Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Midnight Snake Hunt

It was just after midnight when the call came in from the police. A young couple reported a snake of about 10ft length in their garden. The ambulance/collection driver took one look at the message and said something along the lines of good for them nothing to do with me!.

Possibly because l grew up in Africa, or more likely just cause l am a bit weird l like snakes. I told him if the vet was willing for me to go out with him would that be ok. The vet agreed, not that he had a choice under the circumstances, someone had to catch it.

I collected an old duvet cover and pillowcase as holding bags, and we set off. The house was in a maze of back streets and took a bit of finding. The night was cold, wet and windy. Not the sort of night to squelch about after snakes.
“Any torches” l asked as l got out the van, the snort of laughter from the driver reminded me not to ask such daft questions. Any torches that may have been about were long since dead of batteries, or broken.

I rang the doorbell and a young lass in her early 20s came to the door.
“Your snake?” l enquired.
“Ahh yes through here” she said leading us to the kitchen the driver staying firmly at the rear.
A lad of similar age was just tucking into his evening meal, a bit late l felt, but then l like an early evening meal, each to their own.
He stood up to take over. “I put a dust bin upside down over the top of it to keep it secure” he informed us.

We went out to the back. About 10 feet from the back door, down a short flight of steps, was the bin, placed as said.
l looked out at the pitch black yard and then up at the light. “Any chance of you putting that on?”
No, it doesn’t work, but l have this” he nipped to the table, came back, and handing me a tiny keyring light that made an anaemic firefly look like a searchlight. If l took my finger off the button it went out.
Then he and the driver huddled on the top step, ready to show their metal as the male of the species… and run like hell the moment they saw the snake.

Oh great l walked over to the dustbin. Tipped it slightly and shone my light under it, nothing. I tried to angle the beam up in case this 10ft snake was up there, no.
Behind me the young lad screeched “there there”
I glanced back to see where he was pointing as it had obviously escaped. “Where?”
“There by your foot he yelled back”
I bent down and glared at the mark on the floor. From about 1 foot away l could just make out a drowned worm. “Do you mean this dead 3inch worm?” l asked hanging the little body over my finger.
“Yes yes that’s it….…errr worm?” he asked looking at me.
“Yup l don’t think we can do a lot for him l will just sling him back into your garden if that’s ok by you.” I did not wait for a reply just flipped it into a flowerbed,

We walked back into the house and he sat down trying not to look embarrassed. I was impressed the driver and l managed to keep a totally straight face out of the house and into the van. Then we collapsed hysterically.

To round off the night we decided to ring the practice. The vet answered. I told him it was a highly venomous cobra, I caught it but it had bitten me.
We were heading fast as possible for the hospital, the driver would then drop the snake off back at work for them to sort.
There was a stunned silence, then OMG and a cuss, more voices as he told the others what had happened and more OMG’s could be heard and stronger words.
Unfortunately the driver and l had another fit of giggles and gave the game away. For some reason none of them back at work were amused, no sense of humour some people.

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