Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if you only try !

- Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Snake, The Barbecue Tongs and Me

Let me start by saying that I hate snakes.  The only thing I fear more than snakes are spiders.  Both are equally terrifying but the spiders' creepy legs place them just a little higher on the hate meter for me.  The funny thing about this is that I inherited a snake from my daughter when she went off to college.  It is a corn snake and I guess at one time when she (the snake) lived at my ex's house, she was just a wee little baby snake.  Now she lives in my office in an aquarium and she is at least three feet long.  No, she is not cute no matter what my daughter says.  I don't even know if she is female, but it seems to help me deal with the situation better, knowing that surely a female snake is more loving and less likely to kill me than a male snake.   I have never touched her.  When it comes time for her weekly feeding of a thawed out previously frozen little white mouse, I have come up with a system.   

This is how it typically goes:  I remove one of the gross little white mice from its' box in our freezer, wondering to myself, how do they manufacture these little dead mice?  I also wonder, what if we have guests over and they see the little box of frozen dead mice in our freezer?  Will they think that we eat them?  Anyway, I put it in a cup of warm water to thaw it out to just the right temperature so the snake won't choke to death on it.  I approach the aquarium oh so quietly and sneakily.  If I see the snake is laying in the aquarium with its' head pointed the other direction I quickly remove the cover, dangle and then drop the mouse in, and slap the cover shut.  Then I tap my fingers on the glass near the mouse air drop location so that the snake, who seems to be incredibly stupid and blind, realizes that there is a mouse there.  Sometimes it takes the snake half an hour to realize it.   I think if this particular snake had to fend for itself in the wild, she would have been dead long ago.  

Today the snake threw a kink into my whole system.   First of all, she was very active, which scares the crap out of me.  She was obviously hungry and waiting to strike her prey.  Since she is blind and not the brightest snake in the jungle, this meant that if I stuck my hand in there even for a moment to drop the mouse, she might leap at it in error and cause me to have a heart attack.  I've actually been told that she doesn't have much in the way of teeth and is nonpoisonous, but that doesn't help calm me.    Anything leaping towards me in the form of a serpent is going to be traumatic and a life-changing event for me. 

So, I get the bright idea to get the barbecue tongs from the kitchen and dangle the mouse into the aquarium with them.  I strategically line the little mouse tail up in the grasp of the tongs.  Then I realize that it's very difficult to remove the cover of the aquarium with one hand... in fact, it's impossible.  So, I set the tongs down momentarily to get the cover off.   As soon as the snake hears the cover move, she starts lifting her head towards the top.   I freak out of course, and slam the cover shut.  Just about the same time, I bump the tongs with my arm and the mouse drops onto my yellow lab, who is laying underfoot because he has to be in the middle of all of the action.  The mouse lands on the dog's back.  As he reaches around to grab it in his mouth, I scream at him, 'DON'T EAT THAT!"  As he scrurries away from me and looks at me with that dog look of "What's wrong with her and what did I do wrong?"  I pick the mouse up by the tail.  I look at it.  The mouse is now covered in yellow dog hair. 

Even I know that dog hair is probably not good for a snake's diet, so now I have to go to the sink and rinse the little mouse off.  I feel like I am torturing it, even though it's been dead for quite awhile.  I start thinking about poor little Mickey Mouse and what I am doing to his relative all for the sake of this damn snake that I don't even like.  

I run back up the stairs holding the mouse by the tail, eager to get this escapade over with.  I look at where the snake is, and she is facing one side of the aquarium.  I whip the cover off of the tank, drop little Mickey's cousin in, and manage to get the cover shut in one fluid motion.   She slinks her way over to the site of the mouse drop and she devours him.  I think she imagines that she is one tough snake and an expert hunter.  She eats the poor little mouse that I have done all the work to provide her with, and curls up under her warm snake light.  She is pretty proud of herself I believe.

I'm off to clean the barbecue tongs.