Pensioner David Atherton was horrified to find a three foot snake slithering inside his oven as he prepared to cook his pie and chips.
The 65-year-old retired pensioner from Halliwell, near Bolton, Greater Manchester was preparing to put his meal into the oven when he spotted the black-and-white California kingsnake hiding inside.
Atherton picked up the snake and placed it into a plastic food recycling box before calling the police.
RSPCA officers collected the snake the same evening and it has been temporarily housed with a local conservationist.
Fear of snakes
Atherton said that his 73-year-old sister Margaret, who has ophidiophobia – morbid fear of snakes – was so distressed by the incident she had to be taken to a local hospital.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "Her phobia is so bad she cannot even look at a snake on TV, let alone see one in real life.
"I would not like to hazard a guess as to what would have happened if she had been the one to open the oven and see it. It could have been much worse."
He added: "When I pulled down the oven door I saw the snake hanging down from the side and at first I thought it was part of a food packet, but then I realised what it was.
"There is a small gap between the oven and the fitted cupboards, which must be what it came through.
"You could not make it up and I must confess it is not something that happens every day."
Experts said the non-venomous California kingsnakes can grow up to 6ft in length and are commonly kept as pets, the Daily Mail reported.
RSPCA inspector Melissa Furey said the organisation commonly see a big influx of snakes coming out in April, as the weather gets warmer.
"It is the time of year when they come out basking in the sun," she said. "This is the second escaped snake in just over a week which has made an appearance in Greater Manchester.
"Pet owners need to be responsible and make sure they have the correct equipment – vivariums with locks – because snakes are really good escape artists and can slip through the smallest of gaps."