A venomous copperhead snake was found Tuesday morning slithering outside an auto body shop in Mineola, officials said.
The snake, about a foot in length , was seen eating a mouse outside a bay door at A2D Auto Works on Sagamore Avenue around 8 a.m., according to the shop's owner, Efrain Cruz.
Cruz and another co-worker scooped up the snake with a pair of plastic shovels and placed it into a large container.
Members of the county's SPCA, accompanied by officers from the Nassau Police Department's Emergency Services Unit and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, retrieved the snake at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The Bronx Zoo has agreed to take the snake, according to DEC spokesman Ben DeLaMater.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Cruz, 40, of Bellmore, whose shop is located in an industrial area next to the Mineola Long Island Rail Road tracks. "I was really concerned."
Nassau SPCA Det. Gary Rogers said copperhead snakes are not native to Long Island and the reptile was probably brought to the area by an individual who illegally kept it as a pet. In his 40 years with the agency, Rogers said he's never seen a copperhead loose on Long Island.
"We don't know how it got here," Rogers said, noting that garden and corn snakes are more common to the region. "But there is no reason for it to be here. . . . It's like finding a gun in the street."
The SPCA, he said, will conduct an investigation to determine the source of the snake and if others are loose in the area. Copperheads, he said, can lay several eggs at a time.
Elizabeth Dekanchuk, who lives on Shields Avenue about 200 feet behind the auto body shop, said the discovery has her concerned.
"That's pretty scary," Dekanchuk said Tuesday. "It could have been in anyone's yard, especially in the summertime when everyone is outside. . . . It's pretty wild."
Rogers said the snake found Tuesday, while a baby, is extremely dangerous. One bite, he said, could be fatal if not immediately treated.
"It would take just a couple of minutes to feel the effects," Rogers said. "It would affect the entire nervous system."
Rogers said bite victims often need to be immediately airlifted to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx — located near the Bronx Zoo and the primary regional care center for snake bites — for anti-venom treatment.
Rogers, who trains Nassau police on how to handle snakes and other exotic animals, advises anyone who sees a similar snake on their property to immediately call 911.
Copperhead snakes, which account for the largest number of snake bites in the United States every year — although their bites are rarely fatal — typically reside from the Florida panhandle, north to Massachusetts and west to Nebraska, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
Cruz is not the first Long Islander to have a close encounter with a scaly serpent.
Last year, a black racer snake was found in a residential garage in Medford. In 2016, a Glen Cove couple was stunned to discover a 4-foot California kingsnake living in a baseboard heater inches from their bed. And in 2008, a California kingsnake was found slithering in a crib — alongside a newborn — in Brentwood. The child was not harmed.
The SPCA is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone with information on the snake found in Mineola. The agency can be reached at 516-843-7722.