Deadly Cobra Found Underneath Towel Outside Couple's Bathroom

Imagine lifting a towel outside your bathroom door, only to find the deadliest cobra in Africa curled up underneath. That is exactly what snake catcher Steve Meighan, of Deep South Reptile Rescue, saw when he was called out to a residence in Simon's Town, South Africa.

"The snake was laying on the cool floor and didn't get upset about me," Meighan told Newsweek. "It's important to stay calm and use slow, deliberate movements with a snake. They will react to how you react to them so if I panic, the snake will panic."

Cape cobra in front hall
Photo of the Cape cobra in the front hall before it slithered underneath the bathroom door. Deep South Reptile Rescue/Facebook

The snake had entered the house by slithering under the front door and was in the hallway when the homeowner first saw it. To escape, the snake made a beeline for the bathroom door.

"That door was closed but it could see the gap underneath and went for that to get away," Meighan said. "The gent knew what to do from following my page: he got a heavy towel and put it along the bottom of the door so the snake couldn't come back out and quickly called me.

"I lifted the towel up carefully because it may have been under it. It was indeed under it. I lifted the snake up with my hook and backed out of the passage with it on the hook."

The snake was relatively calm and did not lash out defensively, Meighan said. After bagging it, he took the creature to a nearby greenbelt and let it go in a "good spot."

Cape Cobra
Close-up photo of a Cape Cobra, the most venomous cobra species in Africa. Deep South Reptile Rescue/Steve Meighan

Together with the infamous black mamba, the Cape cobra is one of the deadliest snakes in South Africa and is the most venomous cobra species on the continent. "They have a potent neurotoxic venom that shuts down the nervous system and, if untreated, causes death," Meighan said. "Bite symptoms include drooping of the eyelids, dizziness and slurred speech, abdominal cramps and vomiting, which leads to respiratory failure and, if untreated, death."

Steve Meighan with a Cape cobra
Photo of Steve Meighan holding a Cape Cobra. Deep South Reptile Rescue/Steve Meighan

However, Meighan also said that the majority of these fatalities occur when people try to kill them. "Unfortunately, if a snake feels threatened it will have no choice but to defend itself and bite," he said. "The snakes are often found in and around human settlements because of access to food such as rodents that come in for our rubbish and food items. This creates a high volume of conflicts between people and snakes."

Meighan believes that this particular snake had come inside to cool down. "On a sunny day, the ground gets extremely hot, well over fatal temperatures for snakes," he said. "On these days, snakes will come into buildings to escape the heat and cool down. A simple screen or board can reduce the chances of this in areas that have high numbers of snakes."

Meighan said that, if you ever encounter a snake inside your home, you should follow these simple rules: "Keep 2 meters [6.5 feet] or more away from the snake. Get any pets or other people away from it. Do not try to catch or kill the snake. It is not worth a bad bite. Call a professional snake handler to come and relocate the animal safely."

Do you have an animal or nature story to share with Newsweek? Do you have a question about snakes? Let us know via