Venomous snake on the loose in Germany as residents urged to shut windows and doors

Credit: AP/PA

An escaped cobra is on the loose in a city in western Germany, and authorities are desperately trying to track it down.

Residents within a 500-yard radius are being urged to keep their doors and windows closed and officials have laid down two-sided sticky tape to stop the reptile.

The 4.6 foot-long cobra escaped from an apartment in Herne on Sunday, after being spotted in a hallway.

The roughly 4.6-foot long cobra escaped from an apartment on Sunday [stock photo].

Four buildings within the apartment block were evacuated as a precaution and residents were forced to stay with family, friends and at a city shelter.

Herne Mayor Frank Dudda said: "We are trying everything to reinstate security so that people can return to their apartments."

Officials sprinkled flour in the building in hopes that the snake would leave a trail.

Police said on Monday that the cobra's whereabouts are still unknown.

The snake is believed to be in the cellar, but people have been warned to avoid walking through high grass.

Officials believe the snake is still in the cellar of a block of apartments. Credit: AP

Snakeskin found in the cellar of the building earlier in the week wasn't enough evidence to ensure the reptile was still in the building, the city's council head Johannes Chudziak, said.

An antivenom required to treat this particular snakebite is in store at a nearby Dusseldorf hospital if someone is bitten, officials said.

The man who owned the cobra kept other snakes in his apartment, all of which have been confiscated by authorities, but how and why he owned the animals is unclear.

The incident has reignited public debate over the introduction of a dangerous animal law that would prohibit residents from keeping the species.

Mayor Dudda said: "The present regulations are not sufficient."