Snakes R Us
Living on a creek, you get all sorts of wildlife: raccoon, opossum, beavers, turkey buzzards, field mice, foxes, etc.... we even had bald eagles nesting at one point. The wildlife laws stated we could not make noise along the creek or they might not mate. Really?? How is one to determine the acceptable decibel of a bird?
I bought my house at 22 years old, it was old but it was home. It had a detached garage with barn door type of entrance. One beautiful day shortly after moving in, I decided to go check out the garage and do some yard work. When I opened the doors, falling into my face like a hangman's noose was a six foot long snake skin. I freaked, screamed, jumped around. I thought it was the snake itself. Then I closed the doors and told my husband, "We don't need the garage anyway. That thing was here first, he can keep it."
Don't get me wrong, I knew it was not a poisonous snake, and snakes are useful to keep wildlife away.... I just don't want one in my house. So Harry--that's his name--and I made an agreement: You stay out of my house, I'll stay out of yours. We would see each other in the yard every once in awhile and say hello... but for the most part, we just avoided each other.
So winter rolled around, and I had a couple field mice (the small, cute kind, not the big hairy rat kind) that wanted to camp in my utility room. I didn't want to share my home with them either, but I couldn't kill them. What can I say? I'm a Jersey Hick with a heart. In the dead of winter I trapped the mice with "Mice Cubes" from Walmart. Seriously, these are the best traps I ever used, and it doesn't kill them. I'd walk them down the end of the street and let them go near the woods. I sorta always assumed they would go right for the nearest house, but hey, that was on them. I gave them a shot.
Eventually we decided to knock down the garage, and I never thought about Harry. That was very inconsiderate of me. The next winter, I bought my mice traps and checked them everyday. Nothing. Hmmm. That was weird, because every winter we would get them. The whole winter went by and no mice. One night while I was lying in bed, I figured out why. I heard something shift upstairs in the attic. It is a creepy thing to hear something like that, and it sounded big. Really big. It also sounded like something was being dragged across the floor.
I sent my husband into the attic-- You didn't think I was going, did you? He found a snake skin. Harry grew. Harry was now eight feet long. Apparently when we knocked down the garage, Harry made residence in the attic and decided to do some decorating as his slithered across my attic. He also ordered room service and must have eaten the mice that normally lived in my utility room. After some careful thought, I figured it was better to have an 8 ft snake in the attic who never leaves his room, than mice in the main part of the house that could nibble in my kitchen.
After my dalmatian, Rainy, passed away, I joined a dalmatian rescue and fostered two dalmatians who had been abused and neglected. Harry and the dogs had a slight disagreement as to whose yard it was. Harry struck at the dogs like a cobra, it was scary and fascinating at the same time. The snake did not have a chance if the dogs worked together, but he wasn't giving up. I got the dogs before a physical confrontation ensued. But... I soon found out... Harry was really Harriet. She had a nest near the creek she was tying to defend.
This was not the only snake in the house incident I ever had. As a kid, I was in the living room playing the Atari 2600. My mother was washing the dishes and putting them in the cabinet above her head. She is so short, "five foot nothing" as we say. She start yelling, "Who put a rope in the cabinet with the dishes? What are you kids up to?"
Now think about this a second. She was a grown woman who could barely reach in the cabinet.... how did she think my brother and I would reach it? And WHY would we have rope. It was too close to the kitchen sink.... near the dirty dishes... near "chore' activity. Do you really think kids would be anywhere near work????
She reached in to pull out the "rope" and found a five foot long snake in her hand. She screamed for me to help her. I was like 8 years old, what was I supposed to do? I jumped on a table and screamed. Then I ran outside and found a neighbor kid. The boys in the neighborhood loved fishing, turtle trapping and other animal oriented stuff. So a boy named Bobby came in and grabbed the end of the snake. It quickly wrapped the rest of its body around the thin strip of wood between the two open cabinet doors.
Bobby was not the brightest star in the sky, and started pulling the snake's tail. The entire cabinet work start shaking as he pulled and pulled. Had he stopped, it might have relaxed and tried to slither away where he could grab it, but no. With one last pull, he not only ripped the snake down, but also pulled down the entire cabinet structure.
"Uh, sorry, Mrs. D'Ettore." He held up his prize, "but I got the snake."
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