When Jerel Heywood paid a visit to his long-time friend Rodney Copeland last Sunday he was hardly expecting that he'd wind up in hospital. Heywood ambled up to the porch of Copeland's home in Lawton, Oklahoma and casually pulled back the screen door, like he had no doubt done many times before, only on this day he was greeted with a snake bite to the eyebrow.

The entire episode was captured by a doorbell camera and shows Heywood quickly recoiling in pain following the bite before screaming for someone to take him to hospital.

Copeland and his wife rushed Heywood to the nearest medical centre where he received immediate treatment. "I was in shock," Copeland told CNN. "That could've been anyone of us."

Luckily for Heywood, the snake was not venomous and after a quick checkup and a prescription for antibiotics, he was on his way.

The snake, however, was not so lucky. After hearing the commotion, a neighbour rushed over wielding a hammer and – concerned for the community's safety – pummelled the snake to death.

While this is the first time that Copeland has encountered a snake in his house, Oklahoma is home to a healthy diversity of snake species and it's not entirely uncommon for them to occasionally seek shelter and food in residential areas.

The face-biter in question was more than likely a rat snake – a species of constrictor popular in the pet trade.

Rat snakes rarely attack, preferring to stay motionless or slither away, but if they feel threatened enough, they will strike. They are also known to emit a foul-smelling odour as a deterrent against any would-be predators. They are excellent climbers and can easily scale tree trunks or even vertical brick walls.

So what should you do if you encounter an unwanted visitor in your home or garden? We'd recommend against calling a hammer-swinging neighbour. Instead, get in touch with a local snake catcher who will be able to safely remove the reptile from your property. It also can't hurt to familiarise yourself with the snake species in your area so you know what you are dealing with.

While they get a bad rap, snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent and frog populations. Some species can be deadly, but the majority are nonvenomous and can be an asset to have around.

Heywood is expected to make a full recovery, the snake, not so much.

Top header image: ShowPaul, Flickr