UPDATE 7 December, 2016: It took some time, but the now-infamous Pretoria "toilet snake" has finally been removed from its apartment abode! "It was a huge relief to the people," local conservationist Hencke Marais told News24 after capturing the venomous snouted cobra, which was first spotted hiding out in a toilet in the apartment block on November 24. The male snake measured in at 1.87 metres (6 feet) and will be released into a wildlife reserve just outside of Pretoria. Local resident Tilana Scheepers uploaded footage of the removal to Facebook:

Things you really don't want to find in your toilet: cobras.

It's tough to sleep when you know a snouted cobra is slithering its way around your building's drainage system, so we can understand why the residents of this apartment block in Pretoria, South Africa, had a sleepless night recently. The reptile first surfaced in the toilet of one apartment yesterday morning, but despite the efforts of a local snake catcher, the cobra proved difficult to evict.  

"The snake handler tried to remove the 2.5-metre-long snake from a toilet, but it got agitated and fought back. The handler eventually lost his grip on the snake, and [it] got back into the sewage pipe. We still have no idea where the snake is hiding," wrote resident Anton Meijer when uploading the video to YouTube yesterday.

Snouted cobras are found across southern Africa, and they possess a potent neurotoxic venom. But when they're not slithering into apartment toilets, they generally prefer to hang out in the local bushveld, hunting toads, rodents, birds and even other snakes. Although the species is large, snake catcher Barry Greenshields was surprised by the size of this individual. "I do snake removals all over Pretoria East, but this is one of the most bizarre ones that I have come across. It's big and strong. It's by far the biggest I have seen," Greenshields told local media outlet News24.

From frogs and spiders to alligators, tales of wildlife in the sewers are common, but when it comes to unwanted visitors in your domestic plumbing, snakes and rats seem to be the more common culprits. "All over the world rats go down in sewers and the snakes go in there after them," Australian snake catcher Geoff Jacobs told the BBC earlier this year. "There's only a small amount of water in the bottom of your toilet bowl. The [snakes] come up through a dry pipe and there's a small bit of water in the S-bend – he's only got to go down an inch-and-a-half or two inches and straight back up, so it's quite easy once they learn how to do it," Jacobs explained.

Toilet-related snake incidents are not that unusual in South Africa either. "Snakes do go up drain pipes and there have been a few cases of people going to the toilet and getting bitten – especially by Mozambique spitting cobras," says well-known local herpetologist Johan Marais.

It's likely that the Pretoria visitor had slithered its way in from a greenbelt area near the apartment building, taking shelter in the drainage pipes – and Marais believes the animal shouldn't have a problem moving along. "The snake is not stuck but hiding in the drainage system, and will easily find its way out." 


Top header image: Ryan van Huyssteen, Wikimedia Commons