Frankly, it could have been a lot worse. Wade Vielock could have been sitting on the toilet when the enormous snake slithered its way out of the porcelain throne.
Lucky for the Bee County, Tex., man, Vielock was simply cleaning his bathroom, or as a Patch writer put it, “not using it in a way that would have given the blue indigo a tactical advantage.”
But the opportune timing did not make the scenario any less terrifying.
Last weekend, Vielock’s 6-year-old son pointed out the five- to six-foot-long indigo snake poking its body about halfway out of the toilet.
“I looked back at the toilet and that snake was about 3 feet out, climbing towards the window,” Vielock told KSAT. “It took at least six years off my life.”
In a panic, Vielock ran out of the bathroom so fast he accidentally knocked down his son, he said.
Once he got his bearings, Vielock had to figure out what to do with the colossal reptile. He called his friend, a local taxidermist, and asked for advice.
The blue indigo snake, also known as the Eastern indigo snake is actually harmless, it turns out. While it is not venomous, and rarely bites people, it does on occasion use its muscular jaws to bite its prey or its enemies headfirst. The eastern indigo also happens to be the longest snake species in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. And because it is a “threatened” and protected species, this is not a snake you should handle without a permit — no matter how confident you might be.
Eventually, Vielock called the Bee County Sheriff’s Office to handle the situation.
“Snake wrangler” may or may not be in Lindsay Scotten’s job description, but in Texas, a sheriff’s deputy must always be prepared.
By the time Scotten arrived at Vielock’s ranch, the snake had made its way out of the toilet and into the bathroom vanity, according to the Bee County Sheriff’s Office. As Vielock held a flashlight over her shoulder, the deputy got down on her knees and calmly wrangled the blue indigo out of there with her bare hands.
“The snake was not harmed and was released back into the brush,” the Bee County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. The deputy is pictured posing with Vielock’s son, and smiling as she holds onto the snake at both ends.
“Good job Deputy Scotten,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
The deputy made snake-wrangling look like a breeze, but apparently she told Vielock “she can’t kill a cockroach.”
“I told her she can call me anytime she wants and I’ll come kill all the cockroaches she wants if she gets that snake out of the house,” Vielock told KSAT.
Hundreds of comments flooded the Facebook post from the sheriff’s office, praising the deputy for her bravery.
“I couldn’t ever do it!” Paula Perkins wrote.
“Definitely a better and braver woman than I will ever be,” Patty Ramey said.
“I would be that guy just watching too,” wrote one observer, Keith Farrell.
“Poor guy is never going to hear the end of this,” said another.
Irene Howe wondered if the deputy knew initially what kind of snake she would be dealing with. For all we know, she may have entered that bathroom prepared to tackle a creature packed with venom.
“Now that is Texas Tough,” Howe wrote.
Some local commentators said indigo snakes are a welcome presence in their homes. Not only are they generally harmless to humans, indigos prey on venomous snakes.
“Love those snakes,” Donna Thane wrote, “wish they would turn them loose in my yard.”
“Beautiful snake, I have a six footer around my house,” Joe Garza said. “Haven’t seen a rattler around here since it moved in and around my property.”
“That’s a baby,” Joseph Richard Hammond said of the indigo pictured in Vielock’s home, “have seen them in South Texas as big as drill pipe.”
According to the Bee County Sheriff’s Office, there has been a spike in snake calls this year, due to weather.
“Residents are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
So perhaps next time you use the restroom in Texas, take a careful look.