Aug 31, 2009

Snakes Today, Mice Back Then

The discussion of snakes came up recently when a friend who lives down south was saying how she had woken up one morning a week or so back to find a very large snake in her house trying to figure out a way to get up to her caged birds for a free breakfast. She freaked (as most normal people would) and called for her husband who promptly came and killed the snake. Disaster averted.

I was of two minds when she told me this. First, that while not afraid of snakes per se, I would be startled and upset to see one in my house trying to eat my pets so I was sympathetic to her plight, but I also felt really bad for the snake and I told her so. I said that I don't think I would have reacted so hastily when it came to killing it and suggested that perhaps next time she might consider sparing the snake's life and relocating it far enough away from her home to ensure it wouldn't come back at mealtime. Her response to this was that as she and her family live where there is a plethora of highly poisonous snakes and other reptiles, many of which look just like non-poisonous snakes and reptiles, they don't bother to wait and see if Mr. Snake is going to turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy. They shoot and ask questions later. And while I do understand the need to protect yourself and your loved ones, I still feel bad for the snake. And this story reminded me of my own indoor critter issue.

Many, many moons ago, back in the mid-80s when David and I were living in our first apartment, we had a bit of a mouse problem. We lived in a small but sweet apartment on the top floor of a big old Victorian house directly above an elderly lady (who also lived directly above another old lady) both of who kept their heat jacked to the max all winter. This was nice because we never had to turn our own heat on at all, which was great for our budget, but bad because we ended up with bloody noses that lasted for months due to our scorchingly dry home atop all those ancient heat-seekers and we tended to draw in all the rodents who in the deep freeze of winter were looking for a place to thaw their itsy bitsy bones for a spell. Our bedroom rug, positioned in front of the radiator, was the favorite haunt for countless chilly little field mice. There would be many mice there, laying before the warmth day and night, and fearing our cats would kill them we spent a great deal of time removing the little cuties from our home and carrying them off to safety.

I have to admit that whenever we had to catch a new batch of mice to relocate them, I would often let them go again, just to see them scamper off and up a curtain or to zip off down the hallway. But catch them we did and on the colder nights David would bring the mice down to the river, a good mile or so from our place, and there he would let them go. He was always very careful to be sure they were well covered with leaves and within the low bushes to help fend off the chill, and I always grilled him to death when he'd come back to be sure he was as careful as possible to help them survive in the bitter cold. And then the next day, there would be more mice paying our almost too cozy home a visit. The other tenants thought us insane to not just put mouse traps down as our landlord had done all over that antique house, but instead we kept bringing the little ones out to a place they could safey call home, but far away from our own house. And as we came and went, we'd also trip the traps left by the landlord and then throw them away in our trash before any mice were killed in them.

So if I lived where my friend lives and I found a snake in my house I'm not sure what I'd do, given the chance that it could be something deadly, but as I live where a garter snake is about the most dangerous cold-blooded thing in my yard, I'm pretty sure I'd be bagging it up and taking it back outside where it belongs. And I probably wouldn't let it go again for a laugh just to see it slithering cutely down my hallway before I did that.

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