A North Carolina family's "easy dinner" turned into much more, after they found a shocking surprise hiding inside their oven.
The confounding discovery happened when Amber Helm and her husband, Robert Helm, were cooking a frozen pizza earlier this week, the News & Observer reported.
After the pair had preheated their oven, popped in their dinner and let the pizza cook for around 10 minutes, they began noticing an unusually bad smell. Amber opened the oven, and inside she found an 18-inch long snake.
"I opened up the oven and thought ‘is that part of the oven?’ I looked more closely and it was a snake," she told the News & Observer.
The couple said they had no clue how the creature got in there, adding that the last time they used the oven — to cook a Christmas ham — there was nothing else inside. Shocked, the pair then worked to remove the animal.
Amber told the News & Observer that she originally thought the snake was still alive, noting its mouth was "wide open" as if it was trying to bite something. Her husband ultimately removed the snake from their appliance.
"I put the oven on self-clean after I pulled that crispy critter out," Rober told the News & Observer.
The couple, who have two small children, said they were frightened by the discovery. Still, Amber regrets that the snake had to die in such an unfortunate way.
"I’m not happy about the way that the snake died,” she said. "That’s a sad way to go for any living thing."
Amber added that while she's still not sure how the snake found its way inside the oven, she plans to be much more cautious in the future.
"I have two little boys so I’m just so concerned," she said. "Every time I see a shadow I’m like freaking out."
As for dinner, the family decided to avoid the oven for a while.
"We went out to eat," Amber told WRAL-TV. "We did not eat the pizza. I hear a lot of people asking the question. 'Did we eat the pizza?' No."
This isn't the first time a family has found a surprising animal in their home during the recent holiday season. Last month, a family in Georgia spent days trying to help a wild owl escape their Christmas tree.
In that instance, the animal thankfully survived, but the family was equally confused as to how it got there in the first place.