Dog Drama, More and Again
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Snakes on a Yellow House

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This morning I successfully shooed a tiny baby snake off my front porch with a snow shovel.

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This afternoon I successfully gazed upon a squirming heaving pile of tiny baby snakes without losing my shit. 

Really growing as a person, over here, guys. I predict full-scale capable adulthood by the age of 55. 

So I never told this story, as it seemed unwise to write about at the time, but a couple weeks before we listed the townhouse for sale, I was straightening up the basement (AKA OBSESSIVELY DECLUTTERING AND FAKE STAGING) and discovered a huge wet spot on one of the futons.

My first thought was CEIBA YOU ASSHOLE, until I felt something dripping on my head.

I looked up at the ceiling and the stucco-textured ceiling was wet, bulging, and actively dripping water.

HOUSE YOU ASSHOLE.

It was coming from the dishwasher, specifically (as discovered by the emergency plumber we immediately called in) from a plastic water reservoir that had been CHEWED THROUGH. BY MICE. 

Now, we had not seen any evidence of any mice since Jason's Great Ethical Catch & Release Crusade of 2010, which coincidentally ended around the same time I spotted a big-ass garter snake disappear under our neighbor's front steps. No poop, no late-night crunching from the cat food bowl, and of course, no walking into the kitchen to find Max patiently contemplating the mouse actively in his food bowl, eating his food right in front of him, like "it's okay, take your time, I'll eat after you've had enough."

So of course, OF COURSE, the mice decided to come back right after we decided to move. And destroy our dishwasher. And basement ceiling. And the tenuous final strands of my sanity. 

(Between the mice, squirrels, hornets nest and Open House Morning PLAGUE OF MYSTERY WASPS, I am seriously surprised we got out before the closets started bleeding.)

This time, I was not going to mess around and informed Jason that he was also not allowed to mess around; we were putting out kill traps and poison and I don't know, a plague of frogs with laser beams attached to their heads. 

Jason agreed, and we put (kid-and-pet-safe) poison stations outside and an array of peanut-butter-baited plastic snap traps under the dishwasher. I shoved steel wool into the new little chew-hole we discovered in the wall and just for kicks we put out one of the old humane traps out too, as a LET'S SEE WHO CHOOSES WISELY experiment. 

And then Jason promptly left for a week-long business trip. 

SNAP. SNAP SNAP. SNAP. All damn week, signalling another mouse's doom and another hideous corpse that I, Amy Corbett Storch, Not Yet A Capable Adult, had to personally deal with. (And not let any of the c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n see.)

The first mouse was a pretty obviously pregnant female. (I have consensus on that opinion from every unfortunate friend/frenemy whom I sent a picture to, accompanied by all-caps text-based screaming.)

Every mouse after that was a baby. 

:(

A few of the babies actually did end up in the humane trap, and I dutifully drove them a few miles away and provided a nice snack to local wildlife released them. 

By the time Jason got home we were no longer catching any mice inside or finding new poop under the appliances, a new water reservoir was installed in the dishwasher, and the basement ceiling dried, repaired and repainted. We pointedly left a couple snap and humane traps on the storage room shelves as bit of warning/disclosure, along with the balance of our pest service contract. 

(The previous owners of Yellow House did the same damn thing, minus the humane traps. We found a stash of old-school wooden traps and a bag o' mouse poison in the garage, because they likewise did not mess around.) 

So I guess, point is, I actually welcome our new tiny snake overlords and hope that at least one of them will not get eaten by the stupid birds that live in a nearby tree and fly into our front window a dozen times a day, and grow up to become our own personal mouse snap-trap. 

Just stay the fuck off my porch. 

Comments

sarah

Hi Amy!
This will NEVER happen again to you, but if it does happen to a friend of yours you can suggest putting the traps of the SNAP/glue variety into brown paper lunchbags. Tape them in, on the bottom, just in case. It makes for less traumatic removal (for the human).

liz

UGH

Stephanie

Um... What? You're happy about the snakes because it might mean no mice? No no no... I'd rather 100 mice living in my house than one snake. I don't like mice but snakes are a whole other level of terrible haha

Also an Amy

See, the snakes seem like a good thing until you bring a cardboard box in from the back deck and then discover an 18 inch long garter snake IN YOUR FAMILY ROOM. This happened to me last year and I discovered that when confronted with snakes, my fight or flight response is FIRMLY on flight.

Amy in StL

Hey, put a decal on the front window so the birds quit flying into it. My mom actually uses those gel cling things you buy at the dollar spot at Target. (Because 83 is the new 8 apparently) But it works.

Lindsay

"Frogs with laser beams attached to their heads" just made me laugh hard enough to wake the sleeping baby I'm holding. Thankfully he fell asleep again by the end of your post.

I know the mice are a bitch, but so are the snakes when they decide to crawl up to your kitchen on a Sunday morning, as I unpleasantly discovered last summer. The sucker was HUGE and it took us almost 6 months to catch it. I was a jumpy mess the whole time.

KImtoo

Maybe. But snakes don't leave poop all over your silverware. I am Team Snake all the way these days. Damn mice.

Cara Dobrev

We moved in and discovered the (previously vacant for several years) house had rats. Not mice. Full on rats. The rats are long gone, but I still have a standing policy that anyone who kills a non-venomous snake in my yard is banished. Dogs excepted, but only because I don't know how to explain to them. (My husband, who is tasked with the clean up really wishes they wouldn't, though.) Five years on, the snakes have all stayed outside and we've only had one further rat incident - caused by the perfect storm of major infrastructure construction near by and a plumber who failed to replace the screening over our access point.

Rachel

I have heard that keeping a plastic snake or two keeps real snakes away. (My in-laws have them around their pool.)

Amalah

I played it cool in this post but TOTALLY CRYING OVER THE BABBY SNAKES GUYS

Katy

Sorry to disappoint, but those lovely little buddies are brown snakes (Storeria dekayi). They are fully grown adults, and they eat garden pests such as slugs. They won't help you with the mouse problem but they are great to have around! Thanks for letting them be, they are an important part of the ecosystem.

xo, your friendly neighborhood herpetologist
(um, that is, a biologist who studies reptiles & amphibians)

Abby

I'm super terrified by snakes but incredibly impressed by Katy's comment.

blu_canary

Yup, Team Snake here, too!! When I was a kid, we had an amazing fox snake that lived in our crawlspace. He was HUGE. We had to urge him to sun himself on places other than our front sidewalk because otherwise our mailman was hesitant to bring up the mail, but the good news was we had no opossums in the crawlspace anymore. (Yes, he was big enough to eat small-ish opossums. But don't think about that too hard, m'kay?)

MamaKaren

I hate when mice wait for husbands leave town before going into traps. One went into the enclosed trap while my husband was on a golf trip in South Carolina. Its head popped the bait door, so its little rodent face was staring up at me when I picked up the trap to bag it. Ugh.

April

I don't mind snakes unless they're rattlers. Then they gotta go.

DB

Just FYI there is no rodent poison that is truly "pet-safe". Signed, your friendly local ER vet who's seen a LOT of pets over the years accidentally poisoned by "pet-safe" rodenticides.

Amy

I'm team nope for snakes and mice. I don't know I think I'd rather just get rid of the mice than deal with snakes. They freak me out.

Nicole Norman

Oh hell to the no. Team mice all the way. We live in the country and had TONS of mice in our previous house. We fought them, but it was a constant losing battle (when your house is surrounded by cornfields, then in the fall the corn goes away and it gets cold outside...). I would rather deal with that for 100 years than deal with snakes. Any and all snakes, even the tiny ones, die a quick and violent death at our house and I will never be sorry. They have no legs and they slither on the ground. They are of the devil. For sure.

julie

We have a big black rat snake living in the next door neighbor's attic. At least 6 foot long. Those suckers just slither up the downspout lickety split. The neighbors used to have squirrels in their attic. Welcome to the wilds of suburban HoCo Maryland. (We also have a neighborhood coyote, foxes, and barred owls.)

Secha

Like Julie, we have a 6 foot black king snake that lives in our back yard somewhere. When we first moved in, there were evidence of either very large mice or small rats. Within 6 months, we met Kingsly, as we have since named him, and welcomed him into our lives. No more sign of mice or rats anywhere near our house. Our neighbor freaks out any time she sees Kingsly, and I say I'd rather him than rats. She disagrees. But Kingsly makes himself scarce, and leaves his skin once a year as a "thank you" and to let us know he's still around. It makes for a great compromise.

Enna

Team snake! We had king snakes around our house growing up. Sometimes they got inside. No big deal - they are harmless, you can just catch them and fling them outside again. (My dad traumatized them by catching them and then urging all us kids to pet them before he let them go, which went a long way toward making me comfortable with snakes - though the poor wild snakes probably developed a lifelong horror of humans. One peed itself.)

As long as they aren't poisonous, snakes are way less dangerous than mice. In certain parts of the country, rodents still carry the honest-to-goodness bubonic plague (contagious through their fleas), and lots of them carry less scary but still awful diseases. As long as you wash your hands after touching a snake (salmonella risk), having them around won't make you sick, and they don't tear up your house and poop everywhere.

Melissa

Team Snake all the way. We had a big rat problem under an old shed and then one day we had about a 6 foot long rat snake on our back porch. After that, no more rats. I was more than happy to let him stay. He would sun himself on the porch right next to the dogs and all lived happily ever after. Except for the rats, I guess.

michelle b

I was a camp counselor for several summers, and awoke to a cabin full of middle school girls screaming their heads off. A large snake was slithering down the center of the cabin. I calmly got out of bed, put on my shoes, and grabbed a rake from the outside fire pit to use as a means of ushering the snake outside. The entire time I'm calmly assuring the girls that "It's nature! We're out in the woods! This is to be expected! Everything is going to be okay!" On the inside, I was freaking the f*ck out. The next day, I went into the cabin alone and found the same damn snake. I asked my unit leader what to do. He said "Kill it with your boot." That was the moment I lost it. Yah, he killed the snake.

We're All Named Amy

I love that you have already got comments from a vet and a herpetologist.

Seems to me that what you REALLY need, as these are vegetarian snakes, is a very young, very hungry cat.

Sorry to hear about Ceiba. :(

Rebecca

Team Bird: I second the advice on window clings!

Elizabeth

Perhaps it's just because I'm Australian, but I'm finding this post and the comments ... confusing. Do you mean your snakes are not life-endangeringly venomous? I mean, I'm not going to kill snakes if they're near our house, but I'm sure as hell going to be paying someone with some serous skills to take them far, far away.

Verbatim

Didn't you used to think you had a snake in the basement of Your old house? That's what I thought you were going to write about, how the snake jump scared you right before you moved! I am always looking for snakes in my basement now! Isn't it weird the effect you can have on a stranger's life through your writing? Lol.
I think you have a very enlightened snake philosophy!

Amy

Yes to the snakes, hell no to the mice! We've had a variety of critters in our house, including a small snake in the basement and most recently a flying squirrel. Fortunately, both were easy to send back into the wilds of East Tennessee.

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