Halloween came early this year for a family in Cootamundra, Australia, after it discovered a deadly snake in a cemetery lavatory.
Michael and Dolly Miller, along with their 5-year-old daughter, had been visiting the New South Wales town for the funeral of Michael’s grandmother when the incident occurred.
“We attended Cootamunda cemetery on Wednesday the 11th of October for the burial,” Dolly told Newsweek. “On this day, my 5-year-old daughter really needed to use the toilet and her aunty had said, ‘Watch out for the snake, there is usually one hanging around here.'”
Dolly said she didn’t take the warning too seriously and continued to the lavatory with her daughter. There was no snake.
The next day, before driving home to Sydney, the family stopped by the cemetery to say goodbye to their loved ones. “My husband, Michael, needed to use the toilet before our long drive home so he parked near the toilet and ran in,” Dolly said. “Within two seconds, he bolted back out the door as white as a ghost, running to the car yelling, ‘There’s a snake.'”
Michael said that, as he went to lift the lid he spotted the reptile coiling its way around the seat. “He was in shock,” Dolly said. “I made him go back and get a photo. He was hesitant but snapped to from the door and ran back to the car…. We are not snake people.”
The reptile was an eastern brown snake, a highly venomous species responsible for more snakebite fatalities than any other snake in Australia. Eastern brown snakes have the second-most toxic venom in the world, according to the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit. It contains a potent neurotoxin that shuts down a victim’s heart, diaphragm and lungs, causing the person to suffocate.
The species is found throughout eastern and southern Australia—hence its name. Its natural habitat also overlaps with some of the country’s most populated areas, so it is not uncommon to find them in people’s homes and, in this case, public toilets.
It is not unusual for snakes to find their way into toilets. They see them as a valuable water source and a potential source of amphibious snacks.
Dolly and Michael sent photos of the snake to Michael’s mother, Allison Smith, who was also headed toward the cemetery. To warn others, Smith shared the photo to the Facebook group Cootamundra Matters, in a post that has received hundreds of likes and comments.
“A thing of nightmares, snake in the toilet,” commented one user.
“Yikes, suddenly the urge to go went away. LOL,” commented another.
If you find a snake on your property and are unsure if it is venomous, the safest thing to do is to call your local snake catcher, as most bites occur when snakes feel harassed or handled.