Ms. Observant…NOT

As I was walking up the driveway today after one of our regular trips to Lowe’s & Home Depot (what do other people do on the weekends?), I was so happy to notice the pretty flowers and Garth the Gargoyle in the sun…


…that I walked right past this guy/gal poised on the porch steps (right next to the planter in the picture)…


I was several steps beyond the 4-ft beauty when Mike said, “Hey, look what you walked right by!”

Then I had a small heart attack.

Then I ran for the camera.

By then s/he had slithered across the driveway, heading toward neighbor Chris’s.


Thanks to John from The Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Jason from Pennsylvania Herpetological Education and Resource Program for helping me identify this immature Eastern Rat Snake. (I almost typed Eastern Rat Snack…actually, s/he’s welcome to snack on the mole that was out feeding under the bird feeder yesterday.) “Immature” at 4 feet — geez — seems they can reach over 100 inches and are the largest snakes in PA!

While in theory I’m glad this guy/gal is comfortable in our little piece of suburbia (neighbor Chris was thrilled and sorry she missed the excitement), it does make me determined to pull my feet up under me when I sit on the porch at night.

Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite
and furthermore always carry a small snake.
~ W.C. Fields


  1. mel said,

    Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Must be that time of year. I almost stepped on a little garter and his pretty lil’ lady hanging out part-way under our hostas. They were there last year, too, but only briefly–I was hoping it had just been a fluke. But NO. They’re back. Todd reminds me they’re good for the garden, he’s even brainwashed the kid to repeat the same lines about how they don’t bite, they won’t hurt me, etc. I still feel all aflutter when I see them. I can’t relax now when outside–I find myself tiptoeing down the steps, peering into hosta after hosta, looking for the telltale tail (the “tell-tail”?) and feeling kinda creeped out the entire time. Sneaky, slithery things.

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I know what you mean, Mel! I used to have a snake living in the compost bin. Every time I’d lift the lid, I’d steel myself and use it as a shield — sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn’t. To this day, 2 houses later (and a different bin), I’m still cautious every time I lift the lid. (“Tell-tail” — love it!)

  3. robbie said,

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I think black snakes are officially rat snakes and they do grow large so be prepared for your friend to double in length and girth. We’ve had 8′ (yes foot) black snakes slithering up our cement block walls in the shop! I think it’s the surprise element that is so creepy (and the fact they don’t have appendages). You usually don’t see them until you are face-to-face…….much too close for my liking.

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I’m feeling confident s/he will like it much better in the green grass on the other side of the fence at Chris’s (despite the dogs). That’s what I’m telling myself anyway — although I’m sure the foot-high grass on the OTHER side of us is quite tempting as well. It sure was weird how it was poised on the steps (spanning a couple at once).

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