Allen Shepard was understandably stunned when he found a four-foot snake in the toilet bowl of his Graniteville apartment yesterday morning.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Talk about a wakeup call!
Allen Shepard answered nature's summons in his Graniteville apartment yesterday morning, then stepped to the vanity to brush his teeth. Granted, it's all a bit fuzzy at 6:30 a.m., but Shepard swore he saw something slithering in the toilet bowl.
"What the hell is that?" he yelled.
It wasn't his imagination: It was a four-foot-long California Kingsnake.
"I came out [of the bathroom] and closed the door and I got a broom. The snake was getting up on top of the rim, ready to strike," said the terrified tenant, who was alone in the flat.
The hissing snake struck at the broom and wouldn't let go.
Shepard knew he was next on the menu.
Angry but still eco-friendly, he grabbed a bottle of Clorox Greenworks and sprayed the monster with it.
The California King wasn't impressed. Shepard felt that if the snake could talk, it would ask, "That all you got?"
Unfortunately, that is all Shepard had.
He said he managed to keep the snake partially coiled around the broom and closed the door. Then he summoned Karen Genco, the super at the Bridgeview Apartments on Richmond Avenue.
The incredulous Ms. Genco rousted Kenneth Rosenthal, owner of the Mariners Harbor-based 1-800-CLOGGED Response Service Group.
By the time Rosenthal arrived, only a portion of the snake -- about 12 inches -- could be seen protruding from the toilet rim. "You're scared of a little snake like this?" Rosenthal said to the strapping, 33-year-old Shepard.
Rosenthal fetched a pole with prongs to grasp the snake.
Now he got a taste of what had freaked out Shepard.
"I went to pull him out and it kept getting longer and longer," the plumber marveled. "I was jumping back.
The battle of man vs. reptile lasted 30 minutes and ended with the snake ensconced in a cooler.
Enter neighbor Keith Kafader, a reptile expert, who volunteered to take it to a sanctuary in Manhattan.
Though frightening, the California King is non-venomous. Rosenthal said it likely migrated from another apartment within the complex, because it could not have survived for more than a day or two in the pipes.
Ms. Genco said residents are permitted to have the reptilian rascals as pets, as well as birds, cats, dogs and gerbils.
When all the slithering was done, Rosenthal, Ms. Genco and Shepard managed to share a laugh and realized they had a priceless tale to tell.
"I've worked over 15 years in that development and I've never seen anything like that," said Rosenthal.
Shepard's 9-year-old daughter, Allenix, said she won't be taking any chances come bathtime.
"My dad will have to go to the bathroom first!" said the precocious PS 22 fourth-grader.
Almost 12 hours later, Shepard said he was still leery.
"I haven't used the toilet yet," he admitted.
Snake's alive in Graniteville -- Some facts about the the non-venomous California Kingsnake
Range- West coast of North America; from the tip of Baja to southern Oregon, and west coast of California to desert areas of Nevada and Arizona
Habitat- Desert, woodlands, chaparral, farmland, river bottoms, grasslands, deciduous and coniferous forests
Status- Not threatened
Diet in the wild-Rodents, birds, lizards, frogs, snakes
Diet in the zoo-Carnivore diet; furry mice and other rodents
Physical description: Varies in its color and patterns from one snake to another, is approximately 30-70 inches in length. Two to three inches of the total length is the tail. The Kingsnake is typical of most snakes in that its lower jaw unhinges enabling it to swallow its meal. The lower jaw consists of two seperate halves that are connected by elastic tissue.