A snake in the grass, and elsewhere

Thumbnail image for al-martinez-sketch.jpgDogs have a habit of sticking their cold, wet noses into most unlikely places, and poisonous snakes have a habit of biting cold, wet noses that they feel have violated their space. We had a case of that challenging situation just the other day in peaceful, unassuming Thousand Oaks.
A dog stuck his nose too close to a long, slithering white thing crawling along Rancho Lane. Turns out the white thing was an albino cobra looking for a cool place to escape the heat of the valley, same as all the rest of us.

The genre of the snake was discovered when someone took a picture of it and word spread to homeowners in the area to keep their doors closed, and maybe their dog doors too, or the snake will crawl in and kill everyone. Being white doesn't necessarily mean that you're peaceful.

I don't know a lot about snakes but we did have a dog once named Hoover with the annoying habit of sticking his nose into the crotch of visitors entering our house. You had to shove or drag him away to allow the embarrassed visitor in. Women were especially annoyed; most of them anyhow. Some seemed actually pleased with the attention they were receiving.

We have rattlesnakes where we live in the Santa Monica Mountains. One of them bit the dog next door on the---where else?---nose, but he was OK. The Thousand Oaks dog, whose name I do not have, is also recovering nicely, by the way.

I was almost bitten by a baby rattler while I was sitting on the ground hand-pulling weeds. It was my only household chore. I could hum and pull for hours at a time until one day, not concentrating, I mistook a baby rattler for a weed and was about to pull it when I recognized that the weed had a head. I rolled over backward, alerted my wife and never pulled a weed again.

Now I am known as the snake killer of Oak Tree Lane (not the real name of my street) and have killed about half a dozen rattlers that have invaded my yard. One was huge, about six feet long that required assistance by the fire department to dispatch the critter to snake heaven, where the Catholics live.

I feel no remorse in killing a snake that would gladly sink its fangs into any area of my body it could reach. God only knows where that might be. Hoover would know.

More by Al Martinez:
A snake in the grass, and elsewhere
Water water everywhere, but ne'er a drop for water-boarding
Always leave them laughing
"To Be or Not to Be," that was Williams' question
Writing about talking, talking about writing
Previous Native Intelligence story: LA's 233rd birthday

Next Native Intelligence story: The plastic bag ban epic

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