Teenager Finds Venomous Snake 'Trying to Strike' While Doing Laundry

In the latest venomous snake sighting across America, a teenager doing a load of laundry came across a copperhead snake lying in wait in her family's washing machine.

According to a report from The Springfield News-Leader, Greene County, Missouri, resident Jessica Bruner claimed that her 15-year-old daughter found the venomous snake as the teen was moving her wet clothes into the dryer last Friday.

"When she pulled a pair of shorts out, the copperhead came out of it," Bruner told the News-Leader Monday. "It was sitting on top of the clothes, trying to strike."

Newsweek spoke with Jake Whitehead of TRL Reptiles, who breeds different rat snakes, corn snakes and king snakes with his sons and was called in to remove the snake. Whitehead confirmed that a "juvenile" 18-inch copperhead snake was located inside the Bruner family washing machine last week.

"Oddly enough [Bruner] was one of our old neighbors, she did not know it was us she was contacting," Whitehead recalled. "Removal of nuisance reptiles or really any animal is a free service we provide."

Whitehead also told Newsweek that although copperheads are not uncommon in Greene County, it is not immediately clear how the snake got itself into the washing machine.

"We live in a pretty rural area so they are pretty common," he said. "Like most snakes, they are generally pretty reclusive animals. But when sharing an area with anything you're bound to come across them from time to time.

"How exactly it got in the washing machine is unknown," Whitehead added. "We assume it got in the basket then was put in the washer."

Whitehead also told Newsweek that fortunately, by the time he arrived, it showed no signs of aggression. "It was not aggressive with me. It came without any kind of fight," he said.

"I brought it back closer to our house and let it go. There weren't any signs of more in the house," he added.

Teenager finds venomous snake in washing machine
A Missouri teen was shocked to find a venomous copperhead snake sitting on top of her clean clothes as she was doing a load of laundry. Courtesy of Jake Whitehead

Bruner joked in her statement to The Springfield News-Leader that while no one was hurt in the incident, her teenage daughter is taking extra precautions around the washing machine.

"[She's] not [doing] laundry, that's for sure," she told the outlet. "She'll definitely be looking for these things before she sticks her hand into places, and we're really lucky she didn't get bit. She was quick enough to get her hand out of there before it [struck] because it was mad."

Whitehead noted that he is no stranger to the variety of local snakes in the area. "We run a custom sawmill/log home business [Whitehead Mountain log homes]. With that we've created a great environment for all local species of snake," he explained to Newsweek. "With logs and bark and sawdust everywhere there are plenty of opportunities for them to hide, find food and hibernate."

A recent report from the California Polytechnic State University claims that species like the rattlesnake could see a boom in their population amid the climate change crisis.

"Specifically, snakes will be able to emerge from overwintering earlier in the year and, in turn, wait until later months before going back into hiding," the researchers wrote.

Whitehead told Newsweek that residents of Greene County should remain alert when coming across snakes they cannot identify, especially in preparation for future heatwaves this summer.

"We just came out of the coldest winter we've had in a long time. So far [it's] been a very mild spring/summer," he said. "There is a heatwave this time every year, [it's] July. [Snakes] are cold-blooded animals so this is when they thrive and reproduce. Every animal that is of age to reproduce will reproduce every year but they only do once a year regardless of weather.

"In our area, copperheads are the main concern when talking about venomous snakes. We do have rattlesnakes and cottonmouths but much less common," Whitehead said to Newsweek. "My advice would be if there is any doubt about what kind of snake it is, [it's] best to leave it alone. A copperhead bite while very seldom deadly, is a painful experience."

Indeed, a teenage Pennsylvania reptile enthusiast can attest to the pain that comes with a copperhead snake bite. Audrey Weir was reportedly attacked in late June while watching the sunset with her friends.

"It felt like I broke my hand," she said at the time. "I've never broken a bone in my body and that's what I compare that pain to, plus with fire pain going through my hand."

In Georgia, a recent kindergarten graduate was also attacked by a rattlesnake and reportedly went into anaphylactic shock from its venom. The five-year-old was left "fighting for her life" and received over 40 rounds of anti-venom.