Saturday, February 26, 2011

Always Use a Bag - Repost

I'm fascinated by the beauty of many natural things -- old bones, shells, rocks -- and shed snakeskins. It's amazing to me how a six foot plus blacksnake can slip out of his old skin so neatly, leaving behind a perfect ghostly image of himself down to the lenses that covered his eyes.

There's been ample opportunity to study these shed skins -- we have one blacksnake who leaves a skin in our greenhouse several times a year while others twine their discarded finery into the crevices of our rock walls.

Blacksnakes are mostly welcome around our place -- they eat rats and mice and are said to deter copperheads. Unfortunately, they also eat baby birds and on occasion, one has taken up residence in our chicken house, swallowing the eggs one after another. When this happens, I try to catch the snake, put him in a bag, and take him for a ride around the mountain to release him in a wooded area.

I didn't always use a bag. It just didn't occur to me. But came the fateful day when I had hold of a great large snake lumpy with just-swallowed eggs. I handed him to my 15 year old son to hold while I drove the truck to the accustomed snake release area a few miles away.

We hadn't even gotten down to our mailbox before the snake began to poop. (Somehow, I'd never considered this possibility.) It was pasty and yellow and smelled (no surprise here) like rotten eggs. Appalled, my son let go of the snake's body but managed to hang on to his neck. "Arrrgh!" my son shouted. "Mum! Look what your snake is doing!"

And now the snake was regurgitating the last egg he'd eaten. I stopped the truck. "Just put him out here," I said, trying to sound really calm.

Easier said than done. My son had control of half of the snake -- the head end. But the tail end had slithered under the truck seat and was firmly wrapped around the jack.

By the time I'd gotten the indignant snake loose, the completely indignant son mollified, and the interior of the truck cleaned out, I'd learned a lesson.

Always use a bag.

This is a snake, lumpy with something he's just eaten -- probably mice. and this is a re-post -- there were no comments on its first outing three years ago -- maybe everyone was just grossed out.



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23 comments:

June said...

Good grief. He's huge. And he looks like one long digestive tract...which is what he probably is!
I never would have thought of snakes pooping either. I wonder why that never occurred to either of us.
Eww.

Marilyn said...

Oh this is interesting, funny and totally gross all at the same time.
I have a real horror of snakes, maybe because we don't have any in NZ and the only ones I ever got to hear about were poisonous ones. I am very ignorant about them so didn't know about them shedding their skins.
I am still laughing about the snake in your car, thanks for a good laugh.

Martin H. said...

Now, I'm fascinated to hear which snakes you have in the mountains, that are seriously dangerous. You mentioned Copperheads.

Pat in east TN said...

I don't remember this from the first time around, but laughed myself silly reading it this time. Now if this had happened to me I certainly wouldn't have found it at all amusing, but I guess time would help me get over it. What an adventure you had Vicki!

Elora said...

I've really got to hand it to you, girl...! You're amazing beyond words! I have a totally gut reaction to snakes and that's to jump and run. MM handles all the the slithery critters out here.(and is totally intolerant of my inability to handle them.) We get several in the chicken coop every year; yes, they raid the birdnests; and drape themselves over rafters in MM'shop. But, they are "good mousers" so I try to tolerate them. But I am in the "terrified" camp...inexplicably...except my mother was also terminally squeamish when it came to snakes, so I guess it's an inherited fear. I just couldn't do what you manage to do with them! What a post!

Elora

Kath said...

I'm also a fan of black snakes. I was more than pleased to spot one that comes out of the woods-line up to the mailbox. Theres' a good low growing juniper at the mailbox for it to hide under.

However. What is it hunting there? The mail person? Is this why I haven't netted a writing contract?

Reader Wil said...

Oh Vicki you never stop to amaze me! How brave you are! How do you know all those different snakes and how can you tell them apart.
The snakeskin is very beautiful and perfect. I have never seen one in reality.

Jean Baardsen said...

I'd like to be more friendly with other critters, but I can't see myself even touching a snake. That was a funny story - just think how upset the snake must have been!

Mama-Bug said...

That's one big black snake and lumpy at that. I bet the snake in the truck was quite funny after all was said and done! After I had a black racer chase me along a river bank I don't get to close to them anymore. I'll admire them at a distance!

Kristen Haskell said...

Like you I am also fascinated with snakes. I grew up in a valley completely undeveloped teaming with the creatures of the southwest. Horny toads were among my favorites but rattlers did there job and I always respected their warnings. I really enjoyed this post. I really laughed at your car sick snake. Sounds like when he got a hold of that jack he was hanging on for dear life.

Vicki Lane said...

I'll do another post next week, Martin, about poisonous snakes. We ave copperheads and there are said to be rattlesnakes around though I've never seen one here.

I, too, have that gut response when I see a snake. But I've learned to get past it --

Maybe you'd best relocate that mailbox snake, Kath!

Brian Miller said...

oh my...really i am not snickering...it just seemed to keep getting worse...smiles. we get quite a few in the back yard outselves...

Deanna said...

Oh dear. This post was difficult for me to read. I have the most unreasonable fear of snakes of all kinds. Even the small green ones.

Fortunately hubby has no such fear and is able to move them a respectable distance away when they invade my privacy.

I would have freaked! Very funny story.

Louise said...

Oh, I laughed so hard my cat came over to find out what was wrong. There are no black snakes here, I wish there were, they look fascinating.

Misty said...

It fascinates me as well. How wonderful it would be to leave this old skin behind and get a brand new one every year or so, no scars, no wrinkles, no gray, etc...

Beth said...

What a great story---it cracked me up! I don't mean to be even grosser, but I couldn't help but think that it was a blessing that it was eggs and not mice that your snake had just consumed. It could have been worse...

My grandpa had a huge black snake in his barn that helped keep the mouse population down. As a child, for some reason, I was always terrified that that snake would drop down on me from the rafters. I had nightmares about it, in fact.

Darla said...

Totally fascinating. Totally cool. Incredible, beautiful, mesmerizing creatures. :-) And love the story! LOL Plus, the photo is awesome; I've never seen a lumpy snake before!

Eliane Zimmermann said...

such a funny story, i had to LOL!!!! if this happened to my 12 year old son he probably would have yelled and screamed. but we are lucky, saint patrick drove the snakes out of ireland so there is no single such reptile around here, he did a great job!!!

Joyce said...

Vicki,
We have resident blacksnakes and have several stories about our adventures. One observation that I have made is that they tend to do that lumpy, rickrack, shape when they are nervous. I first noticed it when I found one draped over a chair next to our bedroom door. I've seen others adopt that shape while I watched. Maybe it's a reaction to being embarrassed.

Vicki Lane said...

Misty -- I've had that thought myself~ I used it in my last book where my main character watches a snake shedding its skin and thinks about reinventing herself.

Joyce~ An embarrassed snake! I love that thought!

Tess Kincaid said...

Kindred spirits, we. I adore old bones, rocks and shells. When we first moved to WM, we found a huge shed black snake skin just like yours in the attic, of all places!

Tipper said...

Always use a bag-that might be good advice for many things : )

Brenda said...

I hope you've used that snake transport story in one of your books somewhere!! It is crying out to be used in a book. What a hoot, thanks for sharing!