MUM Louise Perry has told of her shock at finding a 5ft snake in a cupboard under the stairs.
The petrified 49-year-old opened the door to find the black rat snake slithering away from the light.
Miss Perry, from Drayton Road, in North End, Portsmouth, said: ‘I saw a bit of a snake slide away. I screamed “I’ve got a snake in the house”.
‘I shut the door. I just freaked out completely. I was shaking.’
Miss Perry slammed the door shut and a worker from Virgin Media, who was at the house at the time, called the police who alerted the RSPCA to the incident.
The animal rescue charity then called for back-up to help deal with the creature.
Miss Perry said: ‘She had a look in the cupboard and saw it.
‘She was a bit scared herself. She got her colleague out as well. He was a bit of an expert with snakes. It took a good couple of hours.
‘I’ve never come into contact with a snake like that.
‘It’s a bit different when there’s one in your house.
‘We had a ferret from next door in the garden recently as well.’
The black rat snake – which has a vibrating tail – is most commonly found in the USA. Its bite can be painful and the snake’s saliva can contain bacteria which can cause infection.
The snake preys on mice, rats, squirrels and birds, as well as bird eggs, and can live up to 21 years.
Miss Perry has no idea how it got into her home.
It is now being cared for at the RSPCA’s Stubbington Ark animal shelter in Ranvilles Lane, Stubbington.
Mike Ward, manager of the Ark, said: ‘It’s an exotic species which is fairly common to be kept as a pet.
‘It is not venomous and seems fairly healthy.
‘We are looking after it for now but if no-one comes forward to claim it we will pass it on to a reptile rescue company who can make sure it finds a new home with people who know how to keep snakes in the right type of equipment and the right type of environment.’