Subourbon Mom

Flying Snakes and Other Animals That Freak Me Out

Every now and then God throws an animal into the mix just to mess with us. One of His favorite things to do must be to mix up combinations of animals that don’t make sense, and see what happens.  The platypus comes to mind first, and then maybe the mole, or even the jack-a-lope.

But I didn’t see the flying snake thing coming.  Apparently I haven’t been watching the right Animal Planet shows—no one ever went into some piece-of-crap hoarder’s house and found snakes soaring among the rafters in Animal Cops, Houston.

Scientists have been studying how certain snakes can fly—not just drop down onto people from trees like a drunk teenager toilet papering somebody’s house. These things deliberately jump from a tree and land on another branch, or their prey.

Now, I’ve heard of flying squirrels—shoot, our local baseball team has it as their mascot (How intimidating—“Yep, I’m a big fan of The Squirrels.  They’re pretty fierce this year.”)—and sure, I knew there were water moccasins that would drop out of trees onto their prey.  Definitely scary-movie enough to make me stay away from all overhanging trees when I’m fishing.

Sorry, if one of those things came winging at me through the air, the last thing I’d be thinking about is “Hey, I wonder how they do that?” I’d be freaking the f**ck out!

As I said, scientists have been studying the physics of how these snakes manage to fly without appendages. They used big science terms like “vortex,” and “lift forces,” but what I took away from that is, these reptiles look a lot less like dragons flying through the air than the snakes my preschoolers cut out of paper plates.



I’m sure Darwin would make some rational explanation about adapting and being an evolved species, but on this one I’m leaning toward creationism: I think God looked at the snake and said, “Not only are you going to make them eat the apple, little snake, but you’re going to make them soil their cute little fig leaves afterward by flying at them. That’ll teach my pesky children to disobey Me.”

So where are these snakes?  They are found in lowland areas of Southeast and Southern Asia.  That may be their natural habitat, but if Lionfish and those monster pythons can get to Florida via hurricane and pet stores, I’m not taking any chances.  I’m thinking of moving to Arizona. At least rattlers are courteous enough to warn you before they strike.

We Are Not Farm People
Nephew #1 Dangling The Snake

Nephew #1 Dangling The Snake

Occasionally, events happen that can make you re-think the roles you play in your marriage. In our house, all things accounting (see my previous blog:, mechanical and packing-related fall to Hubby; most things domestic, flowers and shrubs, and cleaning up pet poop, vomit and carcasses ( ) fall to me.  There was one category that fell to me by default, not because I necessarily am good at handling them, but because I was more familiar with them:


Hubby grew up in Bermuda, where there are no snakes, except for the occasional gardener that snuck in via a tourist’s golf bag. He has always had a healthy appreciation for them, and has never failed to rapidly remove himself from any uncontrolled snake situation.  In fact, when I was very pregnant with Daughter #2, Hubby saw a snake dropping from my brother’s gutters, and in a moment of animal instinct, he jumped behind me (I like to say he threw me in front of him). For years this has been a family joke, which he good-naturedly took on the chin.

Oh, but that was about to change…

Yesterday, we took a trip to see the in-laws on their beautiful horse farm in Virginia.  Various nieces, nephews and grand-nieces were there, all running about the place, kicking soccer balls, exploring the barns and generally causing mayhem everywhere they went. Around Happy Hour, as the adults were slowing down and the thought of a nice cool drink was sifting through our humidified brains, someone came rushing in to inform us there was a huge black snake in the tree outside. Of course, being the suburbanites we are, we flocked around to look at the rare (to us) creature of the wilderness.

Sure enough, curled up in the crook of a giant old beech tree was a black snake. We could just see a few inches of its body, and it was definitely in the “bigger-than-I-want-to-get-close-to” category.  Nephew #1 (the oldest at 16, and who lives on the farm), had a cast on his arm, but decided to scale the tree anyway and (what else?)…poke it with a stick.

Like a group of tourists watching a Bedouin snake charmer, we took videos and pictures with our cell phones.  We gasped and shrieked as the harmless snake lifted its head and glared at Nephew #1. The smaller nieces were shooed away to the patio.

As Nephew #1 pushed and prodded the snake out of the tree, Nephew #4 (age 9, who also lives on the farm) stood beneath the tree, hoping to catch it by its tail as it dropped. The snake finally gave up its Happy Hour hiding place (which happened to be filled with water—he’s definitely related to us) and dropped to the ground.

Now, I’m not proud of this—in fact, I’m pretty mortified:  as the snake hit the ground, I pushed Daughter #2 in front of me and ran to the patio with the little ones—just like Hubby had done to me 13 years ago.

That’s right.  I pushed my own child in the potential path of a snake so that I could get away. Way to go, Mom—excellent parenting.

In the mayhem that followed, Nephew #1 grabbed the snake by its tail, letting it dangle for a while so we could all get a good view. Eventually, Nephew #4 draped the snake over his shoulders and took it to another part of the yard, away from the timid city-folk.

With the excitement over, it was soon time to go. On the way home, I told Hubby I would never, EVER, make fun of him for shoving me into harm’s way over a snake again. But I think Daughter #1 said it best. As we pulled out of the driveway, and it was quiet for a moment, her matter-of-fact teenage voice came from the back seat:

“We are not farm people.”

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