Looking down into a toilet bowl only to see a snake slithering up for air is a scenario most only expect to see in their worst nightmares -- but it can happen.
Just ask Ben Tedrick, who is an employee of The Eagle.
Tedrick said while he is no stranger to dealing with snakes, pulling a 5-foot Texas rat snake out of a toilet was a first for him.
The snake was found in a rural house in north Brazos County after utilities were turned on after several years of vacancy. Tedrick said after being alerted to the snake's presence by a member of the cleaning crew at the house Saturday, he made a makeshift snake catcher with a mop handle and string and "just waited for its head to come out."
Tedrick said although the situation itself was surprising, he said he was most caught off-guard by the strength of the snake and how much force it took to remove it from the pipe.
"I was impressed," he said. "I had him out about three feet when he coiled up again, and he pulled me forward. I was afraid his head was going to pop off, but he was perfectly OK. You could tell when I released him, it was like nothing [happened]."
Tedrick added, however, that under a different set of circumstances he may have left the snake alone to find its way out of the sewer system and back into the wild.
"I wouldn't have messed with it if it would have been able to escape on its own, but it was not getting out of that sewer system," Tedrick said. "Plus, we had people working, trying to get stuff done, and it's just a distraction. It's your worst nightmare."
Lee A. Fitzgerald, Texas A&M professor in the department of wildlife and fisheries sciences and an expert in herpetology, said while situations like this do occasionally happen, it is by no means a likely scenario.
"People shouldn't be worried at all," Fitzgerald said. "You could never predict this. There is nothing about construction practices or building codes or anything like that could play a factor. It's just a random, uncommon thing to have a snake coming out of the toilet. It's rare."
Fitzgerald said during periods of colder weather snakes typically retreat into the ground, under large objects or into dry water pipes and sewers as a way of keeping warm. He said this is probably the reason the snake found its way into the house's then-dry septic system before it was flushed out when the water was turned on.
Should anyone be unfortunate enough to find a snake in their toilet, Fitzgerald said he recommends remaining calm, closing the bathroom door and calling local animal control officials.
"I wouldn't do anything rash like pour chemicals down the toilet or anything dangerous like that," Fitzgerald said. "... This happens. Snakes in the septic system are uncommon, but they're not unheard of. It's alarming, especially to find a big snake like that, but really it's just one of those random wildlife encounters."