Friday, April 3, 2009

Our Scary New Housemate

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon, Kate ran into the house and looked at me, in breathless silence, with a horror in her eyes that I had yet to see in all the years I've known her. She was paralyzed with fear. My wife had been gardening beside our house, found a large hole in the ground, and then suddenly she had locked eyes with a monster. "Jake, there's a huge snake living under our house!!" She said after a moment, barely able to get the words out.
Although snakes in Australia are notoriously deadly, Kate and I live in the middle of a big and busy city and have been here for almost two years without meeting anyone who has encountered a poisonous snake. So, assuming that I would probably find a carpet-python (potentially dangerous to our cat but not likely to try and swallow my wife) I went outside, carefully, to have a look. Here is a picture (taken later :) of the hole that Kate had found.
As I circled this hole in our garden (from a good distance) I saw the monster's head poking out of the darkness. It was huge! And it was looking at me too. And it was no python.

I've found a picture on the web of what I saw:

I am far from knowledgeable in the field, but even I can tell you that a python looks a lot more like this:
So here's some culture: In Australia, all snakes are protected species and they are relocated, and not killed, whenever they pose a risk to people. Finding a snake on your property is usually followed by a call to a licensed snake catcher for help. I'm not sure how I knew this. I don't remember anyone ever telling me. I may have seen a licenced catcher once on television on a show called Bondi Beach (the reality TV version of Baywatch - minus the implants). As you might imagine, I jumped online and quickly found a number for the 24/7 mobile phone of the licenced snake catcher assigned to our suburb, a man named Geoff.

I called him and opened with: "Hi... ummm. I don't know how this works, I'm Canadian"
And he responded by saying: "Have you seen a doctor about that?"
It was plain to me that Geoff and I would get along so I relayed the two main facts. Hole in my garden, monster looking at me from inside at which point Geoff promptly stated: "It's probably a blue-tongue mate! Does it have a pointy nose?"
It did, as a matter of fact. But what the heck was a 'blue-tongue'? Well thankfully, a blue-tongue is neither poisonous, nor is it a snake. It is a harmless lizard that's all scare and no substance. Apparently, they also make a horrific noise when threatened. I asked Geoff if our cat was in any danger.
"Nope," he replied, "Your cat would probably win that fight. But have a look at my website under 'identify snakes' to make absolutely sure it's not a brown snake or a red-bellied black snake. Those would kill your cat in one bite." Then he added... "They could kill you in one bite too mate."
Thanks for that last comment Geoff, but I could have done without it. I looked carefully at the man's fantastic website[] and found lots of pictures of the relevant snakes and of the heroic snake catcher himself. I got that 'good guy' feeling as I spoke to him.

I'm going to finish with some educational pictures. First, these two you definitely don't want to find in your garden. The extremely venemous red-bellied black snake and eastern brown snake.

And this is a picture of what our harmless little friend probably looks like. (We have yet to see him out of his hole).
So... to proudly summarize: Kate and I now have a blue-tongue lizard living under our house. How cool is that!

And for the record: I used Google images to find all of these pictures and I'm using them without permission. But you're not paying to read this so I don't think it matters much :) Cheers

1 comment:

Hubbard Family said...

It was funny to read this Simon is obsessed with blue tongue skinks.