I was busy writing when my long-suffering wife, Lisa, called to me from the front porch. “Lily’s found a really big snake!” Lily is our rescue dog, one year old, part terrier and part pit, and she is smart. Anyway, I had to go see, although I am strongly averse to snakes. But Lisa was not exaggerating. The snake was mostly hidden in some ivy ground cover, but Lily had sniffed it out and then barked at it, ever cautious in her approach, one foot on the brake and the other on the gear for “Reverse.” The snake was mostly black with some white specks on it. Not a timber rattler. Not a copperhead.
It did not move. I thought it was dead, especially since there were some flies on it, so I poked at it with a long pole with a hook on it that we use for trimming lower branches of trees. A LONG pole. It did not move. Must be dead. Just to be sure, I nudged its head a little and then I detected slight movement and the tongue flicking about. Not dead. I nudged it again and it finally started slithering up the embankment, toward a tree. It slithered and it slithered and we were gradually astonished at how big it was. It took its own sweet time, did not acknowledge us at all, but just gradually emerged. Slowly. Did I mention slithering?
The long pole I had used was a foot taller than I. And I am a little over 6′. And the snake was longer than the pole was tall. Are you getting the picture?
I went inside fast and Googled “South Carolina Snakes” and there it was, a black rat snake. Non-venomous, which I could already tell by the shape of the head, and known to grow to 8′ in length. Passive. Shy. Constrictor. Constrictor! I had no idea, but Google said black rat snakes can constrict and consume rodents, birds, bats, full grown squirrels, and small mail carriers. Which explained why it looked like, at first, there were two snakes. It had actually wrapped itself around some vermin and suffocated it. Explained the flies, too.
Our snake continued to unravel from the ivy ground cover until it came to the base of the tree. And then it went up the tree. Some people might question that statement, but it’s true. It went up and up and up and finally stretched out on a high branch and stayed there. We went inside. After lunch, we went back out and there was no sign of our visitor. Now we’re wondering where could he be now?