Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In Which We Are Beset by Snakes

You know how I live in a house? And that house has walls and a roof and floors? And when you build a house, stuff has to go underneath the floor to keep the house from crumbling to bits and falling into the river (if you happen to live on a river)?

When our house was built, the people who made it first built one section. Then they decided they rather liked the river view, and they built another section, an addition. The addition is where we watch TV, where we sit and stare at each other when we are too tired to move, and where the chunk of tree swung down off the roof and bashed through the window when my brother and father forgot Newton's Laws of Motion.

That section of the house, the addition, has no basement underneath it. It has a crawl space. So, if you were so inclined, you could slither underneath the house on your belly, no doubt discovering all manner of unspeakable things, like spiders as big as your face.

And now, snakes.

On Sunday, I took a stroll around the house with Mom, because she intended to show me what she planned to do with the area around our air conditioning unit.

"I will get stone," she said. "And I will put it around the air conditioner, and I will take all these plants out."

While she said this, Paul was driving around on the lawn mower, trimming the grass on our lawn.

And as we looked at the air conditioner, we noticed the entrance to the crawl space seemed...open. And that there seemed to be a something in the gap between the crawl space door and the side of the house. And that something had scales. And also three tails.

Snakes do not come with three tails.

Unless there is more than one snake. Then there can be three tails, but it means three snakes.

We have (at least) three snakes living under our house.

Naturally, we were surprised. We waved Paul over, and he observed the snakes as they went back into their (our) home. And then we went to the grocery store and Paul finished mowing.

When we came back, I went out with my camera to see if I could find the snakes. And I got a stick, for poking.

I poked the stick into the crawl space to no avail, but when I turned to walk back toward the house, I noticed something.


There it was. The snake, which, according to Mom, has "girth" and is therefore more horrible than smaller, lesser snakes. The snake was between me and the door to the house, and while I could walk around the house to get to the door, this was serious. I was not going to be confronted by a snake like this. No.

"So. There you are," I said. "You with your scales and things. On the cement. There."

The snake did not reply.

"You need to, you know...go. Now. It's important that you move out," I continued. "Because this is a house for people with limbs. And now I am getting a longer stick, because I have opposable thumbs, and I can do that."

I was very gentle. I did not want to hurt the snake. Not ever. But I did want to scare it a little, to show it that humans are scary and that it maybe did not want to hang out around us so much, even if it did have a conveniently climate-controlled home to live in. I moved the stick close to the snake, and it coiled a bit and moved its tiny head up to look at me a bit better. It stuck out its snakey tongue.

Having tried a few times to identify various snakes, I knew belly color was important. And I also thought it might be helpful to me if the snake wasn't in my path any more. Also it could go down the slope and live a happy snake-y life.

So I took my stick and picked up the snake with it, Steve Irwin-style. I then moved the surprisingly heavy snake for a few steps, until the whole experience freaked me out enough that the snake slithered off the stick and into the ivy.

I fetched Darcy. Together, we watched the snake from a safe distance, occasionally parting the ivy with the stick so we could see where the snake was hiding.

Then we went inside and tried to figure out how to remove snakes from a crawlspace without having an Indiana Jones experience with them. Apparently, the Indonesians know quite a bit about this sort of thing, and you can encourage snakes to leave with water (nope), fire (nope), or by ringing the house with sulfur (what a lovely smell that will cause) or mothballs (seriously, do they intend humans to live in a house ringed with noxious chemicals?).

We have resolved to throw mothballs in the crawlspace and see what happens. Then we will seal up the crawlspace.

Also, it seems that our snake friends might actually be endangered. So there's that.