A Charlotte woman encountered the unexpected as she stumbled upon a ball of snakes along the route of her morning run.

Christine Proffitt is used to seeing up to five snakes during her daily exercise, but she was in for a shock on Monday (17 April).

"Everyday I see four or five snakes every time, but I've never seen 10 to 20 all balled up like that," said Proffitt. "No one's going to believe if I didn't take a picture. So, pics or it didn't happen."

Proffitt took a snap and uploaded it to Twitter, warning people to proceed with caution along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte, North Carolina. "Watch out on the greenway today guys," she posted.

While Proffitt admitted that she was "terrified" at the sight of the reptiles who had bunched together, she said: "The first thing I did was take out my phone and take a picture." After capturing the evidence on her phone, Proffitt bolted from the scene.

Reports suggest that the cluster of snakes appear to be a "mating ball". In a 2014 interview, snake researcher Andrew Durso of Utah State University told Livescience.com: "When males catch the pheromone scent of a female, they will swarm over her, forming a 'mating ball'".

Another jogger, Bryan Neil, told WBTV News that he had also spotted a snake that same morning. "Right under the tunnel is a a black snake probably about three or four feet long that scared the crap out of me," he said.

While 37 species of snakes are native to North Carolina, only six are venomous. These include the copperhead, canebreak rattlesnake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, pigmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth or water moccasin and the rarest of them all, the coral snake.