Monday, November 03, 2008

A Hallowe'en visitor

I blogged about this on our house-building blog (, but thought you might be amused to read it here.... M has been away for a week at a techie conference in LA, and P was out at a party on Friday night, leaving Grub and me to celebrate Hallowe'en by ourselves. Since she was tired and I was tired and we were on our own this just consisted of dinner followed by Scooby Doo cartoons on the box, although we did manage to make a pumpkin lantern! It had been a hot day and was still hot in the evening which is part of the reason why I went to bed really late. The other reason was that I stayed up to finish Grub's recorder case (for those not acquainted with Steiner education, children play the recorder and weave a case for it, but as she needed hers quickly I was asked to do most of it in order to get it finished...). There are only so many evenings one can face watching recorded episodes of Rebus and weaving.

Anyway, at 2:30am Grub came into my room and asked if she could come into bed with me, and I told her to get her pillow, so she went out into the corridor and... trod on something and squealed. Thinking it must be a cockroach I got up, told her to get into my bed, and said I'd clean up and get her pillow, but when I turned on the light in the corridor I saw a.... snake! And I really did have to look twice in order to believe what I was seeing, because it was so unexpected! Luckily Grub hadn't been bitten...

The thing is, what do you do? I'm British - British people don't have much experience of snakes. Yes, there is one poisonous British snake, the adder, but I don't think it does much damage and it's pretty rare - I've seen one once, and only because I was walking on the South Downs, which is a common habitat. Coffs Harbour of course is full of the damned things, including very dangerous ones, and because we live 'on acres', as the phrase goes, it is to be expected that we would eventually see one, but outside, not in the house!

So there I was, in my T shirt, wondering what the hell to do, when said snake decided to make a right-turn into Grub's bedroom, which doesn't have a convenient 'way out for snakes'. I went and put on my knee-length Ugg boots (thick sheepskin, so I didn't think any fangs would get through them and I've read somewhere that most people are bitten on the ankles!) and followed the snake. Now at this point you are probably thinking I'm a complete fool, but what does one do? The worst possible scenario, as far as I could see, was 'losing' the snake because I'd never be settled in the house again... and I couldn't put Grub back in her room with the thought of a snake on the loose. So I followed the snake until it went under her bed and looked as if it was going to attack me (i.e. reared up, folded its neck into an 'S' shape and looked a bit scary!), and we eyeballed each other for about 15 minutes or so until finally it relaxed a bit and I was able to dash out and grab the phone and the phonebook, and get Grub's pillow, book and teddy so that she could curl up on my bed.

Luckily I'd read about the Australian animal rescue organisation, WIRES, and found their number. It didn't say it was 24 hours, but a lovely lady called Donna answered the phone and said she'd get a reptile person to call me back, so I waited for another 15 minutes or so until Tom rang. He's at Nana Glen, which is about 25 kms from here and he was understandably reluctant to come out at what was by then 3:30am, but when I told him about the shape of the snake's neck when it looked as if it was about to bite me he said a very rude word and announced he was on his way and that I should take up position in the corridor and monitor the snake's movements. And that's where my stepson found me when he got in from his party; I advised him to go and wash off his 'zombie army officer' make up before Tom arrived!

When Tom did arrive it was all over pretty quickly. The snake had sloped off to a comfortable place wrapped around the bottom of Grub's basketball, behind a storage box (hmmm, what was that ball doing behind the box rather than in the box??), and he was able to catch it with a stick and a pillow case and take it away. It turned out to be a brown tree snake, which is venemous but not madly so, rather than the feared Eastern Brown snake, and apparently it is quite unusual for one to come into the house, especially when we've got so many juicy lizards OUTSIDE!

The excitement was all over by 4:30am, and we rang M, who was sitting in the departure lounge at Los Angeles airport, to tell him all about it. Unfortunately my hopes of catching up on sleep were somewhat vain as the phone started ringing at 7:30am and didn't stop until I finally got up!


Jan Allsopp said...

You do have an uncanny ability to attract strange weird (and I'm hoping for your sake - wonderful too) things to come into your life, don't you. Very brave I must say. We had a run in with a brown tree snake here a few years ago, although I must say it was nothing in comparison to yours. We had a nest of blue wrens outside my youngest's window. She has eyes like Superman and spotted the bts in the climber on the fence. It was only about 18" long. We investigated thoroughly, got the book out and read up on it... "diet consists of baby birds and eggs". Haven't had a blue wren near the place since.

Snippety Gibbet said...

WoW!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a great Halloween story. Quite amazing. I kept reading, but thinking that I had no earthly idea what I would have done if it happened to me. Sheesh!

Ampersand Duck said...

Good on you for not panicking and grabbing Grub and running out of the house -- although that 15 minutes must have felt like e.t.e.r.n.i.t.y.


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