A Texas man investigating a loud "clunk" coming from his chimney on Sunday was horrified to find a 6-foot snake staring back at him from behind the glass.
Gary Antley, of Lufkin, found the serpent around 2:38 a.m. — just as he was about to head to bed. Antley grabbed a pair of tongs to remove the snake, identified as a non-venomous rat snake, from his home.
"I go from mild mannered just passing through, I pass up the panic stage and I go clean to, 'Oh God what do I do!?'" Antley described his thought process to KETK-TV.
Antley filmed his daring snake removal mission, pointing a camera toward the fireplace where he cautiously opened the sliding glass doors. Keeping a safe distance, Antley used the tongs to grab the snake's neck and pull the reptile out of the soot.
"I just gritted my teeth and I went for it, went in there and grabbed him by the neck," Antley told the news station. "Well nothing too bad happened and then he got tangled up in the fire curtain."
A daring Antley then used his hand to free the snake's body from the curtain and successfully pull it out of the fireplace. Afterward, he dropped it into a bucket and closed the lid.
"I may not sleep for a week now," Antley admitted on Facebook, sharing a minute-long video of his snake encounter. Thousands of people watched the video and dozens left comments for the Texas man.
"Aw, such a cute little tiny snake! I live in Florida. We have pythons! Those get BIG! Want to come and visit?" one Floridian asked.
"Umm, I'm Never coming over again. Geez!" a friend joked.
"Aw, it's just a rat snake. He won't hurt anybody," another added.
"Tell that to the family of chimney sweeps in his belly. He did me a service and for that I am grateful. I will relocate him here in a bit," Antley replied.
Antley safely released the snake back into the wilderness a few miles away from his home.
The Texas rat snake is a non-venomous reptile that's commonly found in North Texas. The largest rat snake ever recorded in the area was 7.2 feet long, according to the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center.
"Texas rat snakes are excellent climbers and there have been occasional reports of Texas rat snakes climbing the sides of brick walls on buildings," the center explains on its website. "This can be the result of the snake detecting the presence of rodents, which often seek shelter in attics."