Boas in the Bahamas

“Dave, can you come here NOW? There’s a snake in our living room.”

It’s a testament to my years on Eleuthera that I wasn’t screaming and running for cover when I saw the 3ft snake that had slithered into the living room via an open sliding glass door.

Before moving to the island, I was petrified of snakes. My fear stemmed from a childhood incident, either real or imagined, in which a snake dropped from a tree into my bicycle basket. After that, I wouldn’t even get close to snakes enclosed in glass at zoos.

snake fear meme

But living in the tropics means I have to co-exist with lots of critters – spiders, money bats, scorpions, millipedes, mice, termites, and tree frogs. Snakes, however, are among my least favorite neighbors.

Only two kinds of snakes inhabit our island – brown racers and boa constrictors (YES!). Neither is poisonous; that’s the good news. The boas – commonly called chicken snakes – can devour rodents and can grow to be as long as the highway is wide. One story – probably apocryphal – was that a boa ate a visitor’s small dog.

Bahamians don’t like snakes and will kill them on sight, even though boas are considered endangered. My husband Dave tells the gardeners not to kill the snakes. He insists he’d rather have snakes in the yard than rats in the house.

That would be fine IF the darn snakes stayed outside. Why, with acres of prime hunting grounds, would a snake want to come visit us INSIDE?

boa in house bahamas

One summer evening, Dave was ensconced in the den with the air-conditioning on and the door closed between the den to the dining room and kitchen. When he opened the door, he found a snake in the dining room.

My friend Sue found a snake beneath her dining room table… during a dinner party. I don’t think anyone stayed for dessert.

Recently, I was on our screened porch talking to my grandsons on Skype. I looked down and a 4ft boa was stretched out beside my right foot. I yelped, grabbed the computer, and ran into the house. Dave donned an oven mitt, picked up the snake, and tossed him (or her) outside.

Almost everyone on the island has his/her own snake story. Friends Mark and Missy were sleeping in a small shed while their home was being built. Mark woke up one night to find himself snuggling not with Missy but with a boa as big around as a body pillow. Nibbling his neck, no less.

After the boa scared me on the porch, I mentioned it to our next door neighbor Melanie, who was staying alone until her husband returned to Eleuthera.

Less than a week later, she picked up a pillow on her guest bed. Beneath it was a 4ft boa, coiled up and happily napping.

She ran over to get Dave aka “The Snake Whisperer.” He grabbed the handy oven mitt, went over to Melanie’s, and carried the snake – now wrapped around his arm – outside.

I’m pretty sure the oven mitt manufacturers don’t list “snake removal” among the recommended uses of their product. But it works for us.

And yes, I wash our oven mitts quite often.

eleuthera beach

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Kay Tucker Addis

About Kay Tucker Addis

"Why can't you live in Alaska?"

That's what Kay's dermatologist asks her with annoying regularity. But despite removal of at least a dozen skin cancers (and half her bottom lip), Kay and her husband continue to live on Eleuthera, where the Bahamian government promises 300 days of sunshine a year.

Kay loves the tranquility of her island home, even though she rarely has electricity, water, phone, and cable at the same time. Three out of four is a good day indeed. (Maybe she shouldn't even count the phone; sometimes weeks can go by before she makes or receives a call.)

She goes to great lengths to avoid inside chores like cleaning or cooking. So she works in the yard, washes windows, and paints while her husband does the grocery shopping and food prep. The role reversal works nicely, even though it confounds some of their Bahamian friends.

Driving a poppy-red pick-up, sporting work boots, and wielding a machete, Kay often hunts in the bush for native plants. She's a little more careful these days, after having been caught on video camera "tiefing" (uh, stealing) plants from the yard of a home she thought was abandoned.

Gardening is her passion (aside from three grandsons stateside), but for fun she's also been known to watch ants and converse with her pet curly-tailed lizard, who stops by the screened porch every morning for his share of her granola bar.

(And she isn't sun-stupid. Despite residing on a pink sand Atlantic beach, she does appease her doctor by wearing a perpetual coating of SPF 60 sunscreen.)

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15 thoughts on “Boas in the Bahamas

  1. I live in Nassau in a third story apt and I would DIE (at least move) if there were snakes here. I am sure there are plenty in the bush. Living high has helped me avoid centipedes, millipedes,roaches, frogs, spiders. I think I will stay put. LOL

    • Oops, think my reply ended up in the wrong place. Good for you, I said. You have the best of island life, without the critters. And I bet you have a killer view!

  2. Long Island has the Bahamian Boas as well …. they hang around when a cat is ready to deliver kittens…..real nature !

    • Yikes! We lost our “pet” gecko Curly a few weeks ago when a cat, never seen before or since, sneaked up on him, grabbed him in its mouth, and off he went. Another version of nature!

  3. I love snakes. Not sure where the fear of them comes from especially on Eleuthera where they will not hurt you. We had a big beauty living behind the refrigerator in our garage. He would sometimes come out and drape over the dryer. Unfortunately in spite of all my attempts to not have him killed, he was. Now we are dealing with rats in the house! Give me a boa in the house anytime over rats in my house!

    • Yeah, know what you mean, Lynne.
      One night a rat got caught in a trap and was going berserk in the kitchen, dragging the trap all over and making a racket. Dave finally pulled out his pellet gun and shot the thing. He did the same thing on the porch one night. My question: How many holes did you put in our screens?

    • Hi, Brown and Linda! Yes, for the past 8-9 years, it’s been about 8 months on Eleuthera, 4 months in Charleston, but in short intervals.

  4. Good for you — getting the best of island life without some of the critters that come with it!
    Bet you have a great view, too!

  5. I heard the Mark and Missy story from Missy years ago and have always remembered that one! It certainly motivated them to finish the house!!! I remember one time a boa was stretched across the back road behind Worker’s House, it was night, and I didn’t see it until I had run over it with my truck… it was worse than a sleeping police man! Easily 14+ feet, my truck didn’t phase it at all! My cats bring in the small snakes live all the time. I’m sure my neighbors think snakes fly because I’m always winging them out of my yard to try to put distance between them and the kitties!

    • Hi, Kristel. Wow, you did run over a big one. I’ve heard of ones that long but never have seen one. I like the image of snakes flying.

      Actually, one of the more famous island snake stories involved our house long before we bought it. A boa climbed down the chimney and crawled in the crib with a baby. By the time we heard it, years later, it had been exaggerated to include the snake having the baby’s head in its mouth. Not true, say those who were involved in the incident, including one of today’s responders to my post, a neighbor and doctor who examined both the baby and the deceased snake. I probably should have included that. Oh, well. Thanks for reading!

  6. Hello, I am also from Virginia, living on a rock. Was wondering if you were related to a George Tucker who wrote for the newspaper? I also enjoyed reading his articles. My favorite was one he wrote about home grown tomatoes.

    • Hi, Lizzie. Good to hear from a fellow Virginian. I knew George well. In fact, we worked together for many years at The Virginian-Pilot. I was there for 31 years, retiring as editor. What a wonderful character and storyteller George was.

      I’m a genealogy buff, so I explored my Tucker roots. There were LOTS of Tuckers in early Virginia, and George and I descended from different branches. (Mine was the poor branch!)

      Thanks for reading. I’d like to know about your Virginia connections. You can e-mail me at kayaddis@gmail.com

  7. After reading your story, I am thankful we moved from Virginia to St Croix, USVI. No snakes here. Also, no squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, groundhogs, etc. that I have noticed. Mice and rats, yes, but with three cats they don’t stand a chance of surviving entry to our property. Eventually, the mongooses will take care of those, too.

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