Gaye Hurst photo
Gaye Hurst opened a package containing a generator and found two snakes inside, too.

Gaye Hurst didn't have to get on a plane — the snakes found her.

The Roy woman is ophidiophobic by her own admission. She hates the scaly, slithering things.

There was the time around Halloween when she saw a python in a haunted house, and employees had to shut down the operation and turn on the lights just to get her outside.

And then there was the time — on Wednesday — that she opened her mailbox.

"I called 911 and told them not to bother with the police," Hurst said. "I told them to send the National Guard."

Inside a package containing an oxygen generator, what Hurst thought were hoses turned out to be a snake.

"There was a lot of bubble packing around it, and I was pulling out the strips and rolling them up," Hurst said. "I told my husband to leave those hoses down in the bottom of the box. He told me to go outside, and I jumped on the kitchen counter."

As Hurst waited for animal control officers and wildlife resource officials to arrive, her husband found a second snake inside the oxygen generator.

Hurst ordered the machine from a company in Indiana, where recent flooding has forced wildlife — snakes included — to find refuge elsewhere.

"There's a farm near their warehouse, and they said the farmer has had trouble with snakes before," Hurst said.

Upon seeing photographs of the snakes, an Indiana biologist said he believed they were black rat snakes, a nonvenomous species common to the area, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Hadley.

The snakes were taken to the DWR's office in Weber County, but they were expected to be transported to Salt Lake so officials could positively identify the species.

"Then, if it's legal to have the snakes in Utah, we're going to find someone who wants them as a pet," Hadley said. "If not we'll try to find these snakes a home outside of the state, possibly in Indiana. We want to keep the snakes alive."

Hurst said the company has agreed to send her a new machine.


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