The baby snake in the restaurant parking lot was going to get run over if I didn't help it. But was it a milk snake or a coral snake?
This was back in 2004 before everyone had a Smart phone. I tried to remember the rhymes that help identify which snake is harmless and which is venomous.
"Red on black, better jump back. Red and yellow, okay fellow." But I couldn't be sure, damn it. And even though coral snakes are venomous, I still couldn't bear the thought of one getting squooshed under a car.
So I picked it up.
Now, many of you are either shuddering with disgust or shaking your head at my stupidity, but I've been handling snakes since I was a little girl and I've owned king snakes, garter snakes, and ball pythons. I know how to pick up a snake safely.
But what I didn't realize was that tiny little baby snakes--and by tiny, I mean about a foot long stretched out--have very flexible necks.
I didn't want to hold the snake too tightly around the head area for fear of harming it and it took this opportunity to weasel its head around to bite my hand.
I firmed up my grip on the snake and scooted over to a grassy area beside the restaurant where I released it. I'd done my good deed for the day. But was I now going to die of a snake bite?
I could just imagine going to the ER and how reckless the doctors would think I was for picking up a possibly venomous snake. And yes, the potential embarrassment kept me out of the ER. Also probably stupid.
I did know that coral snakes tend to have to chew on their "victims" in order to inject their venom. They don't have fangs like rattlers, copperheads, and water moccassins. The snake I'd helped had struck me in defense, but hadn't gotten any fleshy areas like the webbing between my fingers.
So the hubs and I checked into our hotel down in Ft. Walton Beach and I got on the internet to look up the snake. But by this point, I couldn't quite remember which colored bands touched each other. Coral and milk snakes are so similar in appearance; both have red, black, and yellow rings.
Ugh! Damn my embarrassment. I felt fine and decided to not go to the ER.
And guess what? I was okay the next morning.
So stupid or a perpetual wild-animal-good-deed-doer? I'm going with the latter. I suppose I've been lucky so far. I've helped many animals and have never been injured or seriously attacked. If it's in my power to help another creature, I'll take calculated risks to help it. That's just the way I am.
And you know what? I still can't remember the damn rhymes for milk vs coral snakes.