Thursday, May 03, 2012

All that slithers

Nothing against snakes--some of my best friends are snakes! But I don't want a rat snake serving as my personal doorman. (Doorsnake?)

I grew up with snakes and I appreciate their peculiar charm. My baby brother was a pretty accomplished amateur herpetologist who kept snakes in terraria all over the house, including just below our tiny television on the TV cart, so that it was possible to simultaneously watch a thrilling episode of Gilligan's Island and a rat snake swallowing whole a live mouse.

And all these years later the only thing I remember from my Girl Scout troop's trip to the National Zoo was watching a 12-foot-long Burmese python regurgitate a big pile of--um, never mind.

So I don't mind snakes qua snakes. Rat snake in a terrarium in the family room: fine. Burmese python regurgitating behind thick glass at the zoo: swell. But when I open my front door to find a rat snake slithering into a hole just beside my front door, I object.

It's true that rat snakes are not bad to have around given their tendency to eat rats, bats, mice, moles, voles, shrews, and other assorted vermin, but sometimes creatures come to my door who are not vermin and who don't particularly want to be eyed as if they were vermin--who, indeed, might take offense at being greeted by a rat snake rather than a human being. I was, frankly, a little alarmed to note the snake sticking its beady little eyes out of its hidey-hole every few minutes as I worked out front planting purple petunias this morning. How am I supposed to pay attention to petunias while keeping half an eye on the snake?

Hopeful has been known to snatch snakes before but she took no notice of this one even after I pointed it out. Too hot for hunting? Perhaps.

Of course it's one thing to keep half an eye on a snake when you know exactly where the snake is, but it's another thing entirely to walk away for a while and lose track entirely. I'm bound to spend the rest of my days stepping carefully over the snake each time I walk out the door even when the snake isn't there at all.

But I'll promise you one thing: no matter how faithful a doorman he may be, that snake's not getting a tip from me.

No comments: