They’re Our Friends. Really.

They’re our friends. Really.

I pulled into my garage and stopped in the same spot where I always park. The car was a little too close to the left wall but I decided to squeeze myself out the driver door rather than bother with a do-over. I opened the door about fourteen inches, grabbed my purse from the seat beside me and swiveled to step out.

I caught myself just in the nick of time.

Coiled in the spot where my foot would have landed was a snake. A long, thick-bodied black snake. I’ll interrupt this harrowing tale to say that this wasn’t my first experience with snakes. For 25 years I lived on a farm filled with barns and sheds, which naturally appeal to snakes. I’ve written several columns about snakes for this newspaper. I’ve also developed a habit of never putting my hands, feet, or rear end anywhere I haven’t scoped out first.

But I must confess that this snake startled me. I didn’t scream but I did say YIKES more loudly that I’d like to admit.  I pulled my foot back into the car and slammed the door. Then I scrambled over the gear shift and parking brake and exited the car from the passenger side.

What to do next?

The logical thing was to leave the garage door open and let the snake slither out in its own good time. Yeah, but. My yard and sometimes even my garage and screened porch are overrun with squirrels. Squirrels that build their nests in the eaves and chew on electric wires and try their darndest to raid the critter-proof container where I store birdseed. No telling how many of the little varmints would make themselves at home if I left the garage door open.

I figured I could encourage the snake out with a broom if I moved the car out of the way. But what if I ran over him while backing out of the garage? Then I’d have to deal with a bloody dead snake. Besides, it’s downright wrong to kill a snake that’s doing no harm.

This visitor was probably a king snake. They’re useful because they feed on rodents, particularly rats and mice. They’ve even been known to eat squirrels. They’re resistant to the venom of pit vipers so they’re good to have around because they keep copperheads and rattlesnakes at bay.

King snakes are so gentle and easy to tame that they’re often kept as pets.

I took the push broom off its hook, squeezed myself between the car and the wall once again and tried to encourage the snake to move along. He wouldn’t budge. So I left the garage door open and went in the house. When I checked back a couple of hours later, there was no sign of Mr. Snake.

I can only hope he had a tasty lunch of raw squirrel before making his way into the woods.

(May 12, 2019)