So the phone rings today, and I pick it up, and James says “You know a lot about animals, so I’m calling you. There’s this snake on the back steps. I think it’s a rattlesnake.”
“Cool!” I said.
“NOT COOL!” he yelled. “I nearly stepped on it!”
Following some discussion, during which we determined it had no rattle, and I tried to describe a blunt pit viper head, and reticulation, and uttered such soothing words as “No, it’s probably just a harmless little brown snake…” he took several photos from a safe distance and uploaded them.
I took one look and shouted “HOLY FUCK IT’S A COPPERHEAD!” into the phone.
James went into gibbering panic mode, as one might expect. I tried to recover from my slightly too enthuisastic ID by talking about what a beneficial snake it was and how happy he should be to have it there. “Fine!” he said, “you can have it in the divorce!”
Possibly this is the first time that reference to my impending divorce has gotten a belly laugh out of me.
Anyway, he’s convinced it’s going to crawl into the house and eat his toes, and my attempts to explain otherwise may have been hampered by my early indoctrination by my father that Snakes Are Our Friends–I really shouldn’t have mentioned that it probably lives under the house, that was not that smart–so if any herpetology types in the audience wish to assure him that it is a pleasant and mild-mannered serpent keeping down the wolf-spiders and not planning on falling from the ceiling and eating his face, he’d probably appreciate it.
And if it turns out my ID is totally off, and it’s not a copperhead, he’d probably like to know that, too.