NEW YORK (AP) — The Bronx Zoo may still be looking for its missing cobra, but a tongue-in-cheek Twitter user is charting its supposed progress.
Someone using the handle BronxZoosCobra has been tweeting to a quickly growing number of followers — more than 85,000 by early Tuesday evening. In contrast with the user posing as the 20-inch, highly venomous snake, the Bronx Zoo had about 6,000 followers.
"On top of the Empire State Building!" BronxZoosCobra posted. "All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice."
Tweets included one about "Sex and the City": "I'm totally a SSSamantha."
Another entry riffed on the weather and New Yorkers' fears of the slithering escapee: "It's getting pretty cold out. I think it's probably time to crash. Oh look, an apartment window someone left open just a crack. Perfect!"
The Reptile House at the Bronx Zoo, run by the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society, closed Friday after zoo workers searched but did not find the Egyptian cobra. Zoo officials said Monday they were confident the snake was hiding in the Reptile House but conceded that finding it would be difficult.
"The difficulty is that the 20-inch, pencil-thin snake, which is months old and weighs less than 3 ounces, has sought out a secure hiding spot within the Reptile House," the zoo said, describing it as a "complex environment with pumps, motors and other mechanical systems."
The user behind BronxZoosCobra refused to identify himself or herself or say who was typing the tweets.
"The iPhone touch screen works just as well with a tail," the person said in an email to The Associated Press signed, "Thankssss."
Asked about the Twitter feed's popularity, BronxZoosCobra "knew it would be popular with reptilian twitterers and a mild appeal to amphibians. Surprised the mammal response has been so huge."
Kris Stoever, a writer and editor from Denver, said she found the cobra tweeting very witty.
"It's a missing snake on the lam. It's the stuff of comedy legend," Stoever said in a telephone interview.
The only twitter account the snake was following was the one belonging to the Bronx Zoo, (at)TheBronxZoo. The zoo's account tweeted one message on Monday saying it understands the interest in the story.
"Right now," the zoo said, "it's the snake's game."
It could take weeks before the cobra feels secure enough to come out of hiding, the zoo said.
Though the cobra Twitter feed is clearly meant to be humorous, a real-life encounter with the snake would be no laughing matter.
Jeff Corwin, a wildlife expert for the Animal Planet cable network, said the snake may be small but "has very toxic venom" and "should be respected."
It's unlikely that the cobra, accustomed to a subtropical climate, would survive very long in the Northeast cold if it leaves the Reptile House, Corwin said.
Asked how the snake was faring in the cold, the user behind the Twitter account said: "Hiding in passerbys' scarves has been working for me so far, but I'm thinking about heading to a sauna to warm up for a bit."
New Yorkers, accustomed to urban legends about alligators thriving in the sewers, shouldn't be too worried, Corwin said.
"The truth is, you can sit on your toilet with comfort and relaxation," he said. "There will be no baby cobras coming up for a nibble."
Associated Press writer Ula Ilnytzky and AP news researcher Monika Mathur contributed to this report.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
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