Last week Robert Ortiz got into his car and found an unusual passenger peeking out of the air vent: a garter snake. As he looked around his car, he noticed there was a second slithery traveler curled up in his center console by his cup holders.
It was odd, considering Ortiz had just been out in the car to start it in hopes of cooling it down before he left for a drive, and he didn't see any snakes—much like others with snake infestations. After 10 minutes had passed, he came out to a different scene.
Often snakes come out in warmer temperatures, but the AC must have ushered them out of their hiding spots.
"I came back out, opened the [car] door and there was this snake looking at me from the vent," Ortiz said to Bangor Daily News. "Then I saw the second one that was asleep."
He gently removed the snakes (garter snakes are non-venomous, so no worries there), setting them free in the woods. But once he left his driveway, driving to Brewer with his wife, Ortiz realized the pair weren't the only stowaways: There was a third snake in his car, which popped out of the dashboard vent on the passenger side—where his wife was sitting.
"I pulled off and right off she opened the door and got out," he said. "I looked over and I could see the snake head and a few inches of its body coming out of the vent."
He grabbed it, throwing it from the car. Ortiz hasn't seen any more snakes in his car since the incident. While he doesn't know how the snakes got there in the first place, he believes it's likely because he had his car parked in high grass.
There are nine common snake species in Maine, and none of them are venomous. Garter snakes are very common in the state and are small, only growing to about 48 inches.
"It was a surprise," Ortiz said to Bangor Daily News. "I've had a mouse build a nest in my car, but never seen snakes in there."