Max was worried about lizards. Little did we know!
Yesterday, I was on the phone with the girl from the radiology lab and went out to the garage to get something from my car. As soon as I entered the garage, I saw a snake between our two cars. I yelped into the phone, “There’s a snake in my garage, I’ll have to call you back.” The girl from the radiology lab was suitably impressed and agreed that dealing with the snake took precedence over retrieving my mother’s Medicare number. During this exchange, the snake was quickly slithering to a hiding place beneath Max’s car. I yelled for Max to get his car keys and come help me. He came, but without his keys, to see what the problem was. He didn’t seem too keen to get into his car with the snake underneath it. I opened the garage door, in the hopes that the sweet smell of freedom would entice the snake out of my living space. I grabbed a broom and tried to roust the snake from its position. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see beneath the car and move the broom at the same time, so all I succeeded in doing was chasing the snake back towards the door to the house instead of towards the garage door.
The snake was huge and menacing. Well, at least to me, he was huge and menacing. To be clear, it was a tiny little garter snake and no real danger to anyone or anything. Still, it freaked me out to have it in my garage.
After fleeing from beneath the car, he coiled in a corner behind a bookshelf. We tried spraying him with a number of substances and trying to push him closer to the garage door, but he pretty much stayed put in a fairly inaccessible corner behind the heavy bookshelf. We’d get him to move down a few inches and then he’d pop back into the corner. Then, he disappeared. I have no idea where he went. It was eerie. Now you see him; now you don’t.
Since we had proven to be inept at snake removal, I decided to call in a professional. Never having needed a critter exclusion company (yes, that is what they are called) before, I was at a loss. I tried calling our pest control company. Their definition of “pest” was fairly limited. Apparently, in their lexicon, a snake is not a pest. Who knew? They explained that snakes are so fast and furtive, it is usually impossible to find them if you don’t have eyes on them all the time. They did recommend another company whose technicians apparently sit by the phone waiting for critter calls and drop everything to save the day when someone calls for service. In my mind, the whole operation sounds like a scene from Ghostbusters. At any rate, they rush to your home because they, too, believe that there is little or no chance of finding the snake after about an hour or so. News flash… you pay whether they find the snake or not. Color me not surprised.
The technician came and he was very nice. There were a lot of “yes ma’am’s” going on. He carried a long, heavy pair of tongs (which I am sure would have been overkill if he had, in fact, actually found the snake). He did pretty much what we had already done, except for the panicking part. He kicked around everything in the garage. He peered behind things with a flashlight. No snake. Our technician could not even theorize about where the snake could have gone. He refuted all the possibilities I mentioned. He was marginally reassuring in that he confirmed that it had to be just a little garter snake and would find its way out when it was hungry or thirsty, if he had not already vacated the premises. The technician looked at the garage door and identified a couple of places where the door didn’t absolutely reach the floor of the garage. They were tiny, itsy bitsy holes, but he theorized that the snake might have entered through these points. He suggested we get a garage door guy to come in and fix the seal and he put down some sticky snake traps.
That night, I did not sleep much. I left the light on because I could not rid my mind of the idea that the garter snake was going to somehow get into the house, wind his way back to my bedroom, and wiggle up onto my bed. The technician assured us that the snake could not climb more than about four inches, but I’m a skeptic.
The next morning, when I tentatively entered the garage to get into my car, I saw that there was a “mass o’ snake” on one of the traps. Truth be told, it didn’t look exactly like the snake I saw the day before, but I rationalized that it might be just that this snake seemed to be upside down and the belly might have been a different color than the topside I saw as it slithered around. Seeing the snake on the trap, I assumed it was an ex-snake, dead from the combination of stuff we sprayed on him and the trauma of being unable to extricate itself from the trap. Later, though, Max went out and saw that there were actually two snakes on the trap and they were alive and kicking. He tried to dispose of them with a rake, but they headed in different directions. He was able to kill one and the other dispatched into the front lawn.
Many of you are probably horrified that we were trying to kill the snakes. I know, I know. They are harmless. They are good for the environment. They were there before people were. I get all that. I just don’t want to live with them. Once they encroach into my living space, it is war! First, anyone living in my home except me should be paying rent. Secondly, I have a finely tuned startle reflex. I can barely handle the phone ringing unexpectedly without jumping. The random sight of wiggling snakes does nothing good for my blood pressure. Those snakes creep me out.
The garage door guy came yesterday and fixed the door. It would seem that there are no more access points. I prayed vigorously for the intervention of St. Patrick, who I am assuming must be the patron saint of snake removal. We have had no more snake sightings since then. However, I still can’t let it go. I’m hoping that a few more snakeless days will reduce the adrenaline and cortisol rushing continuously through my body. In the meantime, I’m sleeping with a rolled up towel under my bedroom door!
Anyone else have any critter exclusion stories to share? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, here’s hoping for a reptile-free day for all of us!