Yes, you read that right. It happened in Arlington. And now every time I go to the bathroom I look in the toilet first. Terrifying.
It wasn’t on a plane, but a snake was found in another place you wouldn’t expect: a toilet. That’s exactly what happened to one Arlington County resident, and it wasn’t your average snake, it was an anaconda.
The snake was taken to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and while most people are understandably shocked, this really isn’t that uncommon.
“We have found all kinds of fun stuff,” says Jennifer Toussaint, chief animal control officer in Arlington County. Toussaint says recently, the number of large constrictors found – like anacondas – has jumped to about 1 or 2 a month. “Completely not abnormal to find these larger constrictors in places you would not think,” says Toussaint.
On December 27th, that perfectly normal discovery was found at an apartment complex on South 31st Street in Arlington. The person went to the bathroom in their apartment and found a yellow anaconda curled up in the toilet bowl. Animal control removed the reptile and neither the officer nor the snake were hurt.
But how did the snake get there in the first place? “Snakes self-regulate their body temperatures,” says Toussaint. “So it could be that the heat kicked on and the floor was warm so they were seeking the water source to cool off a little. They can get loose, they can make their way through people’s walls and just show up wherever there is a hole,” she says.
The snake, named Sir Hiss, is still a baby and only about 4 or 5 feet long. He was never claimed, which is very common for exotic animals, so a reptile specialist adopted him.
As for why these exotic snakes keep showing up where they’re not wanted? For one, they’re fairly easy to buy, we found several ads for anacondas online. “The internet provides a lot of resources to people to purchase whatever they want,” says Toussaint.
In Arlington County, it’s not illegal to own an exotic animal. “Currently there is no exotics code in Arlington County, so it could have been a Bengal tiger,” says Toussaint.
Toussaint says she plans to propose such regulations to the Arlington County Board. Until then, these stories will continue to be normal for her: “I had a woman a few years ago, she was changing the lightbulb in the ceiling and a large constrictor, a standard ball python came down out of the hole.”
Sir Hiss is safe with his new owner. If his original owner does come forward, they will not face any charges, only a potential fine for not keeping him in a proper container.
The only illegal exotic animal in Arlington County to own is a poisonous snake.