TikToker’s poisonous cobra has escaped and apologizes to the North Carolina community

A TikToker who threw the city of Raleigh, North Carolina into panic last year after his deadly zebra cobra snake escaped his care is now asking for forgiveness as he speaks out for the first time since the ‘incident.

Chris Gifford, 22, a famous TikTok snake master with over half a million followers on the platform, lost one of his African zebra cobras and the snake spent months on the loose before dying. finally being found on the porch of a Raleigh home in July 2021.

Gifford was hit with more than 40 misdemeanor charges, ordered to pay hefty fines and forced to surrender more than 75 of his reptiles following the chilling ordeal, according to WRAL.

“It was on a lady’s porch. Imagine if a small child or something of that nature had happened? Gifford told WRAL, speaking for the first time since the frenzy.

He pleaded guilty to notifying authorities of the snake’s disappearance when it escaped in November 2020.

Chris Gifford, a 22-year-old TikTok creator, has apologized for letting one of his poisonous African zebra cobras escape, causing panic in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Knowing that an animal that you were supposed to take responsibility for, and because of your mistake and not making a call, came out… I was in tears,” Gifford said. “What I learned is you make the call, you hold yourself accountable, which I didn’t.”

Gifford said he bought the two snakes when they were babies, just “eight, nine inches”, in November 2020 to add to his collection. He placed the snakes in separate containers while they went through a quarantine process so they wouldn’t spread disease to his other animals.

When he came to check the cages one morning, one of the snakes was missing. He noticed that the lid had not been closed properly

It was “just this giant, ‘Oh shit’ moment,” he said. He started to panic.

Gifford eventually plans to collect snakes again after being ordered by the court not to buy poisonous snakes until August.
Raleigh Police Department

“Immediately, just a frantic search. Check everything and everywhere,” he said.

He was almost certain the snake had crept into his parents’ basement, as there was no way he could escape from the “foolproof” room where he kept his pets.

After a search however, he and his father discovered a small room for an Ethernet cable that he had forgotten to cover. The cable led to a crawl space, so Gifford remained confident the snake was still in the house.

“By this point we had bombarded the basement with chemicals, set up cameras. That’s when the discussion about reporting comes up,” he told the outlet. He said he convinced his parents not to report the missing snake. Even if he was out, he didn’t think the African snake would survive a winter in North Carolina.

According to WRAL, 50 nights below freezing that winter eased the anxieties of the Giffords. In the spring, however, animal control came knocking on the door.

The missing cobra, now larger, was spotted about three blocks away, the officer told him. When she asked Gifford if it was hers, he freaked out.

“I was petrified. I did not know what to do. I was afraid. I didn’t know what the precautions would be,” he said. “And none of that was an excuse. Immediately, I said I had no idea.

After being overwhelmed with guilt, he called animal control and confessed that the cobra was his.

Gifford was eventually ordered by a judge to return $35,000 worth of snakes to the county and pay $13,162 in restitution for the resources needed to find the cobra, WRAL reported. Seized snakes are to be used for anti-venom research and development.

“Most of the time it’s just excuses because there is no excuse for what happened,” he said.

He is prohibited from possessing poisonous snakes until August. He said he planned to start collecting snakes again, but would not keep them at his parents’ house.

“I love these animals and can share them on social media,” he said.

Sam D. Gomez