Friday, April 16, 2010

Guess who came to dinner?


Imagine you're hurriedly walking into an unused room and as soon as you open the door, you see this.
'This' was a harmless Rat Snake but the fright it gave me must surely be reverberating through the DNA of at least the coming 3 generations of my family!

Rewind : A couple of months ago a crew of painters and their hangers-on had taken over my house. The destruction they brought in their wake still has me tearing my hair out. In one particular bathroom they ended up cracking tilework and leaving big splotches of white cement trying to patch up more broken tiles. In retrospect, their finishing touch must've been pulling out the drain cover and then casually placing it back without bothering to cement it down.
In any case, the end result was that it looked so bad that we closed up that room till we find the time to fix it up again.

The other day, I remembered that I had to check on some stuff there and hurriedly went in. Only to realise that something was not quite right. And there to my left, just 2 feet away was this very scared Rat Snake, obviously thinking the same thing! He had climbed up on the sink and was literally trying to climb the wall.
I freaked out! Now I'm used to seeing snakes in the garden and actually enjoy it (from a safe distance) but I have never ever had one of them actually inside my house. I think I was more startled because it was so totally unexpected.

It didn't really register in my mind that it was only a harmless Rat Snake but all I could think at that moment was there's a snake in my house and that's crossing all lines that we've drawn down the years.
In all my years of living here, they've never done that but preferred to stay in the garden, chasing frogs or rats or whatever else took their fancy. And I've been thankful to them for that. But it has always been "you stay in your space and I'll stick to my space" between us. So why had that changed now?

The answer to that was a big frog lying near the drain. It had obviously come up through the loose drain cover and the snake had followed it in. I wonder what he thought of this strange new territory ...
Anyway, our helper came in armed with a long stick and flicked it down on to the floor near the drain. The speed with which it zipped back down that drain was amazing!

Poor little snake! He had come in looking for a nice quiet meal and all he got was gatecrashing humans!

27 comments:

  1. Oh. My. Gosh. I would have totally freaked out, too. I guess you ended up having time to run for your camera! I might never have entered that room again;-) Now be sure to put a boulder over that drain so nothing can come back up!!

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  2. I can imagine the fright you got!

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  3. tht was a beautiful creature... must have been quite a shock all the same! :)

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  4. ein großer Schreck! Ja, die arme Schlange, wollte nur essen und das im verkehrten Raum, lach.
    Schlangen sind so wunderschöne Tiere und sie fassen sich so seidig an. Ich bin immer entsetzt, wenn man Damen mit Handtaschen oder Schuhe und Gürtel aus Schlangenleder sieht. Schande!!!

    liebe Grüße Dörte

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  5. OMG…..eerie … creepy thing. I hate the very sight of them. Sworn enemies since the ‘Paradise days’ of our ancestors. If not for one of their ancestors we would still be in ‘Paradise’ running around enjoying without a fig leaf!

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  6. Sunita,
    AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaH ! Snaaaaaake .... good lord ... the picture freaks me out enough. Now I got to go and get those mesh up as quickly as possible on my bathroom windows ... I love the garden and the groundfloor ... snaaaaaakes .... nooooooo ... hope you doin' fine.Take care.

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  7. Sunita,
    We had a large oak crash into the kitchen at my old place during Hurricane Fran. The hole in the wall/floor was uncover able and the insurance company took 13 weeks to decide what to do. Anyway we had a microwave oven in the living room and one morning a rat snake was sitting happily on top of it. Tried to catch it bu failed when it went under the fridge. Moved out the next day.

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  8. Whoa Sunita....I can well imagine the fright you've had! Good thing you had your helper nearby. I don't know what I would have done...oh yes I'd scream so loud that the whole of neighbourhood and more would have heard me. Workmen destroy everything in their path that they are not working on. I was complaining about the mess they leave and I have to go around collecting bits and pieces after them. The worst ones are the masons, all my buckets I use in the garden are ruined and so is my wheelbarrow. It has a split in the middle of the bucket. I have to watch them like a hawk so that they do not use my good tools and containers. Even my flower pots are not safe! Hmmmnnnn.... I do hope you get that drain fixed asap so that you wouldn't have anymore uninvited visitors. And remember, watch dem workmen!

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  9. Snakes! Wow, I'd probably freak too at first. My neighbor across the street, a very lovely older woman, called us one day in a complete panic. From what I could decipher from her was that there was a giant poisonous snake in her yard and we needed to help her get rid of it. Knowing her tendency to over exaggerate and the fact we don't have poisonous snakes here in the city, I figured it couldn't be that bad. And I was right. In a bucket she had this tiny garter snake. And I mean tiny. It was barely larger than a large nightcrawler. LOL We took it and let it go in our bean patch. I haven't seen it since.

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  10. I am so glad you did not think of killing it!! You even realised that the snake was also afraid!
    Hats off to you!

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  11. I would want to encounter a snake so close no matter how harmless it is. I would have freaked out too, maybe freese, cold sweat, hair on ends like Scoobie Doo seeing a ghost!

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  12. Ha I bet that was a surprise! Glad you are both safe and sound after a trying day.

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  13. Oh I didn't really enter that room, Jan, just stuck one arm in with the camera! ;D
    You bet, the first thing I did was to get out the cement and close that entry to all trespassers!

    Mridula, 'fright' is such an understatement.It'll be quite some time before I can enter that room again without looking out for snakes in every corner!

    You're so right,Dorte. That poor snake was really in the wrong place! :D
    And yes, seeing women using snakeskin bags and shoes make me feel sick!

    Nebu, I don't mind them, actually. In fact, I quite appreciate their help in keeping down the rat population in the garden. It's just the fact that it was on the wrong side of the wall that startled me.

    Hi Rajee, have you settled into your new home yet? Oh yes, put up the mesh and make sure the drain covers are on tight. Gardens and groundfloor rooms have a way of attracting snakes, especially when they want to escape the hot summer days and find some cool place to snooze in.

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  14. Gauri, yes it was quite a sleek creature. But it gave me quite a shock all the same :P

    Randy that must've been a real double whammy! I cant imagine having a huge tree crashing into my house. And then to see the wildlife strolling in...!

    Helen, I was too shocked to scream. I just pulled out the one foot I had put into that room and slammed the door tight so the snake wouldnt get funny ideas like trying to hide in one of the other rooms.
    I think this particular crew of painters and polishers were the most unprofessional ones we've ever had. Actually all our rooms are suffering to some degree... there's paint dripping onto the glass of the windows, paint splatters on the bathroom mirrors, huge cracks and craters on the tilework next to the bath-tub where they tried to balance a stool of all things!... it just goes on and on. I don't think I'll be getting any work done to my house anytime soon.

    Oh Rachel, that was funny! I can jut imagine what you must've thought when you saw the 'giant' snake :D I bet it was so happy to be away from all that commotion finally.

    IHM, the poor thing was terrified(almost as much as me). It just kept flicking its tongue and trying to find a way out . A human barging into its dining room must've been the last thing it expected! :D

    Oh yes, all those things happen, Autumn Belle. Plus a totally unexpected, unexplainable exhiliration at the end, on being so close to a snake. Scoobie Doo? Hmmm... yes I think I did quite a good imitation of him :)

    Surprise is right, Jessica!Though 'shock' would've come closer to it ;)

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  15. OMG, It sure does look Scary! Once when we too came across a similar situation at home, we caught the snake and captured it in a ruck sack, so as to release it again amidst the greens away frm our neighborhood. It was the Gardener who came across the snake camouflaged n twirled ard a climbing wall Bougain ... Phew!

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  16. I say: You are brave but how you know it is rat snake? Knowledge appreciated.

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  17. I would have freaked out ! or passed out maybe.
    Do you know when I see a snake on TV, I curl up in my sofa.. don't put my feet down. You can imagine now.

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  18. The sight of a snake, harmless or otherwise, does send chills up one's spine. Glad you refrained from killing it though. It'll probably thank you by eating up that frog which would have eaten up a fly which would have bothered a good, friendly pest in your garden!

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  19. Radhika, the Rat Snakes are very good climbers. I've seen one right at the top of a coconut tree which was about 25-30 feet tall! (It was after a nest of baby crows).
    I'm glad you didn't kill the rat snake. It's quite helpful in keeping your garden pest-free.

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  20. Hobo, the rat snake looks very much like a cobra at a quick glance but here's what I look out for ... those black markings on its body especially near the tail, round wide eyes,those black lines near its mouth, plus its scales are closer together than that of the cobra. And if it's in motion, the rat snake has an almost frantic zig-zagging pace unlike the flowing movement of the cobra (I guess you'd know by now that I've watched a lot of snakes ;D )

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  21. Nisha, you'll be relieved to know that most of us have this inborn atavistic fear (thank you, Ms. Jean, for teaching me that phrase!) of snakes. Its not easy to explain just why we're so scared of them, is it?

    Oh yes, that chill was more like an iceblock, wannabegardener. Still, I keep telling myself that it could've been much worse. It could've been a cobra and with it barely 2 feet away and almost at waist-height THAT would've been really, really scary.

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  22. OH MY GOD! I'd have had a heart attack if I were you! Glad you're safe and so is he and hope he did get his meal later in your beautiful garden.

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  23. Yikes! How funny, several folks in Texas have posted about seeing rat snakes this week as well. You must have a nice habitat!

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  24. I'm sure he did, Chandramouli. Plenty of frogs in my garden.

    That's really funny, CG! Makes me think of those sms-initiated mass gatherings at random places that were such a trend sometime back :D
    I think this is the perfect habitat for them, CG. Lots of prey, lots of rocks and stuff to snuggle under, plus the people don't disturb them!

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  25. Honestly, that gave me a chill just looking at the photo. They probably were wondering where the heck they ended up. Thanks for visiting my blog...i didn't know about pruning tomatoes...new to me!

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  26. To think you could think of picking up the camera for that picture! Wow! You are a brave person. Harmless maybe, but I would have run for my life.

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  27. Imagine how I felt, Amy ! You said it ... they must've been so bewildered by that strange new terrain :)

    Radha, I think I'm glued to that camera :D
    No its got nothing to do with bravery but knowing how rarely I'll get a chance to click a rat snake up so close again. Next time I just might run too.

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