The owner of a Mineola auto body shop found a venomous snake in his garage on Tuesday morning.

Efrain Cruz, the owner of A2D AutoWorks at 371 Sagamore Ave., said he believes the snake, later determined to be a copperhead, was taken by officials to the Bronx Zoo.

Cruz said the day started out normal; he hung out in his office and then went to his rear garage.

“I saw something move, I’m thinking the wind,” Cruz recalled in an interview. “And it moved even more, and when I looked down that’s when I realized what it was.”

At the time the snake was preoccupied with a rat in its mouth, Cruz said.

Unfamiliar with snakes himself, Cruz sent photos of the one he found to a couple of friends.

“I said, ‘hey, check out this snake I found out in back of my shop,'” Cruz said. “My friend calls me and highly warns me to stay away. That’s when he warned me it was a poisonous snake.”

Cruz said he called animal control but officers there said they don’t deal with snakes.

Cruz then called the police, he said.

Before finding out the snake was poisonous, Cruz and a co-worker had used a long shovel to put the snake in a bin. As soon as it got in the bin it spit out the rat.

“From there, we had it cornered,” Cruz said.

Efforts to reach the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were unavailing, but SPCA spokesman Gary Rogers told Newsday in his 40 years with the agency he has never seen a copperhead loose on Long Island.

“There is no reason for it to be here … it’s like finding a gun in the street,” Rogers told Newsday.

Rogers said copperheads are not native to Long Island and it was likely brought to Nassau by someone keeping it illegally as a pet.

A copperhead bite could be fatal if not treated immediately, Rogers told Newsday.

The agency will conduct an investigation to find the source and see if others are loose, Rogers told Newsday, noting the snakes can lay several eggs at a time.

Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.

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