It was the day of my son's spiderman birthday party. Matt had gone mushroom hunting with Bob and I was expecting people to start arriving in about 3 hours. I just needed to pick up a few things around the house before they got there. The Christmas decorations that had been sitting in the corner of my son's room since we took them down needed put in the attic. (It was April) The attic door is in Marlin's room. I pushed it open but something was in the way. Something was blocking the attic door from me opening it. How could something be in the way? When I shut the door nothing was there. The only way for something to be there, on the other side of the door was for it to have moved there itself! My heart started beating quickly. We had been finding LARGE snake skins in our attic for years. The spring before this Matt had found a huge snake outside our house and we had decided that it was the giant that had been living in our attic. We released it in the woods far away from our home and all was well. We hadn't found a snake skin in the attic all year. But now, there was something in front of the door.
I slowly pushed the door open and peeked around the door. There is was, the black rat snake that lived in our attic. It was all coiled up. My first reaction was to call Matt. Then I remembered that he was in the woods and by the time he would get back it would be gone. My next idea was to shut the door and pretend that never happened. If I did that, then I would KNOW that it was still in the attic and it could end up in Marlin's room someday. I was going to have to catch it myself.
A little background...this was not the first black rat snake I would have to handle. I had given hundreds of reptile programs as a naturalist at Turkey Run State Park and at the Calusa Nature Center where I had worked. I had lectured endless numbers of people about how harmless these snakes were and how there was nothing to worry about. I knew how to handle the snake and what to do. I DID NOT WANT TO TOUCH THIS SNAKE.
Matt's mom was downstairs in the kitchen preparing the food for the party. If she knew what was going on she would run back to Kentucky before Bob could even get the truck started. I needed something. Something I could use to catch the snake. I calmly walked through the house, through the kitchen looking for the perfect tool. I found Marlin's nerf sword in the laundry room and brought it upstairs. I opened the attic door and put the sword on the head of the snake so it couldn't strike. Then I picked it up behind the head and walked downstairs. Alivia met me at the bottom of the stairs and her eyes became as large as saucers. "Open the door before Granny sees this" I said as I held the 6 foot long snake in my hands. Alivia opened the door and then ran into the kitchen to tell Granny what was going on. Granny looked through the window and I could hear her from inside the house yelling "Where did you get that thing?".
I took the snake way out into the woods and set it free. The lesson to be learned is put away your Christmas decorations before it is warm enough for the snakes to be out in the attic.