Snake Surprise

When I told my dad about the butterfly and moth post I wrote recently, somehow we got on the subject of snakes. . . . Oh I know why we did. We were talking about crawfish (or crayfish if you prefer) and how I’d seen some in our backyard, along with snakes.

“It wasn’t my imagination, was it?” I asked, since I . . . um . . . had imaginary friends as a kid. I just wanted to make sure. . . .

He said that yes, there were burrowing crawfish in a hole in our yard, maybe two years after we moved into our house in Chicago—a house that had been newly built at the time. (Wondering about burrowing crawfish? Check this or this or even this.) And there were snakes too. When I was seven, I remember being terrified of a green snake crawling along the sidewalk in the front of our house, and wondered how it got there (after I finished screaming). Well, mystery solved finally on the snake front, after all of these years.


“Your brother brought them home,” said Dad. (Note the plural pronoun them.)

My older brother and his best friend, both nine years old at the time, had gone exploring around an old factory (later torn down due to the expressway extension by our house) and brought home souvenirs—snakes to live at our house. Perhaps the others escaped their clutches. But one decided to linger at our house. When I saw it, I didn’t want to go outside ever again, especially since the snake chose to slither into the bushes at the front of the house.

“Oh girl, the snake’s not poisonous,” said my sympathetic parents. (Keep in mind that I was a city kid and had never seen a snake before, outside of a reptile house at the zoo. My parents had been raised on farms in a different state, and could readily identify a poisonous snake, having seen them.)

So I have my brother to thank for my trauma. I should have known. He also was the one who favored the old snake in a can gag.

Snake in a can

But how to thank him properly? Unfortunately, he lives over a thousand miles from me, so I can’t send a snake his way.

Or can I?

I had to Google to find out. Turns out I could through Ship Your! It’s nice to know that I have options. Mwwwwahahahaha!

But this brings to mind another incident involving snakes. Back in my early days as a curriculum editor, the managing editor brought his pet boa constrictor to the office and parked him in one of the conference rooms. I was curious and a little bolder than I was at the age of seven, so I drifted into the room where a crowd had gathered. But I flinched as the snake’s head edged toward me.


“Oh, let him crawl up your arm!” said the managing editor. “He’s friendly.”

Haven’t we all heard that one before, usually in regard to a snarling pet who might be friendly to the owners, but not to strangers? I didn’t want to look like a wimp, so I did. The boa was very smooth as he made his way up my arm. But since he did not provide flowers or candy nor ask for my phone number, our relationship was brief.

I can only hope that in the future no one else decides to surprise me with a snake. If anyone’s going to do the surprising, that person’s gonna be me.


If you think of it, say happy birthday to Andra Watkins, who is two thirds of the way through her Natchez Trace walk! This is one for the history books!


Snake photos from Wikipedia. Snake in a can from ebay. Birthday cake from

24 thoughts on “Snake Surprise

  1. Snakes are the absolute terror for my brother. My kids are terrified of flies (?) and spiders. It’s amazing how six foot people can be so irrationally afraid of tiny little bugs and such. It’s the crazy ones I like-crazy phobias I mean, not crazy people. Then again…

    • Ha ha! It’s like the elephant being afraid of a mouse. But I can’t blame your brother’s fear of snakes. Some are pretty lethal! But this boa constrictor was actually quite friendly as my boss said.

  2. I’m neutral on snakes. They stay away from me and I’ll stay away from them. The constrictors are rather easier to deal with than the venomous ones, but that probably goes without saying. A funny thing is that I’m always hearing snake stories from a few friends in Florida. It used to be alligators that were the problem, but now the snakes seem to be the stars.

  3. Brilliant post, ‘But since he did not provide flowers or candy nor ask for my phone number, our relationship was brief.’ I cracked up at that! 😀

    I like snakes, I did Animal Management in college, so I like most animals. Not snails or slugs though, I had to leave the room when they brought out the African Land Snails… ugh!

  4. Wow! I can’t believe you let the boa constrictor crawl on your arm, Linda! I’m okay with snakes as long as they stay outside and away from me. We have a ten foot black snake that has taken up housekeeping in our yard during the summer months. Although he’s HUGE, I’m okay with him because he keeps away the poisonous snakes. Ship Your Reptiles. Com…boy, you can find anything on the internet these days. 🙂

    • I know. I was impressed by the fact that a company ships reptiles.
      Um, you have a ten-foot snake living in your yard? Wow. Um, how do you entertain in your yard? Do your friends and family know about the snake?

  5. This is my fave: “The boa was very smooth as he made his way up my arm. But since he did not provide flowers or candy nor ask for my phone number, our relationship was brief.” My early years were spent in a little corner of the Appalachians on the border of PA and MD. Snakes fascinated me and they still don’t freak me out as much as spiders. *shudders*

  6. Oh Linda, I love your penchant to looking up things you can ship to people. Don’t think you’d get too many people signing up for your snake-shipping contest though. 🙂

    My wife is capital-tee Terrified of snakes. They don’t bother me so much because I grew up in the sticks and we had everything from sidewinders to rattlesnakes to king snakes. My dad taught me which ones to watch out for and how to approach (or get away from) them.

    But land crabs?! Just the thought… *shudder*.

    • I’m always on the lookout for weird things to send. 🙂
      Glad your dad took the time to teach you about them. My grandfather taught my dad snake lore too, which is why he knew the snake wasn’t poisonous. But we don’t have many snakes hanging around in this area. I’m glad about that!!!

  7. Another blogger posted recently about having snake nightmares, i think she would die if she read this! I can’t believe you were brave enough to let that Boa crawl up your arm. You are one brave Diva! 🙂 I remember those snake in a can things! A bit phallic, now that I look at it again. LOL.

    • Um, wow. You’re right, Maria.
      I thought I would at least try to conquer my fear of snakes. And there were other people around, so I wasn’t as terrifid.

  8. That snake in a can thing looks like……………welllllllll………


    I’m not a fan of snakes. I don’t know how you let one slither up your arm. Eek!!

    Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  9. The green snake looks kind of adorable in the picture, but I suppose seeing it slither and undulate in front of me might change my impression of it. I don’t have much experience with snakes — as far as wild animal sightings around where I lived until a few weeks ago (in Northern California), I would see wild pigs and boars (complete with tusks)! Packs of them would be seen running through the foliage. They are definitely not cute in the way domestic pigs can be.

  10. Petrified of snakes, have only encountered four this year. Outside at least, few years ago one in the house, not fun at all but the hound took care of it thank god. My two new nitwits are afraid of them just like ma:) love your blog and the nature shots, butterflies, etc…

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