When Stephanie Lacsa saw water mysteriously rising in her public relations office's toilet Tuesday, she chalked it up to the old pipes in their 1800s-era building. She never expected her plunger to pull up a flickering tongue and diamond-shaped head.
“I thought my eyes were deceiving me,” Lacsa said. “But as soon I saw the flicker of its tongue, I definitely knew that it was in fact a large snake heading straight towards me.”
Lacsa, who is terrified of the slippery reptiles, ran screaming as a 5-foot-6-inch boa constrictor slithered from the toilet onto the bathroom floor.
She taped the door shut and called her Vertical PR co-founder, Holly Wells, who was skeptical.
“She said, ‘It’s the size of my forearm,’” Wells told NBC 7, “and I was like, ‘No, it’s the probably the size of a pencil.’”
But when Wells joined Lacsa at their downtown office and cracked open the door, she saw the evidence for herself – an ophidiophobes’ worst nightmare.
“Business was done after that. It took an hour and a half for animal control to get out,” said Wells. “We were stuck in our office with our feet up on the desk.”
Even the county animal services officer was shocked. She told the women she had never seen anything like this in her career, calling it “the stuff of urban legends.”
The officer believed the Colombian rainbow boa may have been stuck in the pipes for a few days, for it was underweight and in the process of shedding its skin.
After the sneaky reptile was taken to the Gaines Street animal care facility for examination, Wells and Lacsa were left with the biggest mystery: where did the snake come from?
“I don’t think they’re natural to the Gaslamp area,” Wells joked. There are residential tenants in their Old San Diego City Hall building, but none have reported a missing snake.
Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa said he was uncertain if a snake could survive in a sewage system for long.
DeSousa said it got “nippy” and bit its handler. If no owner comes forward by Friday, the boa will go to a local reptile group.
"The snake scared the living daylights out of us, but we truly hope he gets the care he needs and can be placed in a good home,” said Wells.
“And I also hope that the new owners of that home know to keep their toilet seat lids down."