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Garter snake

Snakes! You know, those slithery long critters that make most folks cringe with fear when they see one. Well, this evening, after my night class, I came home and was immediately told by Cheryl that there was a snake in the garage, caught in a bug trap our bug control folks left there. I am not a fan of those traps, because they catch things other than bugs, like Texas Chameleons, small mice, and SNAKES!

I went back out to the garage, and sure enough, there was a garter snake, totally harmless, stuck in the trap. The bad thing was that he had his tail stuck in the trap, and his body was wrapped around the leg of a cabinet we store garden supplies in, and then his head was stuck in the same trap. There was no way to lift that cabinet to get that mess out, except to cut the snake in half.

Not good.

I gently pushed on the trap to see what else was in there, and the snake started wiggling around. He was still alive!

But the prognosis was not good. Normally, when critters get stuck in these things, they just sit there until they die. I probably do not get bothered if that critter is a bug, but this was not a bug.

And Cheryl was very upset at the prospect of leaving this poor creature struggling there until it died. That could take days!. We said a prayer for the snake's poor life, and that was it. The snake would be a goner, and we would figure out how to get him out of there (well, I would figure that out), after his demise.

Sad way to end the first week of school!

Google

On a whim, I decided to google "snake trapped in bug trap". Surely, I am not the first one to encounter this. I found several web sites where the authors were hotly telling everyone how evil these traps are. (I agree with that!). Then I found one that said the situation was not as dire as you might think. If you take vegetable oil and coat the snake with it, the glue will loosen. Then you take something like a plastic knife, which I had, conveniently, right inside the door from our garage, you could lift the snake away from the trap.

Sounded like it was worth a try!

Pam!

I found a spray can of Pam in the kitchen, got the plastic knife and headed back to the snake. He was pretty calm now, but as soon as I giggled the trap, he started squirming again. A close inspection of the trap, which was a cardboard box with both ends open and the inside coated in glue, showed a seam along the bottom of the box. The knife showed me that I could pry that seam apart and open up the box into something flat.

I did this and found out why the snake got interested in the trap in the first place. There were tons of bugs in there, along with a couple of geckos, long dead. It was ugly.

I could see the snakes head, and he was quite alert, his tail was alongside his head after wrapping around the cabinet leg. There was maybe six inches at each end of his two foot body stuck in the glue. The rest of him was just fine.

I sprayed his tail with Pam, and set off to see if I could loosen him from the glue. Wonder of wonders, it worked!. He did not come loose easily, but after a couple of minutes of him squirming, and me prying gently with the knife, his tail came loose from the trap!

Yeah!

His tail whipped around the leg, and he grabbed hold of that leg and held on. I was trying to move him away from the cabinet, but he was not going to cooperate. Finally, my trusty knife pried his tail off of the leg, and all of us, trap, snake, Pam, and knife, moved to the center of the garage!

Step one complete! There was hope for this poor critter.

Head Games

The head was a bit tougher. He was stuck pretty hard up there. However, his tongue was still sniffing around, so I knew he was not hurt much, just stuck. I used some shop scissors to cut away as much of the trap as I could leaving about a 4x2 inch rectangle with his head firmly attached to that!

It seemed close to time for him to shed his skin, because there was evidence of some scales loose in the glue near his body. I sprayed his body as far from his head as possible, and started working on getting it loose. The knife succeeded in getting him loose a bit, and he cooperated by squirming enough that I knew it was free.

A bit more spray closer to his head, and he knew he was coming loose. He struggled more, and managed to twist his head sideways a bit. He was still stuck, but we were getting close. A bit more spray, and he was loose!

Note: A Pam coated garter snake is pretty slippery, to say the least. He took off like a shot, right back under that durned cabinet. I looked under there with a flashlight (it was late at night by now) and there was a second trap under there!

Great, out of one fire and into another.

Except, he wanted to get away from the flashlight, so I shined it on him, and he turned away from the second trap. I pulled that one out, and immediately put both into the trash!

Then I looked for the snake again, and he was resting under the cabinet. A little flashlight work, and he moved along the wall to the garage door.

I might have ended this by opening the door and sending him on his way, but I wanted him as far from the house as I could get him, so I opened the garage door, and flashlighted (I doubt that is even a word!) him along the wall, out the door, and along the house.

End Games

The adventure did not end there.

This silly snake wanted back in the garage! Every time I turned the light off of him, he spun around and headed back toward the garage,

Braaaaap, No way!

I would whip the light back on and he spun around and headed in the right direction. We played this game about six times, and I decided I had enough. It took three tries, but I finally managed to pick him up by his slippery, oil coated tail and carry him away from my house, and turned him loose headed toward a neighbors yard.

Good Luck, little snakey. I hope you learned a lesson!

The End

During this adventure, Cheryl opened the garage door to see what I was doing. I know she had thoughts of me doing the snake in to get him out of the garage, so I told her to go back inside while I worked through this experiment. If it did not work, I did not want her seeing the result. At that time, I had no idea if I would succeed or not.

When I came back in and told her the results of this story, she was quite releived. It was only a snake, but it was a living creature, minding its own business, and it got stuck in something we caused. I felt obligated to at least try to save it, and succeeded!

After fighting cancer for the last almost ten years, I do not take life for granted. Even that snake deserved a chance to enjoy his life.

And I gave his life back to him today.

If I can stop shaking from the adrenalin rush of this epic struggle, I may sleep well knowing what I managed to do.

I know Cheryl will!

I wonder if he was really a she. Hmmm!

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