Sunday, June 13, 2010
When it comes to wild animals in the house, I usually try and draw the line.
I’m not afraid of snakes. In fact, I have had several close encounters with snakes over the years. I did field survey work for a long time out on the Kaibab National Forest near Grand Canyon, where I regularly crossed paths with the local rattlers and came to respect their predatory skill and never back down style.
As a general rule, most humans fear snakes. It’s bred in our bones, and fueled by the Bible and countless myths and stories about the evil and dangers surrounding the snake. But think for a minute how scary we must be to a snake. We must seem incredibly threatening, towering over the snake like a giant, like a tree. Now, throw in our hostile and unpredictable behavior, and it should be pretty clear that the snake has much more to fear from us than vice versa.
The one thing I vividly remember about that snake in Carcass Wash was its defiance and complete lack of fear. It coiled itself into a tight ball and felt the air with its tongue as its tail rattled out an angry beat. “Bring it on!” it seemed to hiss.
As I looked at the uninvited black snake in my dining room, I was seeing that same face of steadfast survival. The black snake had stumbled into the great unknown and was faced with what surely seemed – and could have easily been – a life-threatening situation. But he was not backing down a bit.
So, I was faced with a dilemma. I didn’t want to hurt the snake, but I didn’t want it in my dining room either. So what was I to do?
I headed for the garage in search of some larger tool with which I could get rid of the black snake invading my kitchen. I considered a rake (too big and unwieldy), then a shovel (perfect for killing, but not shooing), and settled finally on a broom. For good measure, I picked up a golf club. On my way into the patio I left the door open so Blackie could have a straight shot out of the house. Using the broom as my primary mover I warily approached the snake. He tongued the air and slowly raised his head as if preparing to do battle.
I tried to push the snake toward the kitchen door with the broom. Blackie struck defiantly at his attacker. I used the golf club to try and sort of lift the back end of the snake along.
At this point Blackie decided to retreat and it slid behind the refrigerator. This was not good. The battle was degenerating into a “come and get me” disaster. I briefly wondered if there was a number I could call to get someone to come and rid me of my intruder – you know, like Snakebusters. But that clearly wasn’t happening on a Sunday night.
I bent down and looked under the refrigerator. I could see nothing. I stood up and said, “Blackie, go HOME!”
I went back to the library to check out the soccer match for a few minutes and settle my thoughtrs. The americans were in full defensive mode and the English were peppering the U.S. goal relentlessly.
I returned to the kitchen and pulled the refrigerator out from the wall and peered into the open space, but Blackie was nowhere to be seen. After five minutes of searching and poking at everything in the kitchen and porch with my trusty golf club, it was clear that my snake friend had indeed gone home. He must have followed his own scent back out the way he came in. That’s very cool. I didn’t know snakes could do that.
Posted by Steve Carr at 10:03 AM