‘Houdini’ snake eludes capture at zoo in Sweden

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Zoo staff in Sweden tracked down an escaped king cobra, only for it to vanish a second time after its daring initial departure, authorities said Friday.

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The snake, named Sir Vas (Sir Hiss), slithered off last weekend through a lamp fixture in a terrarium he had been brought to a few days earlier at the Skansen Aquarium in Stockholm.

Following his disappearing act, the venomous vagrant was renamed Houdini -- in honor of the famed escape artist.

The zoo’s reptile section has been closed since then and staff spread out flour on the floor and deployed sticky traps to try and trace and capture the scaly fugitive.

Customs agents were also asked to assist in the search, with X-ray machines and special cameras normally used to detect illicit narcotics.

On Friday, it looked like the jig was up for the escaped elapid when it was found hiding inside a wall.

But the crafty serpent dodged capture once more.

“Sir Vas located -- and gone again!” Swedish Customs said in statement posted on social media.

“Thanks to methodical work, Sir Vas could at last be located inside an interior wall near the terrarium,” the authority said.

“Happy and content, our colleagues were able to conclude the operation, but on Friday Sir Vas managed to escape again,” it added.

The terrarium in question had housed king cobras for about 15 years, Jonas Wahlstrom, director of the Skansen Aquarium, told AFP earlier in the week.

But the clever new tenant took advantage of the fact that staff had recently replaced the lamp at the top of the enclosure with a low-energy bulb.

Unlike previous lamps it was not hot enough to scare the snake away, and it managed to wedge its head between the bulb and the light fixture and slither its way out.

King cobras, originally from South and Southeast Asia, are the world's longest venomous snake.

They mainly prey on other snakes but their bites can be fatal to humans if untreated.

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