Emergency Snake Service

Drain cleaner finds more than he bargained for in Staten Island toilet
Emergency Snake Service

Ken Rosenthal has pulled a lot of obstructions from toilets and drain lines in his day, but none of his previous experience could fully prepare him for the emergency call he received in March.

Rosenthal, owner of Response Service Group and 1-800-CLOGGED, got the call around 7 a.m. from the manager of an apartment complex. He has been providing service to the 77-unit complex since 1995.

“So she calls and says, ‘We need you down here,’” Rosenthal recounts. “I said, ‘What is it now?’ She told me they had a snake in a toilet, so I’m thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”

Rosenthal had never dealt with a snake in a toilet, but drove over to the apartment complex and made contact with the resident whose bathroom was under siege. After a brief rundown on the situation, he went to work.

“I opened the door to the bathroom and sure enough I see the back end – about 12 inches of the snake – sticking out of the flush rim of the toilet bowl,” Rosenthal says. “So now I look at the guy, and he’s a big guy. He looked like Rick Ross, the rapper. I said to him, ‘You’re scared of that little snake?’ And he says, ‘You’re just seeing the tail end of him, and he’s nasty.’”

During the resident’s initial attempt to remove the unwanted guest with a broom, the snake lunged and bit the handle of the broom. At that point the resident said he knew the snake was for real.

“At this point I had a finger grabber, so I grabbed the end of it and I’m pulling and I’m pulling, and he ain’t coming out, so I start pulling a little harder and he starts coming out inch by inch by inch. Well, I got about two feet of him out and I’m like ‘When the hell is this snake going to end?’ Then two and a half feet, and it keeps coming.

“So now I’m thinking, ‘You know what, I don’t know long this thing is and if it’s longer than the tool its going to turn back and bite my hand.’ So I go to re-grip him and he slithers out; he falls in the toilet and the tool I had wraps up in the toilet paper, and it’s one of those rolls that just lets a ton of toilet paper come out on the floor, so the toilet paper’s all over the place. Now I’m trying to grab him, I can’t see him, and finally I grabbed him and dropped him into a cooler.”

The 4-foot California king snake, a non-poisonous variety, was likely a pet that escaped from another apartment, although no one claimed it. Once it was secure in the cooler, it was taken to an animal rescue center in Manhattan. The snake’s reign on the throne ended abruptly, and the attention quickly turned to Rosenthal, who was featured on Inside Edition and the front page of the Staten Island Advance as well as local television, radio and other media outlets. CNN even picked up the story.

“I’ve never had to deal with anything like that before,” Rosenthal says of the snake. “It was pretty exciting, an adrenaline rush let me tell you.

“The only thing that came close was an iguana my niece had that got into a hot air vent about 8 inches off the floor,” he said. “The iguana was loose, she used to let it loose in her room, and it went inside the duct and was missing for a while.”

Rosenthal ran his inspection camera into the ductwork and located the reptile at the rear of the house crouched down in the corner.

“We got that one out, too.”


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