Saturday, July 19, 2008


High: 83° F
Low: 62° F
Conditions: Humid with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms
Ari didn’t believe me when I told her that a young garter snake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis) has moved into my aging Honda.

Greg and I watched him for the better part of an hour yesterday morning, marveling at the way he extended himself like a branch from my headlight and wondering how on earth he got inside.

Greg speculated that the snake had crawled up through my radiator.

“But how?” I asked. “they don’t have legs.”

“Snakes climb trees, don’t they? They don’t need legs for that.”

He had a point, though in truth, how snakes can climb a tree makes no more sense to me than how they could slither up my radiator. Or my tire. Or however else he got himself wedged in there. But that just made his unexpected appearance all the more appealing.

This particularly wily—not to mention nimble—specimen let us stare for quite some time. And he didn’t even flinch when we went inside, collected the digital camera, and got up close for a shot. But when we returned with the caninaturalist, the snake made himself scarce. I pointed to the spot above the light where he had recoiled, leaving just the nub of his snaky nose.

Ari just didn’t get it. She probably couldn’t smell him. And I doubt she could really see him, either. When he finally revealed enough of his head to warrant notice, she gave him a quick sniff and quickly ruled him decidedly un-interesting, then turned to me with a huff. That's it?!?! She seemed to ask me. You brought me out here for that?

This is a dog who wouldn’t think twice about selling me to a band of gypsies if it meant she could have one good roll on a dead snake. As for this living specimen and its unusual habitat, she clearly couldn’t care less. In fact, she seemed much more concerned over the fact that her human friend seems to have developed a preternatural—and utterly inexplicable—fascination with a not-very-interesting part of the car.

The look she gave me when I took her—for the hundredth time—to visit the headlight could only mean one thing: pleeeeaasee. As in, give me a break. Or, gee, mom, let’s go stare at some gravel while we’re at it. That’s pretty interesting too. Eventually, I relented.

Back inside, I showed her some of my favorite Richard Scarry tomes, thinking the character I remembered as Mr. Snake might entice her. And why not? Greg and I both agreed we saw a very distinct resemblance. Here's our snake:

Here's Richard Scarry's driving a genetically modified apple car:

And one of him being carried by a cat servant (an idea that probably appeals greatly to Ari).
Even still, these images didn't resonate with her, either. Maybe that's because, as our friend Farmgirl patiently explained, that's not a snake at all, but rather, a lowly worm. Damn. I guess it doesn't matter all that much: the caninaturalist has never been one for book learning. I tried reading aloud, but she just slinked off to her crate. If she had a cell phone, I’m sure she would have called some of her other adolescent friends to complain about what a weirdo I’m being. If we drove our snake-infested car to the mall, she'd probably make me drop her off a block away so that nobody knew we were related.
Not that anyone except for Mr. Snake will be driving said car in the near future. He's laid claim, and I know that occupany is 9/10ths of the law. Or something like that.

So now I have a dog positively brimming with teenage dismissal and a car I cannot drive, for fear of cooking its new resident. The whole weekend could be a wash. Good thing I have some children’s books to read instead.


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Oh dear, I hate to break it to you, Kathryn, but Ari knows what I know...that isn't a snake in Richard Scarry's books, why, that's Lowly the WORM!! Now, if you had shown Ari a worm oozing from your headlight, I have no doubt she would have gotten the comparison and been appropriately impressed.

Very cool pictures, though, and I love the thought of you driving around town with a snake as a companion!

JB's Big World said...

That snake lives in your car? Do you think he wants to be my friend?

jo(e) said...

I've always heard stories about people finding snakes in their cars ... and I've always figured it was an urban legend.

But you've included actual photos!

Oh my.

Khyra The Siberian Husky said...

Hmmm - yesterday's news had a snake in washing machine, today's blog, YOUR KHAR!

I like the idea of a khat servant!!

I also like the idea of khat SERVED to me!!!

PeeEssWoo: I hope you were able to get bakhk to your nap!

Tracey and Huffle said...

Really, you're very lucky that's not an Australian snake. They're nearly all deadly here. Luckily I don't get snakes in my backyard. I think I'd be scared. Ari is a bit too cool for that, though.

Huffle Mawson, Honorary Husky and Explorer Cat

Rhea said...

ROFL What a funny picture of that snake peaking out of the hood of your car. I would have freaked if I'd found one in my car...even a non-poisonous one.

Ari's reaction is funny.

Lorenza said...

My mom would have an attack if she'd found a snake in her car!
I hope that snake finds a better home so you can use your car again!
Kisses and hugs

Blue said...

I'm not too keen on snakes.
I think Ari has the right idea!
But I hope he moves on the new pastures soon so you can drive again.

Best wishes, pats 7 pets

John Theberge said...

Interesting set of photos of the garter snake. I have a few living around here and one has to be the biggest garter I've ever seen. I've seen it by my foundation and lawn for the last two years. One of these days I'll get a photo of ot it.

Eve said...

Whew good thing farmgirl put you straight Kathryn...I was beginning to question even my own judgment...I mean LOOK AT HIM!!! Of course he's a worm...with that stylish worm hat and shirt!!! You didn't see that grand apparel on YOUR SNAKE did you!!! And yes…depending on how long this SNAKE has been there it could very well be his car now…squatter’s rights. If he’s been there under seven years…I’d call the cops!!
Thank goodness farmgirl is reading bedtime stories to Roopert every night or we may never have gotten to the bottom of this!!
My best to Ari…poor thing….

Anonymous said...

How I loved Richard Scarry! Thanks for reminding me of him. I think snakes are pretty cool creatures, (living in Maine we can afford to be unafraid of them) but I have to say, there's something decidedly creepy about a snake protruding OUT of something. Why doesn't he act like a nice, normal snake and curl up on a rock or something? Jesus, that gives me the willies!

snakebit in Eldridge said...

One must be most careful when sticking your hand anywhere a snake may be living. For example, sticking your hand in a hole located in a large field next to a junior high may lead to scars (both emotional and physical). I say drive the car somewhere and then enjoy your tasty snack of baked snake when you arrive at your destination. Peace.
The pictures are great. It seems as though you have the coolest hood ornament in Maine!

Naturegirl said...

Bless you for NOT wanting to cook this snake.
By accident I did just that ..although it was winter...when a little mouse climbed onto my car battery and made a nest to stay warm.
Sadly one day when I heard a roar after turning on my heater in mid winter I went to the garage and they discoverd my
(((wee 4 legged problem)))...who now has wings. Great story good boy Ari.

goatgirl said...

This got my attention over at farmgirls blog. Lowley was very popular in our house about 20 years ago. My son even had a stuffed Lowly worm. I must look for that, it must be around here somewhere. I once rode around with a spider and her web on my side mirror for about a week. When the car would start to move she would retreat inside the mirror.

jan said...

A while ago my yard was invaded by a small snake and a couple of toads. I thought they were charming. My dogs thought they were boring. Not enough smell to them?

Southbay Girl said...

Kathryn and Ari- my mom FREAKED when she read your post! She is terrified of snakes! I told her I would protect her!! She can't believe you were so close to a snake even if it was a garter snake! She would never go in the car again! Are you going to do anything to get the snake out of your car Ari?


The Army of Four said...

Woo woo woo! Can't let Mom see the picture of the you-know-what! Woo woo woo!
PS: Mom gets something called the "heebie jeebies" from those. Or as she says, "Slap a few legs on it and call it a lizard or a salamander and I'm FINE!" Just not with ... the you-know-whats. Woo!

Kathiesbirds said...

Kathryn, what a laugh as usual! I love garter snakes! What a cute picture! And what a great way to spend the weekend inside reading children's books!


Woof, Ari

Snakes in a car? And we thought we had problems with snakes, monsters and toads. Go get em!!!
Desert Pups here just roaming the neighborhood and trying to meet new pals cause we're new in town.

Woof, woof
Scuba, Keiko, Norman and Toby from Life Inside the Fence

YourFireAnt said...

Kathryn, this post cracked me up. I'm still laughing. Thanks! The photos too.


Twinville said...

I love that last photo of the snake arching up
Richard Scarry was my favorite author as a child. I still have a well-loved original Richard Scarry book on my shelf. Conjures up many wonderful childhood memories.

And I'm glad that farmgirl set you and Ari straight about Lowly. I truly believe Lowly is related to the Grouch's worm friend, Slimey.
The might even be brothers. :)

Marigold said...

Snakes. Oy. I'm sure Cabra and Quinn would like it though. I think you are lucky. We only get chipmunks in our cars.

Mary said...

Not sure i would want to find a snake in my car but great photos.

Amici said...

How did you resist the temptation now to toss him around like a stick and shake him all about? I found a snake at the park a few weeks ago but my human screamed and it went away too fast before I could react.