So how should one react when learning that a very large, very poisonous snake may be shacking up just outside one's front door?
Residents of an apartment complex in South Carolina have already answered that question, now that they've been made aware that the deadly Gaboon Viper may be lurking in their midst.
Folks found out after a maintenance worker at the Harbor Pointe Apartments in Mount Pleasant, just east of Charleston, found a shed snake skin on the complex's grounds.
Management made a few calls and learned from an exterminator familiar with snakes that the skin looked very much like that of the Gaboon Viper, according to WCBD-TV in Charleston, S.C.
So management notified residents, warned them to take proper precautions, and tacked up the skin in the main office for good measure.
Farrah Reid said reading the fliers around the complex has forced her to think twice when walking her dogs.
“And I read it and I was like, 'Oh my God!'" she told WCBD-TV. "I close bars and I get home like around 11 or 12-o’clock at night and I have to take them out.”
Gaboon Vipers, native to Africa, can grow up to six feet in length and are recognized by the very distinct rectangular patterns down its back. This particular snake, experts said, looks between three and four feet long.
"This is nothing to play with," Raymond Covington told WCBD in a separate story. "They need to get a group out to look for this thing."
Covington, who runs a nuisance wildlife company that specializes in removing animals such as snakes and alligators, said he was shocked when he heard about the possible viper and figures someone kept it as a pet and let it go.
"It could have got out from a ship [at the Port]," he told WCBD. "I am more thinking it was a homeowner that said it's too big. They can't handle it [any] more and released it."
The Gaboon Viper is known for ambushing its victims. A snake handler said it can simply sit for days in the same spot, waiting for its prey, often in warm places such as under leaves.
"It doesn't even have to move," LeJohn Robeson told WCBD. "It will be totally still, and it will strike. Just like that."
Robeson added that the skin appears genuine and looks like a Gaboon Viper's.
Featured image via YouTube
This story has been updated.