Real-life stories: The dangers of suburban wildlife

Cottage garden house in suburbia

Cottage garden house. Not mine, but oh, how I wish. Image courtesy of clconroy, Morguefile.

I’ve lived in suburban neighborhoods for most of my life. I’ve encountered the usual hazards such as hail, heavy snow, torrential rain, high winds, loose gravel, broken branches in the road, bird strikes against windows, mud and lightning. When I lived in the Shenandoah Valley, a lightning bolt once hit the ground next to the house during a rainstorm. It sounded like a cannon going off and I swear I must’ve jumped three feet into the air.

But it’s suburban wildlife that gets me. I’ve told you about my adventures with Skunkzilla and Houdini the master escape artist squirrel (read about them here if you’ve recently joined us), but I should probably mention the other hazards of suburban wildlife to warn all the others out there. I’m talking about my two snake stories.

In one home, my sibling had a bedroom in the basement.  I was tidying up the kitchen one day and walked downstairs to my sib’s bedroom to put some books and a watch on a desk. I saw a rubber snake lying on the desk near the lamp, so I put the items I was carrying next to it and went back up the stairs to finish cleaning. Later, I went downstairs again to take some more stuff down there and noticed one important change.

There was no snake on the desk. 

It took about two seconds for it to sink in: That was NO RUBBER SNAKE. I shut the bedroom door and ran upstairs to my other sib. “What do we do?” We fearfully crept downstairs and slowly, cautiously opened the door. Something slithered down the other side of the door (guess who?), so we shut it, hastily stuffed a rug over the bottom of the door and had another person come to the rescue later.

(I should mention that the snake was a poisonous copperhead. And I put my hand right next to it. Can we say “Ignorance is bliss”?)

As for story #2, it occurred in my present home. I opened an outside door and a baby black snake decided to come in for a visit. I was not happy about the unexpected guest, so I grabbed a nearby broom and tried to sweep him back out again.

He was a sociable little guy. The more I swept to push him out, the more he wiggled and wanted to come in. Luckily for me, my British friend H. was staying with me at the time. H. is a resourceful person, so she grabbed a flyswatter, shoved it under the baby snake and tossed him upward and outside.

The baby snake flew in an almost-perfect arc through the air and slammed down onto the deck. He laid there shaking his head and I could practically hear him thinking, “What the heck? What just happened?” After a short while, the baby snake decided to go visit somebody else and disappeared, to our relief.

Suburbia: You can always count on the local wildlife to keep things lively.





Filed under Writing

24 responses to “Real-life stories: The dangers of suburban wildlife

  1. Yikes! A poisonous copperhead. Ignorance IS bliss. Glad you lived to tell the tale.

  2. At Casa Debbio we have lots of wildlife. There are wild goats, deer, porcupines, cinghiale, squirrels and in summer, scorpions. I love the goats and deer, except when they eat my plants. I haven’t seen porcupines or wild boar, except our neighbour’s pet and I am not happy at all about the scorpions. The snakes around here are mostly harmless. I can hear woodpeckers, but I can’t see them in the trees.

  3. In our area we get coyote and fox visitors along with your run of the mill raccoons, squirrels and possums. Nearby some baby bear cub comes to visit every year both terrifying and tantalizing the neighborhood. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your tolerance) we have never seen them. I am not a snake fan and since I have a pond, I really don’t want them here. (They eat fish.) So far (11 years) I haven’t seen any.

  4. travelrat

    My relatives in Australia are always posting pictures of stuff that comes into their garden. Latest was a carpet snake:

    ‘It’s okay; it’s not poisonous!’
    ‘Errr … where’s the cat?’

    (Enrico had, wisely, taken refuge in the garage, but they did have a few anxious moments)

  5. This is hilarious—I love how you alternate between having nerves of steel (automatically assuming that it was a rubber snake and thus not even flinching when you first saw the VENOMOUS COPPERHEAD) and freaking out. I love snakes, but I probably would have jumped at finding one–rubber or otherwise–on a desk surface. I feel bad for the baby one, though. I hope he didn’t sustain any damage to his many, many vertebrae.

  6. Why I love winter? No snakes! We had one on the porch – and I mentioned it to warn people to go out the back until it was removed…of course husband said “what?” and opened the front door. Of course the copperhead came right on inside. Set off a frantic dance…Never tell a city boy there’s a snake on the porch.
    Can so identify with this post!

  7. Oh good lord. I would have died a thousand deaths. I had to do battle with an alligator lizard in our house. It took 20 minutes for me to get him out. I’m afraid I mortally wounded him in the procedure. I feel bad about that to this day. Poor guy.

  8. Eek, that rubber snake story is hilarious and terrifying at the same time! The closest thing I had to that was when I picked up what I thought was a clump of tumble drier lint from my dining room floor and it was a decapitated mouse, hehe. The other funny thing is that when I was reading through your story, I was thinking to myself how glad I am to be in England and to not have to deal with things like this, and then it turns out it was your British friend who dealt with it!

  9. Those copperheads are awfully scary. I was hunting ferns years ago and nearly stepped on one. Fortunately, they are shy. He went his way and I went mine.

    As for suburban life, here, five minutes from the White House, I have seen hawks, eagles, owls, fox, coyotes and many rabbits hunted by the former. Also raccoons, foxes, and skunk. You can keep the bears and deer please.

  10. These make such funny stories, in hindsight!

  11. Oh my word! So glad you were okay, both times. At my last house, we were often frequented by wild turkeys. I heard so many stories from the mailman of turkey attacks! And to think before I heard the stories I’d let my kids walk over as close as they could get, so excited to see the giant birds. Ahh… suburbia.


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