Monday, July 25, 2005

Midnight Rattlesnake Beheading

I hate the heat. Luckily one of my bedroom doors opens right onto the porch, so I just lock the screen door and get a cool breeze all night. The only drawback is that this makes the howling and yipping of the coyotes and the hoo-hooing of the occasional owl louder. As well as the annoying barks and growls of one of our dogs who has been evicted from sleeping in the kitchen and forced to sleep outside.

Last night at around 11:30 I realized that Mikey was growling more determinedly than usual. I turned on my light, opened the screen door, and called him in. I heard him try to come up the stair to the walkway that runs in front of my parents' bedroom window, my room, and my sister's, and then heard a noise that sounded like a sprinkler starting up. I think Mikey backed off and then I heard the sound distinctly enough to identify it as a rattlesnake.

I woke up my dad and we went into the entryway and shone a flashlight through the window and saw a snake about 3 feet long coiled up on the walkway near the wall. My sister's bedroom light came on and she tried calling Mikey up the other end of the walkway to go into her room, but he was too freaked out. So I finally went out the front door grabbed Mike by the collar, brought him in, and checked to make sure he hadn't been bitten.

Dad, my sister, and I talked about what we were going to do. I suggested just leaving it, but Dad said he'd like to kill or move that particular snake so that he knew it wasn't going to be hanging around the house. Moving it, obviously, wasn't a good idea, so we woke Mom up and asked her (since she grew up on this ranch) how we should kill it. She suggested using a shovel and cutting its head off.

So Dad got a shovel from the garage and, while I held the light, tried to chop it in half.

It wasn't as easy to chop it with a blunt shovel as you'd think. The poor snake tried to fight back but fangs (even venomous fangs) have no effect on shovels. It writhed around with a slice about halfway through its width. It was really sad; when I kill things (primarily spiders) I try to make it quick. I don't want anything to have a slow and painful death.

Mom got another shovel and, while Dad had the snake pinned down, sliced of its head pretty quickly. By this time the snake had been severed, and the tail end still moved for another minute. Dad shoveled up the two pieces and threw them over the fence into the cow field.

Poor Mikey had his ears back for another half-hour, refused to go outside, and would jump whenever someone touched him unexpectedly. I let him sleep in my room, and in the morning tried to get him to go outside onto the walkway rather than through the house. When I finally coaxed him out, he started running down the walkway in the opposite direction of where the snake had been. I had to grab his collar and pull him over to the corner where the adobe of the wall and walkway cement were chipped and bloodstained. He sniffed around and I went back to my room.

Mikey was definitely scared and freaked out last night. And though I think he's a brave dog for warning us, Mom thinks part of the reason his ears were back last night was because he was ashamed 'cuz he was scared and couldn't fight it.

Poor Mikey. The animals he should be terrorizing are too terrifying and dangerous, and the ones he does terrorize (the cows) are safely on the other side of the fence and not very impressed by his antics.

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