Friday, February 8, 2013

The WILDlife

I'm taking a bit of a change in direction.  I felt particularly bad just writing about the exploits of Dead Mama's family.  It just seemed mean, albeit hysterical, to concentrate on them alone.  I have so many entertaining stories about just living here, it seemed logical to just expand the focus.

At one point you could not walk to the back of anyone's yard and not hit undeveloped woods.  Typical Florida scrub, lots of water and turkey oaks, pine trees and tons of Palmettos and other native palms, and of course, wildlife.

When I was very little, we had a swing-set in the backyard.  Shortly after my parents put it up, the local bear population took to nighttime play on the set.  We'd come out in the morning and find bear tracks in the sand around the swings.  Another time we heard a bobcat right at the back of our property line, spotlights only revealed the glowing eyes.  But the biggest backyard attendees were the raccoons, possums and snakes.

Today, the bears and bobcats are gone, we are pretty much just left with a raccoon here or there, far fewer now that the city has issued those massive garbage cans for the automatic trucks, a possum on the odd day and the ever present snakes.

Several years ago, when we had a full house of cats, I would crack the front door and let them go outside for some recreation.  One warm winter day, they were frolicking and I was surfing the internet, when I heard a loud bang as the front door hit the wall.  I have a computer room at the back of the house with a long narrow hallway connecting it to the living areas.  As I walked out of the room to see what the bang was about, I witnessed about a foot of black snake tail disappearing into the bathroom off the hallway.

I knew I must be seeing things, so I cautiously peeked in the door and sure enough there was a very large black snake in the bathroom.  I made a noise that could probably be used on "The Walking Dead" as a zombie cry.  I closed the door and shoved a towel under the crack.  And called Ed.

Years before this, JC mouth delivered a very small black snake (think pencil) in the dining room and I called Ed when he worked at a retail big box hardware store on the weekends with a panicked what do I do?  He was not leaving the garden center on a Saturday afternoon in Spring to deal with a 5 inch snake, so using a broom and screeching, I got the snake out of the house.  I am sure much to his delight, as to mine!  So when I called Ed to say there was a snake in the house, he was trying to blow me off again.

How big is it?  he asked.  I replied, HUGE.  He didn't believe me.  I told him it was over a foot long, because that much I saw disappear into the bathroom.  He said he'd be home when he could, about an hour or so.  Well I wasn't about to have that snake outside of the bathroom.  So I closed all the bedroom doors, blocked the doors into the family room and living room using chairs, ottomans, benches, even a hall tree turned on its side.  At the door to the bathroom, I erected a toilet paper package wall (something good about buying from the club stores!)

Ed finally got home and laughed at my snake corral.  I told him, if it shot past him, he had no choice but to go outside.  Ed scoffed, took his snake grabber and a 5 gallon bucket and went to open the door.  I flew over the ottoman and was standing on a dining room chair by the time he said, "OH SHIT! That's a BIG snake."

Thank you Captain Obvious!

As I stood there, I heard some scuffling, then a "dammit" from Ed.  The cabinet door opened and shut.  Ed said, "he's gone."

At this point I must admit, my voice went up about 6 octaves as I said, "WHAT?!?!?!"

Seems the snake, who was a non-poisonous Eastern Racer snake, had done what these snakes do best, fled the danger by squeezing into a crack between the cabinet and the wall.  He was gone.

Thus started Ed's week of hell.  I woke up for work at that time at 3am.  I would not get out of bed without a check of the floor, bathroom, hallway etc.  And Ed lost the snake, so therefore he was the one doing the checking.  When I got home in the afternoon, I had several hours alone with the cats and my new friend "Monty" (as in python).

After a week of this, I was sitting in the computer room (feet under me on the chair) when I noticed the cat contingent paying a bit of attention to the closed closet door behind me.  I mean they were laying down, pawing under the door.  Not a good sign.  I then saw the little black head of Monty peeking out from under the door.  I pulled the cats out, closed the door to the room (first opening the window, like I thought the snake would climb up the wall and out) and called Ed.  As I waited for him, I re-erected my snake corral.  Just in case he tried anymore Houdini routines.

When Ed got home he had to clear the entire closet out to eventually find Monty.  Because he was in the corner, Ed was able to grab him with the snake grabber and get him in the bucket.  Yes, with a lid on, these guys are like cobras, they rear up.  As he walked over my barriers, while still in the house, he offered to show me Monty.  "NOT INSIDE" I shrieked...can you imagine if he got out again?

Back in the woods, we released him.  He was about 3 1/2 feet long.  About average for these guys, we have  a few slightly larger in the yard.  As Ed opened the lid (holding the bucket sideways), Monty propelled himself out, just as happy to be free of us as we were of him.

After that two things happened:  no cat gets an unsupervised outdoor visit and all the Racer snakes are named a variation of "Monty".

Monty Junior was sunning at my mailbox a week or so ago.

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