Spring’s arrived in my neck of the woods – or more appropriately – the high desert. The crocuses are budding and the reptiles are coming out of their long-time’s burrows.
The latter wouldn’t have been known to me if it hadn’t been for my black lab, Yaeger. He was kind enough to bring me the gift of a snake — indoors.
The thing is – the snake was still alive. In fact while Yaeger had a toothy grip of the serpent, it had his head wrapped in its coils.
When I saw what he had in his jaws, I was able to chase the other three dogs from the house and drop the doggie door. I then proceeded to examine the snake – albeit — from a safe distance.
At first I thought the snake was a rather large Diamondback Rattler. It had all the tell-tale markings of this highly venomous reptile.
But I quickly noted it was missing a set of rattlers and the shape of its head was longer than it was triangle-shaped. Therefore, I concluded it was simply a Gopher Snake.
As a rule Gopher snakes are harmless. They won’t bite unless they’re threatened.
This one was obviously threatened.
So calmly and as gently as I could, I tried to get Yaeger to let go of the snake. Instead, he wanted to “play a game of keep away.” After four or perhaps five times around the kitchen island, I grew frustrated and yelled, “Damn it, Yaeger!”
His lab-brain must have heard something different – like, maybe – “Drop it, Yaeger!” because that’s exactly what he did. Now, I had no idea how fast a snake could move across a hard wood floor.
The reptile came directly at me and I was compelled to jump on the kitchen island to escape. Meantime, Yaeger simply walked over and climbed in my easy chair to watch as the games begin.
The snake, I estimate, was about four and half to 5-feet in length and was able to clear the couch within seconds of me gathering my wits and giving chase. After going up and over the couch, as opposed to under it, the snake headed for the sliding glass door.
It slapped into the glass three times at full-tilt, trying to get outside, but didn’t slow down to allow me enough time to open the door. Instead it zipped around the corner and down our hallway towards the bedrooms.
Fortunately, all three bedroom doors were closed. Had it gotten in one of them, I’d possibly still be on the hunt for it.
Instead it lay, coiled up at the end of the hallway and displayed the behavior of the snake I first believed it to be. It was trapped and like most wild animal’s, it was willing to battle its way free.
Slowly, I walked towards the snake, removing my zip-up sweat-shirt and sat down a couple of feet from it. I didn’t reach for it or anything – I jus’ sat quietly.
About fifteen to 20 minutes later, I Gopher snake had relaxed from it defensive posturing and started to flick its tongue about — tasting the air and exploring its unfamiliar environment. A few more minutes and it moved away from the wall, coming to where I was seated.
It took me only seconds to bundle it in my sweat shirt and head for the front door. I jumped in my truck and drove to the end of our road, to where we have a huge undeveloped field — and I release the Gopher snake.
When I got home, I checked Yaeger for possible bites and found none – so no blood, no foul in my book. I’m still concerned though – if a Gopher snake was in our yard this early in the year– are we about to get a mischief of mice?
I should’ve asked the Golfer snake before letting him go.