Josh and I had to make a very quick trip to NM to get our car from Mom's house this weekend. Since it ate up a lot of time, Josh decided to go straight to school and get work done as soon as we got back in town. I headed home, unpacked, did laundry and other housework. Around 9pm, I decided to call it quits, take a shower and go to bed. Well, when I got out of the shower, I found a snake in the bathroom (and of course Josh is not around)! First check the tail. Whew- no rattle. It's only about 18 inches long, so I'm not too worried. It acted scared and tried to hide from me, so I figured I had time to get dressed and call Josh. Josh said he wouldn't be home for several hours- great. Then he added, "You could probably just leave it and it wouldn't hurt anything." Thanks, hon, but I DON'T THINK SO!!!! There was no way I was going to bed with a snake running loose in the house.
I quickly realized that we do not have any good snake catching tools in the house. So here's what I came up with.
Tools for the job: 3 foot long BBQ skewer used for roasting hotdogs while camping, a yard stick, a 5 gallon bucket
Goal: Catch the snake alive (yes, I'm a biologist, we try not to kill unnecessarily)
Strategy: Use the skewer and/or stick to pick up the snake and get it in the bucket without harming it (some of you may already be laughing!)
I should start by saying that I'm not generally scared of snakes. I will pet them and hold them, but I've never had to catch one. I thought it would be easier, but this little guy was a fighter! I locked myself in the bathroom to keep the dog out which gave me about 3 feet to work with. Every time I tried to touch him with a tool, he would get pretty aggressive and skittish. Then he would hide, then he would get mad, and I was getting nowhere.
New strategy: Pin his head down, grab him and put him in the bucket.
He didn't like that idea either. As soon as I got his head pinned down, he would wrap his body around my stick then pop his head out. Sneaky little guy. I wasn't fast enough either. I could have pressed down harder on him, but I was still trying to avoid harming him.
3rd strategy: Get rid of the snake so I can go to bed!
The snake was pretty mad at this point, so I couldn't leave to get a better tool and risk losing him in another room. I just had to bop him with the yard stick. He immediately flopped over on his back. I poked him to make sure he was dead. He was dead, but I decided to give him an extra bop for good measure. Yep, still dead. Getting him in the bucket was much easier when he wasn't fighting! I left the bucket on the front porch so Josh could see him. My heart was still racing, so I called Josh to tell him of my battle. He didn't seem to care, he was too busy working. So I called Mom- she was very proud of me. That's what Moms are good at! She encouraged me further by saying, "There are other poisonous snakes in TX that don't have rattles, so it's probably good that you got rid of it." I still didn't know what kind of snake it was, but I could go to bed and not worry about it anymore.
I brought the snake to school this morning and a professor in the Biology dept confirmed it was just a rat snake. Aggressive, yes- harmful, no- oh well. Since it was dead, the professor took it to use as a specimen, but he would have preferred to release it alive. I would have too. Maybe Josh will be home next time and be able to handle it better than I did. At least our dog never saw it. Titus would have thought it was a toy and would have probably ended up with a few superficial bites.
So that was my exciting night. What did you do last night?