A slithery visitor surprised Statesboro Goodwill Store employees Thursday as it lounged around in a tote in the back room.
Bulloch County 911 operators dispatched a call to animal control officers regarding a “python” in the store, but Bulloch County Humane Enforcement Officer Trey Seamons confirmed that the offending serpent was a rat snake, Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said.
Tammie Blaha, the vice president of community affairs for Goodwill Industries, said employees spotted the snake in a plastic tote in the store’s “back production area.” The snake was not in an area frequented by customers, she said.
The 4-foot-long rat snake was nonvenomous, but it did bite two employees who tried to relocate it, she said.
In spite of the bite, one employee “managed to hang on” and deposited the snake outside, where Seamons caught it for relocation to a less-populated area. He suggested the employees seek medical attention despite the snake being nonvenomous, but Blaha said the employees declined medical attention, as the bites were not that severe.
Blaha said it is unknown how the snake got inside the store. It is possible it came in along with items donated, but the store is “also close to some fields” and it could have entered on its own.
According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia’s website, adult rat snakes are usually between 3 and 5 feet long and are found throughout every Southeastern state and most of the East and Midwest as far north as southern New England and southern Michigan. They “occupy a wide variety of habitats including rocky timbered hills, hardwood forests, river floodplains and swamp margins … commonly found in abandoned buildings and barns and are often the most common large snake in suburban areas.”
They mainly eat mice, rats, squirrels, birds, eggs, small frogs, lizards and small rodents.
“Rat snakes are constrictors, and adept climbers that can scale brick walls as well as tree trunks. When frightened they often assume a ‘kinked’ posture and remain motionless. They will vibrate the tail and expel malodorous musk,” according to the website.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.