“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.
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?
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.