Ramble On

Monday, April 21, 2008

Battle of the Species 4 - Snake in the Laundry

We begin with an article from Wikipedia:

“This species is a constrictor, meaning it suffocates its prey…though they do consume mice and rats, the Black Rat Snakes also willingly consume other snakes, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and bird eggs. Adults can become quite large and are known to reach up to eight (8) feet…the record length for a Black Rat Snake is 101 inches (2,600 mm), making it (officially) the largest snake in North America. When spotted by humans, Black Rat Snakes may freeze and wrinkle themselves into a series of kinks. If cornered, they may attempt to mimic rattlesnakes' behavior by vibrating the tip of their tail, giving a buzzing low-pitch sound. Black Rat Snakes are usually non-aggressive, but may strike at anyone who tries to capture or harm them. They are non-venomous, and bites are not usually serious.”

So on Saturday morning, for the second time, I heard Mary say, “Jim, a SNAKE!” There it was, coiled up clinging to the wall in the laundry room. Further research will let you know that the rat snake is also a climber. I contemplated it for a moment to make a plan…I wanted to know, did it recognize me from last time? If I forcibly removed it from the house again a second time, would it remember and not come back?

Meanwhile, Mary dissappeared and I did not see her again until Sunday.

Looking around, I chose a weapon – a broomstick that I was able to quickly detach – visible in the battle photos here. I reached over the snake, still coiled, and unlatched the dead bolt from the back door, pulling it open. Then, I knocked the snake to the floor.

It was still sleepy when I took the first photo here…it decided to go hide under the dryer instead of the happy outdoors that I was showing it. I blocked it from the dryer, hooked it with the broomstick and flung it outside…only making it to the stairs. I needed some practice to perfect my flinging movement. Sorry for the blurry photo - this is an action shot!

Meanwhile the snake considered whether to go on upstairs and out into the sun, or whether the dryer would really be a better place for it to rest.

Nothing doing from my point of view, this time, I hooked it with the broomstick and got it all the way outside to the path, second photo. I believe this was the same snake we’ve seen three times now, first under the back shed during some demolition last Fall, and then again in November when it first came inside through the hosebib in the laundry room.

I decided this snake wasn’t going to learn anything after all, and that I was going to have to send it to the forest. From where it lay, probably another forty feet. I figured three flings would do the trick.

The snake was still not overly upset about going airborne. So I hooked it with the broomstick again, this time flinging it about fifteen feet. It landed and turned around to see what was sending it sailing through the air, this time noticing me with the broomstick. The displays above were all demonstrated for me, including the coiling – see picture three from Wikipedia, and the whipping tail. As I mentioned, Mary was not around to enjoy seeing this display.

As I approached, I figured two more tosses and this snake is in the woods. Just then, he struck at me. I dodged. He recoiled and restruck. I dodged again, but before he could coil for a third strike, I hooked him and threw him most of the way to the woods…only about six feet left.

Two more strikes – one time, he got a mouthful of broomstick – and then I hooked him a final time and got him to the woods. As with the last time the snake was in the laundry, it stood coiled to defend itself for a long time after I walked away.

About 15 minutes later I went back outside to make sure it was headed in the right direction – into the woods, not back into the yard – and so it was. It was moving slowly off, stretched to full length…we had a five footer there.

It’s gone from the yard for now. I have my misgivings about this, because it is a good thing to have this particular kind of snake around. I can only hope that he will stay nearby, eating our mice and helping keep other snakes away.

1 comment:

Howard said...

"Meanwhile, Mary disappeared and I did not see her again until Sunday"

Love that one! Classic!