One Pretoria mom got much more than she bargained for during a recent trip to the North West, when a Mozambique spitting cobra unexpectedly reared its head from a toilet her daughter was using.
The incident happened at about 20.30 on Tuesday, March 19.
"It was very scary, something that only ever happens in movies," Juliette Roos told News24.
Roos her husband Johan and two children weren't camping far from the Nyati Sportschool, where her son participated in a rugby tournament.
The school is situated roughly 40 km outside Brits.
Roos says her 5-year old daughter had just finished using the toilet when she first spotted the snake.
"It's head was protruding from the bowl."
A friend of her daughter was also in the cubicle. She didn't want to alarm or traumatise the little girls and asked them to turn around and called her husband.
"I went ice cold," said Roos, who was able to keep her daughter calm.
"I definitely did not expect to find a snake in the toilet," Johan told News24. He said he thought he would encounter a spider in the bathroom.
"When my wife told me there's a snake I didn't believe her at first."
Then the snake reared its head again and it sent shivers down his spine.
Johan said he phoned a friend who is knowledgeable about snakes and the friend confirmed that it was a cobra.
Johan tried removing it from the toilet bowl but gave up after realising he didn't have the right equipment for the job.
"We decided to leave the snake in peace."
No one was injured during the incident.
"I think my daughter was very lucky to have escaped unscathed," Johan said.
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Durban-based snake expert Byron Zimmerman told News24 that the toilet snake was indeed a Mozambique spitting cobra.
"How it got in there is anyone's guess but I suspect through the top. It is unlikely it came through the pipe," he said.
He added that Mozambique spitting cobras eat toads so "it makes sense that it was near the plumbing".
These snakes are highly venomous. Their venom is cytotoxic, causing massive swelling and loss of tissue, Zimmerman said.
"It's probably the most common venomous species through the eastern side of South Africa."
It's best to leave these snakes alone, he added.
"They spit their venom as well, so eye protection is advised if dealing with them."
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Roos estimates the snake had to be at least 2 metres in length.
"But it's hard to say as we never even saw its tail," she said.
The couple told News24 they locked the door to the cubicle in question and alerted management at the resort to the slithery intruder.
"We used a different cubicle after that," Roos said adding that in future, while camping, she’ll definitely look twice before sitting down to use the toilet.