that authorities previously conducted a check of his home in March and found no issues. Felts added that Gifford is certified in snake handling and lawfully possessed all the snakes at his home.

"Everything was up to standards and in full compliance with the law," Felts said. "He did everything he could to rectify the situation and is fully cooperating."

While it is currently legal to own venomous snakes, state lawmakers are currently pushing legislation that would outlaw possessing dangerous reptiles.

The proposed law would prohibit people from owning venomous snakes not native to North Carolina. It is modeled on current South Carolina legislation.

"I think that, frankly, people are aghast we don't have laws on the book," Jay Chaudhuri, a North Carolina state senator, said.

Those who are already in possession of a venomous snake would have to register it with the department of environmental and natural resources as well as taking out a million-dollar liability insurance policy.

"This is a real public safety issue. I mean, you literally had neighborhoods where folks were not going out because of the fear of safety," Chaudhuri added.

"There's no good reason for someone to possess 75 non-native, venomous snakes, and there's no reason for someone to possess more than 20 non-native venomous snakes."

Raleigh City Council member David Knight is also is hoping for a change in the law in the wake of Gifford's zebra cobra escaping.

"It could have ended tragically ... as a consequence of irresponsible, reckless and dangerous behavior," Knight said.

There will be a town hall on July 22, where lawmakers hope to discuss the introduction of the bill.

Gifford has been contacted for comment.

zebra cobra
The Zebra Cobra snake was eventually found and safely detained on July 1 after escaping in Raleigh, North Carolina.. Raleigh Polcie Department