Snek
Photo: Cymothoa exigua (Wikimedia Commons)

A three-and-a-half-foot mangrove snake has gone missing from an enclosure at New York’s Bronx Zoo.

An escaped snake sounds scary, but in this case it’s nothing for zoo visitors to worry about. According to an email from the zoo, the following sign was posted on the Jungle World exhibit this morning:

Dear Visitors

A 3½ foot long mangrove snake is missing from its exhibit in JungleWorld.

They are mildly venomous, but not dangerous to people.

Mangrove snakes are a shy, arboreal species that are active at night. There is little chance of seeing or coming into contact with this snake due to its timid, secretive nature.

But if you see it, please notify a staff person.

When a tipster told Gizmodo that a snake had gone missing, we naturally envisioned a human-eating fiend on the loose at one of the country’s largest zoos. Fortunately for humanity and unfortunately for the snake, the zoo confirmed that the specimen is merely a terrified, relatively small, secrets-having nocturnal reptile that is somewhat venomous but not venomous enough to kill a person.

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In the wild, you might spot the mangrove snake in southeast Asia. It’s a black snake with yellow spots and spends its days clinging to branches, then descends at night to feed on rodents, birds, and small reptiles, according to one website devoted to Thailand’s national parks. It can even swim!

I’m glad that the snake does not pose a threat to zoo visitors. But I hope someone finds it soon, because this snake sounds like it’s likely experiencing the serpentine version of a panic attack, frightened and alone in the big city during a thunderstorm.

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