Paul Kiolbasa, thinking someone had left a towel on his back-yard deck, reached down in the pre-dawn twilight and found something very different.
"I was pretty shocked to see this big snake looking up at me," he said Wednesday from his Stillwater home on River Heights Drive. "I knew this wasn't a Minnesota snake."
And so began the saga of a 5-foot boa constrictor, an apparent escapee from a nearby residence, that involved police, gawking neighbors, TV news crews and the adoption chairwoman from the Minnesota Herpetological Society.
"They went right after this thing. They grabbed it and wrestled with it and threw it into the bag," Kiolbasa said of reptile expert Sarah Richard and her assistant.
Richard, who said she'll find a good home for the 8-pound snake, surmised that it had pushed through a screen door to freedom. Boa constrictors aren't poisonous and they tend to avoid confrontations, she said.
Kiolbasa, a financial adviser who missed some work during the excitement, said the snake was docile and unthreatening. Nobody had claimed it by early Wednesday evening.
"People should take the same care with their snakes as they do with their dogs and cats and keep them from getting outside," Richard said. The society, she said, places from 200 to 300 reptiles and amphibians a year after they've been found in such situations.
Just days ago, she said she'd rescued a tortoise that was walking down Hwy. 47 in Fridley.