Woman Finds Snake Slithering on Shelf of Baked Beans in Target Store

On Monday, one woman got the shock of her life while shopping at her local Target store in Apex, North Carolina.

At first, Diane Dupre thought the black rat snake resting on a shelf amongst cans of baked beans was fake and started looking around for cameras set up to record the prank.

"I thought it was a child's toy, so I thought, 'oh my goodness someone is pranking me, where's the camera this is a joke,' because it was totally still," Dupre told local news channel WRAL.

When Dupre took out her phone to take a picture of the supposedly plastic reptile, she was shocked to see it beginning to move.

"As I zoomed in, I was going to take a photo, the tongue came out and that's how I knew this is a real snake," she said.

She looked around for others in the store aisle but found no one was nearby. In Dupre's recording, she can be heard asking for "help" in a composed tone.

"I looked up and down the aisle and I was calmly freaking out," she explained. "See, he's slithering, oh my gosh I can't even look at this. I'm telling the men to hurry."

A Target spokesperson told WRAL that they got the snake out safely and released it back into the wild. They believe the snake found its way inside on a cart or by other means of transportation. They immediately disinfected the area where the snake was found and also plan to bring in a pest control company to do a thorough sweep of the store.

Originally from upstate New York, Dupre and her husband aren't used to seeing snakes this size, they told WRAL.

"I was like, 'oh my goodness this is for real, this is North Carolina and this is snake season and there is a snake on top of the baked beans here,'" she said.

Black rat snakes, also known as eastern rat snakes, are excellent swimmers and climbers, according to the National Wildlife Federation. They are large non-venomous snakes between 3.5 and 7 feet long and are most likely to be seen around buildings hunting for rodents, amphibians, and young birds.

North Carolina State Professor Gregory Lewbart assured WRAL that black rat snakes are harmless to humans. He said it's common for these snakes to end up in places like a grocery store, and they often even end up in his vet school. He said that it's possible the snake had hibernated inside the store.

"These snakes are out of hibernation, they're moving around, they're looking for food, they might be looking for mates," Lewbart said.

Dupre told WRAL that it's a trip she'll never forget.

"Pretty exciting and a story I'll be telling for years."

Black rat snake
Jim McGrath of Nature Discovery, a Michigan natural sciences education group, handles a Michigan Black Rat Snake at the 2012 Detroit River Days Festival. Paul Warner/GETTY