Mucking about in the shed, (like all blokes should) I heard a noise and then a squeak and saw the desperate face of a mouse or rat entwined in the tightening coils of a snake. So much for this new house being unoccupied when we moved in.
Anyway, this being Australia, home to seven of the worlds ten most deadly snakes, and me not been too clued up on snake identification, I did the most responsible thing I could......
I called my mate.
"Hey mate, I found something in my shed....."
"A snake? Was it a snake?" He asked impatiently with great expectation.
"Yeah, and I........"
"Address! What's your address??" He demanded and hung up on me as the words trailed off my tongue. I found myself telling the dial tone that I think the snake caught a mouse.
My wife saw me speaking into a quiet cell phone and asked what was going on, so I did the next most responsible thing I could do, I avoided the topic, like any bloke should. And then added: "Oh buy the way Honey, my mate might pop round soon." And that's when his 4 wheel drive pulled up and out he jumped with a snake catching pole and apologized for being late. (?)
So together we approached the shed, a formidable team, one warrior with a grin on his face and a snake catching pole in his hand, and the other a little uncertain of the wisdom of all this, suddenly volunteering to 'fetch a torch' just to remain out of striking distance of this unknown foe.
When I returned to the shed I heard stuff falling everywhere, hoping that if my snake catching mate was in the dying throws of envenomation that he had at least taken the bulk of venom and left the snake dry and harmless. In reality he was merely throwing all my stored timber on the floor desperately trying to find its hiding place.
"Gotcha!" he cried and promptly pulled a python from a dark recess.
We were heroes!
But I was sure there was a rat involved. How did it swallow an entire rat in minutes? Did it leave it behind and try and hide when we approached? Do I now have the carcass of a rat hiding in my shed?
Anyway, my mate had to go back to work so he left, "I'll let my little girls play with it then I'll let it go." I'm trying not to be surprised by this place anymore.
I got to work some hours later, (we do shift work), and he casually told me the python is in his pigeon hole in the ward, and he thinks it was overstimulated a little because it promptly regurgitated a dead sticky adult rat onto the hands of a young English girl who was visibly shaken by this whole encounter but none of the local Aussies batted an eyelid. All in a days work in the outback. (I decided not to include a picture of the rat in this blog as we would like to keep it family friendly but email me for pictures if you want.)
At least I knew I wasn't hallucinating when I thought I saw it catch a rat.
We decided that this python is rather necessary in controlling the rat population in the shed so my mate will return it on a day that the wife is not at home and once his kids have had a good play with it.
So soon we'll have two pets, a dog in the garden and a python in the shed! Welcome to rural Australia!