When you work in a building built in 1886, you can expect occasional problems with the plumbing.
But Holly Wells and Stephanie Lasca, co-founders of Vertical PR + Marketing, were not prepared for what slithered out of their office toilet Tuesday: a 5 1/2-foot Colombian rainbow boa.
"I thought my eyes were deceiving me," Lasca said. When she saw the flicker of the snake's tongue, she knew it was a snake.
She screamed and ran from the bathroom, slamming the door and calling the county Department of Animal Services.
The snake, identified as a Colombian rainbow boa, was curled up behind the toilet when an animal services employee arrived at the office in a building at 5th and G in downtown San Diego, which was once city hall.
At about 5 pounds, the snake was underweight and shedding. Also a bit grouchy. It bit a handler.
The agency took the snake to an animal care center for examination. If its owner is not located, it will be given to a group with experience with boas, said Dan DeSousa, deputy director of the Department of Animal Services.
Just how the boa survived in the sewer system is a mystery. But one thing is clear.
"This is every person's worst nightmare," Lasca said.