Wrestling with a cottonmouth in my monkey pajamas
September 10, 2012 § 6 Comments
On Saturday morning, Dave was outside when he noticed a little tail sticking out from one of the flowerbeds. At first, he thought the tail belonged to our cat Sophie. But no, Sophie was right there, sitting on the walkway. And Sophie was very interested in the tail as well. Dave moved in for a closer look, and immediately stepped back because the tail belonged to a very large snake, the top half of which was rustling around in our flower bed.
Together, the two of us (in our pajamas) pushed the snake around in the foliage with a shovel and the garden hose, ascertaining that the snake was about 4 feet long, extremely fat, with a beautiful patterned matte black topside, and a yellowy-creamy-colored underside. This was not our harmless pet Slim Jim-the water-snake. We figured this was probably a water moccasin, also known as a cottonmouth. Cottonmouths are poisonous and highly aggressive.
Fortunately for us, our uninvited visitor had just had a meal (hopefully his meal wasn’t our pet Slim Jim-the-water-snake), and he was too full to feel like attacking anyone. Otherwise, I or Dave would surely have been bitten. Probably it would have been Dave being chased down and bitten, because I was in track and field in college, so I can promise you that it wouldn’t have been me getting bitten.
I corralled the cats in the house (cats are so stupid about wanting to play with snakes…they’re not smart like me and Dave). Then Dave grabbed the water hose, and like the big strong man that he is, he manfully blasted at the snake with the water hose (on the ‘jet” setting, just in case you feel like trying this at home). Did I mention that Dave was in his pajamas, too (red plaid)? Meanwhile, I (still stylishly clad in my blue pajamas imprinted with little monkeys riding on fleecy white clouds, because I’m all about looking cute while I wrangle snakes) grabbed a shovel and was standing by to scrape up the big meanie if/when he emerged from our poorly-maintained flower bed. After I grabbed him, my plans were to throw him into the garbage can, and then close the lid…who knows what I would do with him after that…maybe take him on a drive and dump him into one of the bayous around here.
He NEVER came out of the flower bed. Somehow we lost him. We spent the rest of the day, worried that he might jump out and attack a dog or one of the cats. Finally, Dave just grabbed the weed eater, and plowed down the flower bed (we’d been meaning to do it for awhile anyway). Now we have a nice smooth strip of dirt next to the mudroom door, and no snakes. We still don’t know where the snake is.
In the midst of trying to find the snake (before we plowed down the flowerbed), I asked Dave how exactly a 4-foot-long snake came to hang out in our yard. Here’s what he said:
Dave: He’s probably on vacation.
Libby: Well, he’s not taking a vacation here; I’m telling you that.
Dave: Lib, he’s on HOLIDAY.
Libby: I’m going to go squirt him some more water from the hose…I don’t want him to be so comfortable on his holiday.
Dave: Ok. Change out of your pajamas first.
We’re calling him Clarence. Just temporarily, because he is not welcome here.
Update: We just heard from a snake expert, who tells us that our snake is a female, and is likely not a cottonmouth. The expert told me that she (whom we’ll now call Clara instead of Clarence) is a “Nerodia,” an aggressive nonvenemous water snake. Even though she is not poisonous, we were urged to be careful around her, since this type of snake enjoys attacking people…all the more reason for her to take a holiday elsewhere. Nonvenemous or not, she’s still not welcome here.