Deadly reptile call turns out to be fake snake

WOODCREST, Calif.- - A report of a poisonous snake slithering across the lawn of a Woodcrest home turned out to be no cause for alarm, but it did add a little comic relief to a Riverside County animal control officer's routine, officials said Tuesday.

According to Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh, the agency received a call from a resident in the 17600 block of Log Hill Road Saturday, regarding a possible King Cobra making its way across a neighbor's lawn.

Animal control Officer Adam Haisten was sent to investigate and immediately spotted the supposed lethal snake on the grass. After carefully examining it from a safe distance, however, he relaxed.

``Although rather realistic ... up close, the blank expression and rubber teeth pretty much lowered the threat level to zero,'' Haisten said. ``I couldn't help but start laughing.''

The mean-looking but harmless rubber snake was left where it lay, and Haisten then called the concerned resident.

``I could hear her embarrassment, and she couldn't help to start laughing,'' the officer said. ``But she also was apologizing profusely. I am pretty sure I heard her husband in the background laughing hysterically.''

Haisten told the woman he understood how the mistake could be made, and he noted that it was ``better to be safe than sorry.''

According to Welsh, the Department of Animal Services has captured a number of exotic creatures over the years -- including a 15-foot Burmese python. However, cobras have not been in the mix.

For laughs, Haisten left a note on the fake snake owner's door, advising that the county had come by to seize it.

No citation was issued.

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