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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — It looked like a real snake in the grass — light brown, green and definitely threatening in the early morning light.

Few people like the shiny, sleek slitherers, so when they run into one in the dark at 5:30 a.m., they usually panic and call for help.

And who are you going to call? 911, that’s the number.

According to Kadena security officials, a Chibana housing resident called the 911 dispatch one day last week, claiming a snake had startled her while she was out walking the family dog.

Air Force military police officers from the 18th Security Squadron responded and found something vaguely reptilian hidden in the bushes.

Carefully, they sought to remove the unwelcome creature with a long-handled tong and a lasso normally used to snare stray pets. Twenty minutes later, they snagged the snake-like wooden beast.

Yes, wooden. The snake was one of those toy reptiles you find at 100-Yen stores.

A security officer, smiling shyly, later said they worked so long to capture the phony reptile because it looked real in the pre-dawn hour, and “you can never be too careful.”

The toy also was jointed and moved when they touched it with the pole.

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