We were coming home from a vet visit. Steve (short for Stephen Kingsnake) traveled in a pillowcase tied with a ribbon. This is actually a recommended and inexpensive travel container because a pillowcase allows oxygen flow, but keeps the snake calm because they can't see through the fabric. However, after the vet had seen Steve, I didn't tie the ribbon tight enough. And as I was driving home, unbeknownst to me, Steve slithered through the slack and disappeared into the dash of my husband's car.
I discovered his escape when I drove into the driveway and picked up an empty pillowcase on the passenger seat. A search of the small Sunfire yielded nada.
I spent the next couple of hours lying on my back in the driver's side footwell with my knees bent and my feet on the driver's seat shining a flashlight up into the bowels of the dash. No snake. And it's not exactly like you can call a snake and it'll come to you. Snakes have vestigial ears; they can't hear a thing.
Man, what a bitch! I'd just lost one of my three cats to bone marrow cancer a few days before and now my pet snake was LOST, too???? How in the hell was I going to get him out? Could he get out of the car by crawling through the engine? Was I ever going to see him again???
When I told the hubs what had happened, he said, "Um, you're driving MY car from now on. I don't want a snake popping out on me."
A week went by with no sign of Stephen Kingsnake. I figured he must have been able to exit the dash via the car's underbelly and had probably slithered off into the neighborhood. Boy, was I ever bummed out. I loved that snake. He and I were buds. After several days of not finding a snake anywhere in the car, I figured he was either gone or had died.
So it came as a complete surprise when I was driving home from work and Steve pops out of the dash near my feet as I'm doing 65 mph on the interstate in the CHICAGO area.
And when I say popped out, he POPPED out. Exactly like you see in the movies where a snake drops down onto an unsuspecting passerby in the jungle. Except this was from underneath the dash in a Pontiac Sunfire.
I had to make a blind grab for him since I was in the middle lane and going way too fast to look away from the road more than a couple of seconds or pull over. But I got lucky and nabbed the five-foot long Houdini way down near my feet.
So there I was rocketing along the interstate driving a STICK SHIFT one handed while holding onto a snake with the other hand. Because if I let go, I'd probably never see him again.
I had to shift gears with my left hand and steer at the same time, but I managed to veer onto my exit without causing a crash. As I gently tugged on Steve, he began to release his hold on the innards of the dash and I wound him around my right forearm.
Because, you see, I had no way to contain him other than holding him. It was just me and him and my purse (too small) and the car. And boy did he ever smell bad! A pungent, sour odor.
Snakes don't usually have any odor, but when badly frightened, some snakes will emit a noxious scent to deter predators. I was guessing that Steve had had the week from snake hell. No water, no heat rock or sun lamp, and he'd had to endure the terrifying vibrations of the car as I drove to and from work for a week.
Really, I was surprised he was still alive after all that.
But he went on to live another twelve years to the ripe old age of twenty, which is pretty old for a kingsnake.