Man is Horrified to Find a Ladder Snake Inside a Bag of Broccoli He Purchased from an Aldi

Neville Linton, 63, was conducting a routine grocery run on a routine day. But in a package of broccoli, he unearthed a “frightening” discovery.

He had gone to an Aldi in the West Midlands of England to buy food as usual. But a few days later, when preparing the food, he unzipped the bag and saw a snake curled up within the vegetable.

It is an ophidiophobic’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, Linton was terrified of snakes.

Screenshot of Tweet from DTN news about man who found lader snake in broccoli at Aldi

A Sneaky Snake Rattles Grocery Shopper

Relatives ran in and grabbed the snake away from Linton, who works in industrial cleaning, saving him.

A grandfather admitted, “It was pretty frightening. I’m not good with snakes. It’s lucky I didn’t just leave the broccoli out in the kitchen, or it would have been loose in the house. That would have been a huge risk for us because we have two vulnerable people living here.”

He called his sister Ann-Marie Tenkanemin, age 57, who immediately identified the creature as a snake after he discovered it. The two captured the lizard and carried it back to Aldi in a plastic container.

“I thought she was joking at first,” said Linton about Tenkanemin’s identifying the snake, “but I backed off when I saw it start moving. The guy in the shop was pretty frightened, too.”

Linton believes that although he had gotten some compensation, more should have been given because the snake threatened his family’s weaker members, particularly his disabled son and his mother-in-law.

It’s just not good enough — the implications for us if it had [gotten] out in the house are huge,” he said. “Plus, I’m phobic of snakes, so there’s the emotional impact of that, too.”

A spokesperson commented, saying, “Our supplier has never had a complaint of this nature and has robust processes in place to prevent such issues occurring. We are investigating this isolated incident and have apologized to Mr. Linton that our usual high standards were not met.”

Broccoli found at Aldi with lader snake in it

What Kind of Snake Was It?

Donovan Linton, Linton’s 41-year-old son, reported that a Dudley Zoo expert identified the animal as a juvenile ladder snake. They may administer a terrible bite and have a frightening appearance, yet they are not venomous. In common locations in Europe are Spain, Portugal, and portions of Italy and France.

They like cool, low-shade environments including hedges, woodlands, vineyards, rodent burrows, hollow trees, orchards, and boulders. The nature of ladder snakes is typically solitary, combative, and defensive. They repel assailants by flashing their razor-sharp fangs and emitting an offensive stench.

Despite being carnivores, they avoid pursuing people. Instead, they eat insects, birds, spiders, lizards, and rodents like mice and rabbits. The lizard that invaded broccoli is now a resident of the Dudley Zoo.

However, herpetologist Dr. Steven J. R. Allain identifies it as a viperine water snake, which is fortunately less dangerous. “Having reviewed the [actual] photo of the snake in the broccoli, I am not sure the zoo identified the species correctly,” Allain said. “To my expert eyes, the snake is in fact a viperine water snake (Natrix maura), which is a harmless fish-eating species found throughout southwestern Europe and northern Africa.”

He theorizes how it could have slithered its way into a broccoli. “Seeing as a large portion of the food grown and imported into the United Kingdom comes from the Mediterranean region, it is no surprise to find a species from this area turning up in some vegetables likely grown there. In my opinion, the snake was likely moving through the field at the time, before being scooped up by agricultural equipment, then seeking refuge within the broccoli.”

Not as Scary as They Look

“Viperine water snakes are dangerous only if you’re a fish (or a frog). They do not bite humans as a defense mechanism (they’d much rather play dead), and they are regarded as non-venomous to humans.”

These snakes may even endure for weeks or even months without eating, especially in frigid environments like a refrigerator where their metabolism would be slowed. The snake in question wouldn’t have preferred to leave the Mediterranean warmth for a cooler, crisper drawer, though.

Regardless of the reptile’s species, Allain wants to raise awareness of it among the general population. If people had greater knowledge about these sensitive and misunderstood creatures, perhaps they would be less fearful.