A DIY enthusiast had the surprise of his life when he was confronted by a rearing five foot snake.
Father-of-three Thomas Clarke, of Catlow Hall Street, Oswaldtwistle was attempting to put his electricity back on when he spotted the slithery character looking right at him.
He said: "I had been working on the house all day and had just finished fixing the kitchen light when I opened the meter box and saw it.
"I literally went cold. I really didn’t know if it was venomous or not but it definitely looked dangerous. It was about five foot and hissing at me.
"My first instinct was to run but I didn’t want it to get out and for me not to know where it was."
Mr Clark, 55, immediately contacted the RSPCA for advice and help.
He added: "The RSPCA said they would send someone out, but we needed to check if the snake belonged to any of our neighbours first. So I went along the street to see if anyone would claim it."
The RSPCA inspector arrived two hours later and captured the snake in a netted noose.
Initially it was thought the snake was a mildly venomous North American Garter Snake, but experts have since confirmed it is actually a non-venomous California king snake.
Mr Clark said: "I don’t really want to think about what could have happened if the snake had been venomous.
"The RSPCA inspector told us the snake was tame and that it had probably been released by its owner who was struggling to feed it because of the recession.
"There is a house on the street that has recently become empty and it looks as though it may have come from there. But we will never know.
"I hate to think about how long it’s been in the house, or how close it has been to me or my family."
The snake is now being looked after by registered exotic expert, Joe McQuaid ,known locally as Crocodile Joe.
He said: "The snake has obviously been really well looked after, it’s in such good condition.
"It’s a gorgeous creature and I’m sure its owner will be missing it.
"He can’t have escaped more than a couple of weeks ago at the most.
"I’d really like to see the two of them re-united and anyone who thinks it belongs to them should get in touch."
A spokesman from the RSPCA said: "The RSPCA collected a California king snake from a member of the public on Wednesday.
"The snake – which is in good condition – is now in the care of one of our registered exotic experts, Crocodile Joe.
"Anyone who thinks the snake belongs to them can call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or contact him direct."