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Albino cobra on the loose in Southern California neighborhood

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animal control specialists searched for an albino cobra that was on the loose on Wednesday in a Southern California suburb, where the venomous reptile has slithered around at least since it bit a dog two days ago, officials said.

Three animal control workers were out in the community of Thousand Oaks looking for the cobra, which would typically venture out to hunt for food in the evening, said Los Angeles County animal control officer Alfred Aguirre.

Officials said it remained unclear who might own the snake, which is illegal to possess in California without a permit, or how and when it got loose in the suburban neighborhood a few hundred feet from a freeway.

The snake bit a dog in the neighborhood on Monday, officials said. The dog's owner took photographs of the snake and alerted authorities. The pet has since recovered from the bite, which occurred in an area where residents have some experience with rattlesnakes, Aguirre said.

"People are a little more freaked out because obviously cobras don't live in this area, but it's just as dangerous as any of the rattlesnakes that we have living in this area," he said.

Families in the neighborhood have been advised to keep close watch on their children and to tell them to not approach any snakes, but residents have not been advised to leave their homes, said Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Betsey Webster.

California Department of Fish and Game officers and Ventura County Sheriff's Office deputies have helped in the search.

Thousand Oaks is in Ventura County but it pays the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control to serve the city, Webster said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)