NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — A New London woman had a big surprise this weekend when she opened her garbage can.

“The snakes were in a pillowcase, and it was kind of moving, and she was concerned that it was a cat,” said Tonya Kloiber, an animal control officer.

It wasn’t a cat — it was two ball python snakes.

Kloiber said one of the snakes was dead, and the other was extremely thin. She’s caring for it herself in a cage at her home. Now, she’s warning others to do their research before getting an exotic pet.

“Some will eat the frozen rodents you can get at a pet store,” Kloiber said. “Some will not. So, those you have to feed live.”

Owning the snakes is legal, but tossing them into the trash can lead to cruelty to animal charges.

The snakes live in tropical climates, which means that the ones left in the garbage wouldn’t survive the winter if left outside. In Florida, released snakes are wreaking havoc on native species.

“They’ve literally caught them and found like alligators inside of them,” Kloiber said.

If you find one, visit Connecticut Humane Society’s Wildlife Resources and Lost and Found Pets.