Woman goes head to head with snake

A 10-inch rat snake coils up after Christina Mitchell ejected it from her house.

Everybody’s got a rat snake story, but few can match Christina Mitchell, who had one drop on her head when she walked into her house Thursday.

Mitchell arrived home from work at 4 p.m. and, as usual, stopped to admire the pitcher plant by her front door.

Pitcher plants attract insects. Insects attract frogs. Frogs attract snakes.

“I just opened my door. I felt this thump on my head,” Mitchell said. “I looked down and the snake had landed at my feet in the house.”

Apparently the snake had been lodged at the top of the door jamb and fell when the door opened (although, given other events of 2020, it might be the beginning of a plague of snakes raining from the sky).

The 10-inch reptile darted behind a box in the kitchen. Mitchell called her husband, Chris, to notify him of the intruder.

Then, being a woman of action, she grabbed a broom and flipped the slithery critter outside.

“He did his striking pose because it was just a scared little rat snake,” Mitchell said. “He tried to bite at my broom whenever I put him outside. He probably thought that was really rude. We kind of had a stare-down.”

Mitchell took a photo and looked it up on Google. Her visitor looked like an Eastern rat snake.

However, Mitchell was a bit concerned because it had large jaws, a characteristic of some venomous snakes.

Nevertheless, it did not match up with any of the venomous species found in Mississippi — copperhead, coral snake, cottonmouth, rattlesnake.  

While pit vipers like cottonmouths, rattlers and copperheads do have large jaws, some nonvenomous varieties do as well.

Rat snakes, also known as chicken snakes, come in a variety of colors and patterns and can reach six feet or more in length.  

Even though her snake was nonvenomous and didn’t bite her, some people might have keeled over from cardiac arrest.

Not Mitchell.

“I actually really like snakes. I think they’re fascinating,” she said.

When she was a girl visiting her grandmother, Marcella Taylor, in Busy Corner, she became familiar with a large chicken snake that hung out around the chicken coop. Taylor called it Charlie the Chicken Snake.

“She never bothered it and it never bothered her,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell took the same approach with her specimen, shooing it away unharmed. “I don’t go out of my way to kill any animals,” she said.

As for the possibility of future encounters, Mitchell isn’t worried enough to, say, move her pitcher plant.

“I just love my pitcher plant,” she said. “I feel like I’ll just take my chances and open my door really slow from now on.”

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