I confronted my first snake recently. It scooted across the trail right under my nose and into the tall grass border. I stared after it, not quite sure what the heck it was, until I noticed the grass sway a few feet away. That’s when I barked at it, making sure whatever it was wouldn’t come back right away. So there.
Mike laughed. “Scared of a little garter snake, Chloë?” he asked mockingly. “What would you do if you saw a real snake?”
He had a point. I had to buckle up. So on every walk since I have practiced dealing with snakes by staking out inanimate objects that I think might be snakes, such as grass stalks, twigs, twisted-up plastic bags and one of those self-coiling hoses. I sneak up on each one, slowly, and then pounced expectantly, only to find out it was not a snake, just a grass stalk, a twig, a twisted-up plastic bag or a self-coiling hose.
But I hadn’t racked up any losses, either, so I was feeling some false bravado when we encountered another garter snake in the park. Once again, I was skittish throughout the experience. And then Mike showed me an item from the Seattle Times: A python was loose in another Seattle park!
“Police initially identified the snake as a Burmese python, but Don Jordan, director of Seattle Animal Control, said the reptile is actually a relative, a reticulated python,” the article said. “Pythons are not venomous. They kill by constriction, grasping a victim with their teeth, coiling around the animal and squeezing until it suffocates. The natives of Southeast Asia are carnivores, surviving primarily on small mammals and birds.”
Then came the most important part: ” Jordan said the reptile could be a threat to small cats or dogs.” (My emphasis added.)