Today was a day filled with mixed emotions. Last night Jeff caught a little copperhead snake- the first one of the summer. Usually when the girls spot a snake they tell their counselor who then comes to get me or Jeff to catch it. We grab some snake tongs and a pillowcase and bag the snake so we can release it a ways away from camp. I offered to release this little guy today when I got done baking so I could get some photos of it. He sat in his pillowcase in the office only to disappear this morning when I went looking for him! Now, don't get me wrong- he didn't get out of the pillowcase- the entire thing was gone! It was mistakingly put in a box with some paper to be recycled and somehow it and the paper got tossed in a dumpster at the local dump... or so we think. I went to the dump and talked to the manager, Bob, who basically told me there was no hope and he wouldn't let me go dumpster diving for it. He said "at least it wasn't a puppy." Thanks Bob. Anyhow, I am dedicating this post to this poor little bugger who met an untimely fate. I can only hope he made it out of the pillowcase and found his way back into the woods to live a long, happy life.
After my trip to the dump, It was lunch time, then rest hour. I caught up on some reading before deciding to close my eyes for the last 30 minutes or so. I woke up to someone calling my name- and that generally means one thing- snake spotting! Sure enough, there was a black rat snake in the junior bathroom. I grabbed the snake tongs and a pillowcase and followed the counselors up there. I had to stand on a chair to even reach him but my first attempt was a failure. He had his tail wrapped around the chimney so I couldn't pull him down. Luckily he slithered to the otherside where I was able to get a good grip on him.... only he was still attached by the tail and I lost my grip yet again. We mimicked birds and swept around with a broom but he never reappeared. This was going to be my first snake of the season so I was pretty reluctant to let him go. There were only 10 minutes left of rest hour though, so I headed back towards the office to put my supplies back.
There are two doors out of the junior bathrooms-- one on either side. For some reason I went out the farther one even though I knew I would have to walk all the way around the lodge. Lucky for those juniors that I took the long way because only a few steps from the door there was a copperhead! It was my lucky day! I knew that I couldn't let this guy get away but no one would hold the pillowcase open for me (can you blame them?!) I just had to go for it though, he was pretty docile so I was able to grab him after just a few attempts at slithering away. I maneuvered the pillowcase so I could slide him in without having to put my hand near his mouth. It went incredibly smoothly despite my entire body shaking from the adrenaline.
Well I wasn't going to let this guy out of my sight. I put him in my cabin to hang out until I got done teaching Curosty. As soon as dinner was over I was going to release him but I got a second surprise! There was another little snake on the other side of camp! Back to the office for some tongs and another pillowcase! The counselors said they didn't know what kind it was but that it had a triangular head. Fortunately it was just a scared and puffed up little garter snake because I don't think I could have handled 2 coppers in one day! I scooped him up and immediately headed to my car to release them (in different locations, of course).
After I got my pictures, I touched his tail to get him to head towards the tree line. He didn't even turn around! Just started making his way slowly, sniffing as he went along. It was a life goal of mine to catch a venomous snake and I was super disappointed last year when I never came across one. I am so happy that this was such a pleasant [first] experience!
The baby garter snake was another story. I drove a ways away to let this guy go and he let me just scoop him out of the bag. He sure didn't like my camera in his face though! He kept puffing himself up and barring his teeth at it! I snapped a few pictures before he'd finally had enough and tried to nab me then I sent him on his way. Cute little bugger! He was so tiny!
So like I said, it was a day full of mixed emotions. One snake didn't make it, but 2 more are happily exploring their new homes. Next up on my list? To catch a rattler-- bare handed! Cheers!