Snake Scared

DSCF0044We are all tough and brave at our house until someone spots a snake. That’s when my fearless tough guys scream like girls and run terrified.

My boys are snake experts, they think. The first week of summer we checked out a book on reptiles so they could study different species. They devoured the book, memorizing sizes, scale designs, slither patterns and who know what else.

Then they started making big plans for tricks and traps. We went down to the local ponds and they put their designs to work.

My oldest and his friend built a trap out of old plastic wire. They dug a hole, put in the trap and filled it with sticky weeds and dead worms. They left it on the pond’s edge and we headed down the trail, watchful for snakes.

My boys wandered through the tall grass and plants near the trail scrambling to find a snake. They looked near logs. They looked near rocks. And they looked near a tiny pond we found in the middle of the trail.

They were ready. One of them wore a baseball helmet, the other a fake raccoon skin hat. Both slung packs over their shoulders with snake hunting equipment like -pocket knives and the reptile book – inside.

But no matter how ready they were, and no matter how much they wanted to spot a snake, they were disappointed when we left the ponds empty handed.

I secretly was thrilled. What were we going to do if we found one anyway?

While, we were about to find out. It ended up being a completely different experience than my oldest two boys imagined.

My husband and I were working in the yard when we heard frantic screams coming from the front of our house. Quickly my oldest ran to find us, shouting that he had found a snake in our front yard.

He was winded and he was terrified. Through his sobs, he could barely tell us what was going on. Based on all he had read in his reptile book, he was certain he had found a baby rattlesnake.

We ran to the snake-spotting site and found the small reptile curled under the green power box in the corner of our yard. My husband helped my boys and their two cousins crouch on the ground to see if they could snatch in from the box.

But none of the kids were reaching inside. They were still terrified that the baby rattler would get them.

DSCF0041I’ll never forget my boys and their cousins flat on their tummies scanning that electrical box for the snake. Occasionally one of them would scream and dart away, certain the snake was heading straight for them.

Thank heavens dad was home.

He pulled the snake out with a shovel and we tossed it in a big orange bucket. But it started snaking its way out.

DSCF0047That’s when my oldest son’s snake hunting instincts finally kicked in. He grabbed the slimy guy with his gloved hand and held it close to its head (so it couldn’t bite him;) ).

We didn’t keep it in a cage and feed it worms. We didn’t kill it. We didn’t do any of things my boys planned to do to a snake before that afternoon we went hunting at the ponds.

With the snake held proudly at arms length, my 8-year-old marched it down to the ponds and set it free.

Right before its release, my six-year-old mustered up enough courage to touch and hold the snake too. But no one else wanted anything to do with it.

We all cheered as it slowly slithered away.

So now we know what might really happen if we catch a snake at the ponds. We probably won’t toss it in a plastic wire cage. We probably won’t snatch it up with our bare hands. And you know we won’t go anywhere near it if it’s a rattlesnake.

I’m guessing we’ll all scramble the other way while screaming like little girls – my boys included.

Oh and for the record, our snake friend wasn’t a baby rattler – just a small garter.DSCF0056

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