Trial by Snakes

It was a quiet and peaceful Monday afternoon, the trouble makers had gone home (courtesy of the substitute security guard for today), and I was sitting with some of my tween helpers getting ready for Tuesday’s preschool story time.

“Miss Hedgie, there’s a snake…” This from a young man (9) who doesn’t normally joke about totally crazy things. Apparently I shot him a look that implied insanity because his older brother confirmed “No really, there’s a snake over here.” (Older brother is 13).

I leisurely head over to where they are pointing, waiting to see a rubber snake and have the 9 year old burst into giggles. Indeed there’s a snake and when about I’m about three feet from it…ah, yes, there would be a tongue and a moving head. I squat down to look at Snake and manage not to fall over backwards when Snake wiggles. It’s not that I’m incredibly squeamish but it was only a couple feet from me and it just moved.

Our specimen was black with vertical stripes of several colors, one of which was yellow. S/he was about 18-20 inches long and about as big around as my index finger in the fat parts. (I wear a size 7 ring on that finger–for size reference or Valentine’s Day gifts.) No one within immediate earshot is sure the exact type of snake but the boys thought it was a garter snake. Snake probably either was carried in by someone wanting to have a great time (let’s scare the librarians!) or might have come in the back door, which leads to a patio.

Stationing the brothers who had alerted me to this little problem to “watch the snake and make sure no one messes with it” it was off to the children’s dept office for a large clear Tupperware with a lid. Armed with this and a piece of paper, back to Snake, who is watching the younger sibling nervously.

But Snake doesn’t want to just wiggle into Tupperware. No, No, we have to go around the corner of the bookshelf that we’re squished up against and keep slithering while I’m trying to get it pinned in the Tupperware. After about two minutes of angling and box and paper, I won. Somebody handed me the lid and Snake was turned over to the 13 year old with instructions to “take him outside, don’t scare anybody else with him, don’t hurt him, just let him go in the grass.”

Yet this was not the end of Snake saga.

Here comes 13 year old with box and snake. “This kid” (Random 13-14 year old who witnessed snake capture) “wants to take him home.” Ooooookay. Since I’m not one to turn down a budding herpetologist and since said young teen assures me that he doesn’t plan any bizarre science experiments with said snake, we need to transfer snake out of my Tupperware. Now what does a children’s librarian have to toss a snake into–ah ha! Oatmeal canisters from last week’s “Let’s Make Instruments” program. Snake got rather unceremoniously dumped into a small canister and once we popped the lid back on, I poked some air holes in the top. Snake was probably happier in that dark, small and secure place than he had been for the previous 20 minutes. “This kid” (when you’re dealing with a wiggly things, one forgets to get names) was instructed not to scare people with the snake or torture the snake and to take it home now.

So Miss Hedgie has a little more street cred. I can capture garter snakes without being totally grossed out–which is more than I can say for some of my 13 year old boys.