Snakes in unexpected places can startle anyone. For Bruce Ahlswede the unexpected place was a San Antonio Starbucks bathroom, where he had stopped on Tuesday after a business presentation.
He froze for a moment thinking the snake, lying across the toilet, was a toy left by a prankster.
Then it started to move. He backed out of the room and found a store employee.
"I said 'Hey you've got a snake in your bathroom and she's kind of freaking out,' " Ahlswede told CNN affiliate KSAT. Bruce, his wife and store employees all crowded into the bathroom and watched as the snake, perhaps just as surprised as the rest, slithered around the toilet bowl and disappeared, the station reported. Ahlswede's wife, Michele, managed to snap a photo. She promptly posted it to Facebook.
"It had to have crawled up the pipes," Michele wrote on her page. "I have heard of it happening but have never seen it in person. Its a python guess he like coffee also."
KSAT consulted a snake expert who told them it was likely a non-poisonous rat snake. A website for the University of Austin Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center describes rat snakes as similar-looking to pythons that have reached 7 feet in length. The site says the snakes pose no threat to humans.
"A lot of people were really freaked out and some said 'thanks a lot," Michelle Ahlswede told KSAT.
KSAT reports the South Texas Herpetology Association responded to the store at Starbuck's request. Starbucks issued a statement to KSAT confirming the store is safe, even though store employees tell the Ahlswede's the snake wasn't caught.
The couple says despite the encounter they plan on remaining Starbuck's customers.
Michele Ahlswede also says she'll be double-checking every toilet from now on.