Denton Teacher Finds Snake Riding Shotgun in SUV

Philana Williams’s Mitsubishi SUV sat parked in front of the Denton Record Chronicle offices Thursday afternoon, and she said that is where it will stay until the unwelcomed visitor inside is definitely out.

On Tuesday night, Williams was visiting a friend in the downtown Denton area and parked her car along East Hickory Street, but that’s when she found out what else was inside.

"When I opened the passenger door to get something out, I saw the snake sitting right on the flood board,” said Williams.

To make matters even scarier, her 1.5 year-old daughter was in the backseat, so Philana quickly grabbed her from her car seat, and locked the vehicle, then rushed to the police station for help.

Animal Control Officer Humberto Vega arrived and said he began searching the car for about an hour before finding the about 2.5 foot rat snake inside, possibly after it had been in the vehicle for days.

Record Chronicle Reporter Ali West recorded on her cell phone as Vega tried for another hour or so to get the very angry-looking snake out of the vehicle, but to no avail as it eventually shed its skin and got away.

"From my perspective, it looks like it got into the frame of the vehicle,” said Vega.

Vega said snakes often get into cars this time of year looking for a cool place to rest, especially after big meals when they are preparing to shed their skin. They can be found hiding in wheel wells or, as was likely in this case, crawling inside through the engine area.

Unfortunately, he said preventing that from happening is tough, as snakes will seek out those cool resting places out of the sun.

Caitlyn Jones with the Denton Record Chronicle compiled this list of tips from snake experts to at least make your car a less attractive spot for them.


  • Be a Hero: If you don’t know anything about snakes, don’t try to grab one yourself. Getting bitten opens up a whole other set of problems.
  • Start Your Car: The snake could be near a fan or belt in the car, so starting the engine could mean slinging snake guts everywhere. No one wants that as an air freshener.
  • Park Near Tall Grass: Overgrown weeds are a hotspot for snakes and they may decide to wrap themselves up in your nearby vehicle.


  • Clean Your Car: Like any wild animal, snakes just want something to eat. If you have crumbs all over your car, they may stop by for a snack.
  • Keep Doors Closed: Granted, reptiles are crafty creatures that can get themselves into tight spaces, but the less entry points they have, the better.
  • Call Animal Services: These people are professionals with the equipment necessary to remove and relocate the snake. Dial 911 and an officer should be out to help you shortly.

In Williams’s case, the snake could have found its way out of the vehicle by now, but she can’t be sure, and evidence of that did not look good Thursday.

Returning for the vehicle for the first time in days, she allowed NBC 5 and some of her friends to take a look inside where fragments of snake skin and evidence of the creature were visible from the back hatch area to the front seat.

Williams said until she can be sure the snake is gone, “it can have the car.”

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