Where's Wally? Is he under your computer desk, or maybe by your feet looking up at you as you put sugar into your cappuccino?
Lindy Downing had these very scenarios as an eastern brown snake took up residency in her South Australian kitchen. She decided to call him 'Wally' as he eluded two snake catchers for almost three weeks - only being seen in brief moments before moving off.
Living near the Goolwa Channel, Lindy is used to having snakes on her property, but not inside her house. She first saw the slithery tenant on Wednesday, November 9.
"I was in the loungeroom and I heard a noise. Tilly (the dog) ran into the kitchen and (following her in), all I saw was a mouse under the table, and then I saw a snake under the computer desk," she said.
"I shut the dog in the bedroom... my adrenaline was through the roof."
She tried calling snake catchers but they were unavailable and when they did arrive on at least two occasions, Wally wasn't to be found. In the meantime, Lindy set up a makeshift barricade to the kitchen using an old For Sale sign and a stool, and sealed the gaps with steel wool.
Trying to find humane ways to trap him herself, she put down netting, but watched him slide through the holes. She made a tube with fly wire and put a baby rat in it, plus a mousetrap, hoping Wally would be enticed to eat any vermin and get stuck in the tube, but that didn't work.
Another method Lindy tried was putting an egg in a milk carton, but again had no luck. She also put dirt around the floor so she could see any marks if he had been slithering about.
Lindy still kept going into the kitchen each night to heat up her fast meals and for Tilly's food, but tried to avoid it as much as possible.
"I knew I was pretty safe as long as I watched where I stepped. It was still somewhat unnerving," she said.
One day Lindy decided to get a cappuccino from a nearby deli but forgot to get sugar. She went into the kitchen, put her coffee down to reach for the sugar bowl, and looking at the floor, saw him at her feet.
"He had his head up and his beady eyes were looking at me. He said 'you're big' and I said 'you're a bit scary' and he said 'you're a bit scary too'. I walked away and the coffee sat there for two days."
Tilly seemed a bit perplexed by the experience, for example no more kitchen dining, being confined to the bedroom at night and never being left home alone.
Ange Broadstock from Snake Catchers Adelaide came over and caught him on Monday, November 28.
She found Wally around the side of a cupboard and while he tried to escape, he got caught in the netting and she was able to pick him up. She estimated Wally to be about five years old and 80cm long.
Ange said snakes are just looking for places to keep cool and will often gravitate to tiled areas or anywhere that stays cold.
If you find a snake in your house, she advised to leave it alone and confine it - shut the door and block up the gap underneath it with a towel or anything you can so the snake can't escape until a catcher arrives.
If you find a snake in an open plan area and can't isolate it, watch it and always keep it within sight, so you can easily point to it when the catcher arrives.
Wally hasn't been released just yet - Ange will use him at a venomous snake handling course, which Lindy was keen to attend so she could learn more about them.
Ange said the course was sometimes used by companies who might be too remote for a snake catcher to arrive and staff need to be trained to remove a snake themselves, and the general public who want to learn more and get over their fear of the animals.
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