Tenino resident Brittney Anderson was shocked to discover a 5-foot snake outside of a Tenino apartment complex Tuesday night.
The snake was inches from Anderson when she stepped outside of the building at Fifth and Main streets for a cigarette break. At first, she did a double take.
“It took me a second to register it was a snake,” she said.
Fearing the snake might bite her, Anderson first approached one of her neighbors who owns snakes to see if he was missing one of his pets, but all of his snakes were accounted for.
“It wasn’t his. I thought, ‘Oh crap, now what do I do?’ ” Anderson said.
She called animal control in Tacoma because it was the only place open at the time. Employees told her to capture the snake so it wouldn’t freeze to death before sunrise.
“I didn’t want it to die; I’d feel awful if it was someone’s pet, so we caught it,” she said.
Intimidated by the snake’s size, Anderson called her uncle Lonnie Anderson for help. Lonnie Anderson captured the snake and he and Brittney held onto it until officials from Tacoma could pick it up.
“I searched the whole block area trying to figure out who owns the snake. It couldn’t have gotten very far,” he said. “It was ice cold when I found it. I held it for 30 to 45 minutes to get it to warm up.”
Connie Patterson, Thurston County Animal Services shelter manager, said the situation is unusual. In 2014, the shelter had just one report of a domestic snake found. Tortoises, porcupines and pig recoveries are more common than that of domestic snakes, she said.
The shelter has a holding pen for reptiles with heat and lights, but she said the space is not large enough for long-term stays. In a situation such as the one in Tenino, Patterson said, the shelter would contact Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society in Seattle to help place the reptile.
Lonnie Anderson said he knows of a few people who own snakes, and one person is considering taking the reptile if the owner isn’t found.