|Any SECRET HOLES here?|
I lunged and grabbed onto that last bit of tail for dear life.
Slinky fought me with every bit of his muscled body. He wanted to go into this hole underneath our cabinet, but there were several problems with this:
(1) This newly discovered hole goes directly into the bowels of our house, completely inaccessible (barring destruction of our bathroom cabinetry and drywall).
(2) Slinky must be kept at a balmy 76-79 degrees, otherwise he will be unable to digest his food and die. Our house is pretty darn cold at night, even in the summer.
(3) The cats would like to eat him. So if he were to emerge back into the bathroom at night (corn snakes are nocturnal, as are cats), he would likely meet his doom.
Therefore, if I were to let go of those last few inches of my daughter's corn snake, Slinky would become a doomed, feral cornsnake, and we would spend weeks, or possibly months, seeking him out -- dead or alive -- in the ductwork of our house.
Slinky writhed fiercely against my grip while Hub-D and I problem-solved.
"What's our plan?" he asked me, as we gaped at each other.
"My current plan is to never let go," I said. And it seemed the snake and I were at a stand-off.
Although I was covered in sweat and had both of my shaking legs braced against the bathroom cabinet, I would not give in.
Nor would Slinky. It seems he had tasted freedom in the labyrinthine bowels of our cabinetry, and was not prepared to relent. I also wondered whether snakes even HAVE a "reverse gear." Could they be like kangaroos, who simply cannot go backwards?
Gigi stood near me while I held this pointy orange tail with everything I had. "You know whose fault this is, don't you?"
"I left him unattended, didn't I?" I said.
"Yes, you did."
It was 8:30pm. Hub-D reminded me that we had brunch reservations the next morning at 11:30am, so that really was our only "deadline" for removing the snake.
But I was NOT going to let go of that recalcitrant tail, even for mimosas.
Slinky wriggled and writhed. I was pretty sure he was going to poop on me. He was mad as hell, and kind of confused, I think.
I felt the same way, except I was mad at myself for leaving a five foot corn snake unattended in a bathroom which secretly harbored a tiny snake-sized hole under the bathroom sink. And I was very sweaty.
Hub-D began to coach me. "Pinch the part nearest the hole," he advised. "Then squeeze below it."
I thought about when I used to milk goats at The Country School in Ohio. I followed my goat-milking muscle memory and pinched the scaly bit closest to the hole.
To my amazement, Slinky retreated one millimeter. I continued milking the snake in miniscule increments until I had about 11 inches of Slinky in my possession, as opposed to my original 10 inches.
"Whose fault is this?" said the six year old behind me.
My face was dripping with sweat, but my hand remained steady. Milking, milking. One more millimeter. Writhing, wriggling, pulling against my hand. One more millimeter.
Then he was still for a moment. Tense, but still. And after long stand-off, during which Gigi asked me to take the blame several more times, Slinky finally switched into reverse. Snakes DO have that reverse gear, I am delighted to report.
And he gradually, very gradually, slithered out of the Hole of No Return. I finally had his head back in my possession and I looked deep into his wee red eyes.
"I am SO SORRY," I said to him, checking him all over for scale damage. He seemed a little resigned and thwarted, but he otherwise unperturbed.
As he scooted back into this cage, I reminded him, "This was my fault, Slinkster." And his warm red light blinked on, keeping him hearty for another day.