Trip Details

Location: Linn County, Iowa

Conditions: 78 degrees with no wind.

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Account Written by Matt Ricklefs

Thought of the day: Happy Ending for Wayward Fox Snake

In the past couple of years one of my very good friends, Randy, moved out closer to the country. His parents also moved out there and have a very nice spread which has been dubbed “the resort” by the family. I have been friends with the family for most of my life. As I sat at home watching TV and eating some nachos I received a call from Randy. He notified me that his parents had a large snake in their garage. I of course asked the preliminary questions; how big, what color, etc. He gave me the best description he could and I told him I would be right there.

Randy’s family is great and very close and with the family proper and the in-law extension it is quite large so pulling up to a number of people in the driveway was not a surprise to me. The snake had apparently made quite a trek that evening. It had first been seen by a retaining wall by the driveway. The spooked it down into the retaining wall. Randy’s sister-in-law and one of her daughters are very afraid of snakes and they were told it was gone. Later, it appeared in the garage itself and I was called. It had found its way to the side of the garage on the lip of the foundation behind some stuff in the garage. As soon as I saw a little of it I quickly confirmed that it was indeed a Western Fox Snake (Elaphe v. vulpina).

I grabbed it and pulled it out. I could tell it was good sized, but when I pulled it out it revealed itself to be about four feet long. I also discovered that SHE was quite gravid. For the next hour or so I was able to hold an impromptu clinic explaining that importance of snakes to the environment and that they were not all evil serpents bent on attacking and biting people. Indeed this one remained very calm throughout the talks and at times just rested on my arm “contently”. This was well received and as they are a great group of people they were very glad this turned out as it did. Especially seeing how nice she was and that she would be allowed to be on her way and find a nice place to lay her eggs.

Since they were having a family get together I did remove it from their property. After taking pictures it was released in a nearby suitable habitat the next day. As she was out roaming I am confident that she is still close enough to her home range to be able to find her way around, lay eggs and eventually get to a suitable den area for the winter.

There are a lot of good things about this. 1.) People that took time to appreciate the snake and called me rather than just killing it. 2.) They then took time to learn about it and with everyone, especially kids around hopefully I instilled a sense of interest in them and dispelled a sense of fear. 3.) The snake was not killed and considering it was a large adult female full of eggs that is GREAT!

I wish all snake stories had a happy ending.


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