Workers at a Sonic location in Georgia fled the restaurant earlier this month when they found something unexpected in the back of a deep fryer—and it wasn’t the remains of some old tots.
The Brunswick Daily News reported that the entire staff had been frightened by a snake. He left the store and called the police, describing what he thought was a rattler, one of the venomous snakes that called Georgia home.
Lieutenant Matthew Wilson of the Brunswick Police Department told the newspaper that it was actually a 3.5-foot-long ball python, a non-venomous constrictor snake.
“I grabbed it by the handle of a broom,” Wilson told the Daily News. “I just found one where I can secure his head. Then I put it in a paper bag and took it out.”
Wilson said he suspects the restaurant left its back door open and that the snake slipped in for the same reason the customer: it was hungry and thirsty.
Wilson, who has a ball python of his own, says that Sonic the snake has a new home with a snake-loving friend.
Amon Leonard, an invasive species biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told The Associated Press snakes are often an impulse buy that some buyers later regret.
“It wasn’t about the consequences of having a large snake as a pet,” Leonard told the Associated Press. “Some people regret later and just let things go. It’s definitely irresponsible.”
People who are no longer able to care for a pet snake should contact a local reptile rescue or animal shelter for advice, and should not leave them in the wild. In addition to driving out local underpaid and under-appreciated fast food workers, released snakes and other pets can lead to invasive species issues.
ZooCheck, a Canada-based wildlife advocacy group, also notes that many of those once-loved pets often meet dire luck.
“Most of these animals are stressed, physically weak and unable to survive,” Zuchek said on his website. “Most die of hunger, cold or hunting.”