September 15, 2017
Imagine you’re the type of person who despises snakes with an Indiana Jones-level of hatred.
Imagine that you head to your local big-box retailer to buy – among other things – a 12-roll bundle of toilet paper.
Imagine that you return to a house where a two-year-old granddaughter is napping and an older dog named Luke and a young cat named Maxwell are just chilling upstairs.
Finally, imagine that when you get that toilet-paper bundle inside, a live, black, two-foot long snake slithers its way out of the packaging.
You’d freak out, right? Well, that’s exactly what Lisa Gallo did earlier this week in Marlton, N.J.
At around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Gallo returned home from the Walmart location on Route 70. She unloaded her purchases but left the bag holding the toilet paper in the foyer near the front door.
About an hour later, she returned to that part of the house and "saw something black in the foyer. I thought it was just the bottom of the door, the rubber part, but it was longer than that."
"So, I walked closer and the freakin' thing moved. 'Oh my God! It's a snake!' I yelled," she recalled. "I never had a snake in the house before but this thing was just sitting there. When I reached over to open the door, it stuck its tongue out. It hissed at me!"
Considering her options, she called her husband, who suggested calling animal control. There was no time for that, though.
She found a broom and tried to push it out with the pointy end, but had no luck.
"I got that big broom and shoved the thing twice," she said. "It slithered out the door and it was gone after that."
Her son Mark shared his take on an incident that rousted a young girl from sleep and left a dog barking frantically from afar.
“I got a text message first: ‘2 foot long snake in the house. I kicked its ass out of here. What the hell’s going on? There was a snake in the house!’” he said of the message he received while golfing. “My mom’s so afraid of snakes. There are no words to describe it. She used a broom stick to get it out.
“I called her afterwards and she was just in a frenzy."
“It was so freaky! I hate snakes!” – Lisa Gallo
For her part, Lisa Gallo steadfastly maintains the snake came from inside the toilet-paper packaging, which she'd opened up to grab a couple of rolls minutes before the discovery.
"I don't know how, I don't know where, but that's my story. That little sucker came in with the toilet paper," she said. "I looked online trying to find New Jersey snakes that it looked like and didn't find anything."
Luckily, no humans, pets or snakes were hurt in the process.
Charles Krowson, a spokesman for Walmart, referred questions about the alleged incident to the Angel Soft folks at parent company Georgia-Pacific.
“We’re not passing the buck at all, but when those products come into the store, they’re vacuum-sealed and boxed,” he said. “We’ve had snakes show up at our garden centers, in fresh produce (deliveries). When you have 5,000 stores nationwide, you’ll see all sorts of things.”
Karen Cole, senior communications for Georgia-Pacific, told PhillyVoice she hadn’t heard anything about the story prior to our Friday morning call.
“It’s definitely unusual. We’d love to look into it, so we’d obviously want to talk to them,” she said. “I’m glad everybody’s OK. With anything related to our products, we want to make sure our customers feel good about the purchases. We pride ourselves on being responsive.”
Mark Gallo initially reached out to Charmin on Twitter, later learning that they were not involved. (Still, a spokeswoman for Charmin’s Procter & Gamble parent company noted, “The incident described in the tweet is definitely not something we would expect.”)
Unfortunately, Lisa Gallo didn’t have a chance to get pictures of the snake.
“She was panicking. She was more concerned about getting it out of the house before someone got bit,” her son explained, noting that a call to Walmart resulted in an offer for a $10 refund on which he didn’t take them up.
In any event, nobody got hurt, the snake is no longer in the Gallo home and things are returning to normal for the involved parties.
This tale offers the perfect opportunity to share tips on what to do should YOU find your toilet-paper purchase result in an unwanted reptilian visit.
Though Marlton isn't within their coverage area, Ame Dorminy of the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia offered some tips:
Snakes are wild animals and can be dangerous, so I would recommend leaving the snake alone and immediately calling animal control or 911.
Be sure to state that wildlife is in your living area, as opposed to your roof or garage.
ACCT Philly will respond to calls for assistance if wildlife is in a person's living area, such as a bathroom or bedroom, but cannot send out an animal control officer if the animal is in a roof, etc. That would require the services of a wildlife control company.
911 centers can direct callers to their local animal control agency.