When I was a a kid I loved snakes. I had several as pets growing up. My mother was pretty tolerant of them as I recall. She said anything was better than the pet tarantula one of my older brothers came home with once.
I can recall hunting for snakes in the lots around my house and on camping trips. I caught Garter Snakes, Hognoses, Water Snakes, whatever I found. I even caught a Speckled King Snake at Astroworld under the Texas Cyclone.
My favorite pet snake was a Texas Rat Snake I named Smaug after the Dragon in The Hobbit. He was cool. When threatened, Rat Snakes will vibrate their tail really fast and when they are in some dry leaves is can sound just like a Rattlesnake. Smaug was a feisty fellow and would do the tail thing at the drop of a hat.
Today while returning from the store after running a quick errand I was flagged down by a woman on the side of the road who was pointing and yelling “SNAKE! SNAKE!” Sure enough, there was a huge snake making his way near the curb next to some apartments right off of Westheimer. Instinct took over and I parked the car and moved toward the reptile. He was obviously a Texas Rat Snake and about 4 feet long. I must have been quite a sight as I did my best impersonation of the Crocodile Hunter and grabbed the tail causing the snake to double back on itself as he attempted to plung his fangs into my arm. I was quick and avoided the bite. After a few more tail stops and near misses I had him coiled up on my food rattling his tail against the side of my shoe and poised to bite the living crap out of me.
I distracted him with one hand and quickly grabbed him with my other just behind the head so he couldn’t bite me. He coiled up around my arm and I got back in my car and drove home.
The whole experience brought back a flood of memories. There was a time when finding something like that Rat Snake would have made my entire year.
I let him go in the back yard. I figure he’s got a better chance there than he had near that apartment complex. I might have kept him but I think Cynthia would have had a heart attack.
I snapped a few pics. Click on the thumbnails to see Smaug II before I released him.