I just found a snake in my basement. I’d gone downstairs to the basement to turn off the ceiling fan, when I heard a weird rattling sound coming from my water heater. The water heater is under the stairs, in a small area without much light, so I got up close to the heater and peered into the darkness to see if one of the pipes coming out of the top had sprung a leak. It was too dark to see much, so I got a flashlight from the kitchen upstairs, and went back down to the basement. I turned on the flashlight and....there was a four-foot (1.2m) snake coiled up on top of the water heater, just a few inches from where my face had been a few moments before.
Well, that was a surprise. Living in the country in an old farmhouse I get mice in my house regularly, and lots of crickets, but this was my first time hosting a four-foot snake.
I recognized it as a Fox Snake, which normally aren’t aggressive, but he got a bit angry when I bonked him on the head with a wooden dowel and he fell off the heater and onto the floor. Now this got me worried, because I was afraid he’d slither off and hide somewhere and I’d wake up some night with a snake coiled up on my chest. I’ve heard of that happening to backpackers who like to sleep outside under the stars.
Fortunately, he just slithered under the water heater, and I was able to prod him with the wooden dowel until he moved out into the open. But boy, was he angry! He was hissing VERY loudly, and raising his head and striking at the dowel, and just being uncooperative.
I went outdoors to the shed and got a shovel, thinking my only choice was to chop the little fellow in half, but then I picked up a rake also, and I brought them both downstairs to the basement.
As I looked at that poor snake, my heart melted. The nights are getting colder here in Iowa, and I realized he was just looking for a warm place to spend the night, so I leaned the shovel up against the washing machine and I picked up the rake and maneuvered it around the snake until he was wrapped around the tines. We were good to go.
I very carefully walked him up the stairs, turning the rake around and around to keep him entwined in the tines as he continued hissing and striking out. I walked him outside, down the driveway, and across the gravel road to the ditch on the other side where he untangled himself and slithered away.
So I’m feeling pretty good about myself now. The whole situation could have ended badly in so many ways, but I kept my cool and both me and the snake can sleep in peace tonight. Unless, of course, he decides to come back.