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Surprise Snake - a fine catch in Mineola, NY

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Posted by Glenn Bartley on May 25, 2002 at 08:06:33:

Last night, 5/24/02, just after dark my wife came into the living room and asked me if any of my snakes had escaped. I said I don't think so, and asked her why, kind of guessing the answer. Linda told me to come outside because there was a BIG snake out there. That was not exactly what I had expected - I figured one was loose in our basement. I rushed out the side door and saw a slim (not skinny) snake crawling along the side of our garage toward the front of the house. It stopped as I got closer, but it was too dark for me to make out what it was. Since, only a few nights before, I just had had a pretty bad dream (yes a nightmare) about a snake of about these proportions envenomating me (real bad dream for a herper) I decided to wait for a flashlight. You never know what type of hots the neighbors maybe keeping.

Brendan (my son), and Nelson (his friend) were out there watching what was going on with great interest. Brendan ran in to get flashlight and as luck would have it just before he got back it started to move away. Brendan got back in the nick of time with the light and I immediately saw it was a...... Brendan yelled out "Yellow Rat Snake". He was right on the money. He knew since we have kept them before. I made a grab for mid body as it crawled away and I missed coming up with the body just before the tail (I hate that). The snake simply turned and tried to bite - typical Yellow rat Snake. I hate to get bitten (even hated it before before the dream) and I had Brendan grab me something to pin it down (despite years of catching and keeping snakes I am a real wussy when it comes to getting bitten). It had gotten the front of its body into our garage through the space at the side of the garage door so I gave Brendan the back end to hold and went into the garage and grabbed the front end. I went quickly because I do not like anyone catching hold on the the tail end of a snake (tailing) when it can be avoided. I had a small pole Brendan had given me to fend off any bites but did not need it. I also put on some gloves Brendan grabbed in the garage - he knows I don't like to be bitten and he knows about Yellow Rat Snakes. Surprisingly enough it did not try to bite this time but sure looked ready; and if I had pissed it off I guess it would have. It is a nice snake, my guess is over three feet, not a lot of yellow, looks like about a 2 year old. Hmm was that one of mine. I thought not, but when I thought more I do remember having one that looked a lot like this last fall; and if my muddled middle aged memory serves me right it escaped in late September or early October. Well it spent the whole winter here in the north and apparently did well for it self. It was not dehydrated or skinny from the look of it. No apparent repiratory infections either. In fact it looked pretty well fed, and quite a bit longer than it was last fall. What surprised me was that it must have decided my garage or house was a good home territory, and it must have found a good spot to brumate. I was also surprised that it found enough to eat there over the last couple of warmer months, and did not feel the need to move on.

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