Sometimes the Best Friends Slither

You never know what people are going to find interesting.  Of all the things I mention in my “About” page, the one that gets the most questions is Herbie, the snake that lives under our house.  Mostly, people want to know if he really exists.  The answer to that question is yes, Herbie is real and I have a story to tell about how we came to meet.

First I have a disclaimer.  I call Herbie a blacksnake.  That’s most likely incorrect.  Herbie is too big and his color pattern is off for him to be a blacksnake.  Blacksnakes tend to be a solid dark color with a lighter color under belly.  Herbie is probably a kingsnake.  The give away is the blue-black color and the lighter colored rings that are spaced down his entire length.  Now that you’ve had your lesson in herpetology, let’s get on with how Herbie and I became buddies.

About four years ago I decided to extend my satellite television to another room in the house.  The existing runs were in the crawl space so, tools and extra cable in hand, under the house I went.  As I was crawling through the musty, dimly lit area, plastic ground cover crinkling with every move, I suddenly felt something slither across my ankles.  I glanced back to see fairly large snake, four and a half feet long and maybe an inch and a half in diameter, staring back at me.

Like Indiana Jones, a lot of folks have a deathly fear of snakes.  I grew up spending a lot of my time in the woods, so I’m not one of them.  I know what the dangerous snakes look like and how to avoid them.  This was not a dangerous snake, so as long as I didn’t corner or frighten him, he wasn’t going to cause me any grief.  I shooed him away and continued on to where I needed to go to do the job.

I found the interface switch where the cable split off into different directions, sat down cross-legged and started working on adding another run.  After a few minutes I felt movement across my lap.  Looking down I saw the snake again, this time crawling over my thigh.  This was a damn peculiar snake and that made me curious.  I reached down and gently but firmly grabbed him just behind the head.  I knew that he wasn’t venomous, but he did have teeth and I really wasn’t keen on getting bit.  As I held him, he coiled around my arm.  He didn’t seem angry and wasn’t showing any aggression so, after examining him for a minute or so, I gently tossed him a few feet away and watched as he slithered to the far corner of the crawl space.

It took me another thirty minutes or so to finish the job and the snake stayed away, mostly.  As I was leaving the crawlspace, he came over one last time and slithered over my hand as I crawled out on all fours.  I just shook my head and watched him go.  When I came back into the house, Linda asked me if everything went OK.  “Sure did,” I said.  “But it would have been a lot lonelier if Herbie hadn’t kept me company.”

“Who’s Herbie?” She asked.

“Herbie’s the blacksnake who lives under the house.”

“We have a snake under the house?”

“Yes.”

“Did you kill it?’

“No, why would I do that?”

“Because it’s a snake.”

“I’ve known a lot of snakes with two legs in my life.  I didn’t kill them, why would I kill Herbie just because he doesn’t have feet?”

“Snakes are dangerous!”

“Some are, most aren’t.  Seen any mice or copperheads around recently?  No…Herbie’s probably why.”

“Oh, so he’s like a guard snake?”

“Yeah, if that’s what helps you sleep at night, think of him like a guard snake.”

Nearly every time I go under the house Herbie slithers over to say hi.  It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever seen.  The only explanation I can come up with is that he was originally someone’s pet snake and he grew up being around people.  Somehow, he got out or they left him loose and now he lives with us.  All indications are that he still likes people.  I think he gets lonely.

Sometime’s I go under the house just to see how he’s doing.  We talk.  Turns out he’s a Carolina Panthers fan and I’m his only source of information.  He was pissed when I told him that the goober they hired to coach the Panthers a couple of years ago fired John Kasay.  I mean he was really angry.  He actually hisses when I mention the name Rivera.

The only time that he’s a problem is when the pest guy comes to do the termite inspection.  Apparently he’s one of those guys who really doesn’t like snakes.  I have to go underneath the house first, find Herbie and sit with him until the inspection is over.  The last thing I need is an insurance claim because a termite inspector got a concussion trying go through the brick wall of my house’s foundation on a high speed crawl.

So that’s Herbie’s story.  As long as I live here, Herbie has a home.  Heck, if we ever move I might just take him with us.  There are mice everywhere and how can you not like someone who thinks that Ron Rivera is a moron.

See ya

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