The bathroom is a quiet sanctuary — a respite from the undulating chaos of life. So imagine one man’s response when he was asked to fish a six-foot-long snake out of his 88-year-old neighbor’s toilet. And as uniquely horrifying as that might sound, a snake expert tells Inverse it’s not nearly as uncommon as you might think… or hope.

Mike Greene, a resident of Lattimore, North Carolina, tells local news outlet WCNC that he got the unusual request for help from his neighbor last month. In a now-viral video, Greene pulls the snake out of his neighbor’s toilet with his bare hands. It seems like Mike may have had some practice — apparently, this is the fourth snake that’s crawled into this particular octogenarian’s home in the last six years.

“It has gone crazy,” Greene says about his now-viral video. “If I had the idea and tried this on purpose it never would have happened.”

So how exactly does a snake wind up in a toilet, a place where humans are perhaps at their most vulnerable? According to herpetologist Nicole F. Angeli, a researcher at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, it’s not that uncommon for reptiles — including snakes — to make their way into a toilet.

“It happens!” she tells Inverse. “I had a friend who found a ground lizard (Ameiva exul) crawl in through the pipe that connected to her washing machine, went through a wash cycle, and survived.”

Angeli added that snakes may enter a person’s plumbing systems for many reasons. “They may be looking for water or tracking prey animals that entered leaky pipes,” Angeli said. “They could also simply be looking for a nice cool place to hide.”

In this case, it seems the snake could have gotten into the toilet via some leak in the septic system.

“If he uses a municipal sewer system, then he’d best be tracking the edges of his pipes,” Angeli said.

So if you happen to be confronted by a toilet snake on your own, my heartfelt and semi-professional advice is to run — fast.


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