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Desert Rescue: Saying Goodbye To A Friend

I walked slowly out from under the Beast which was parked over the mechanics pit in my shed. I’d been draining the oil and checking things out from underneath when a Yellow Faced Whip snake slithered out from the engine bay and wrapped itself around my right arm.

Quite often you’ll see click bait on the internet with silly claims about the wildlife in this country all wanting to hunt you down, kill you and eat you, well it’s entirely true. No it’s not I’m just kidding you. Of course we have deadly animals in this country but so does every country, the difference here is we all look and act like Crocodile Dundee so the animals are scared of us. “That’s not a knife!”

Actually that’s true it wasn’t a knife, it was a snake, I was talking about the snake wrapped around my arm and then I got caught up with the silly things some people actually believe about Australia because the internet told them it was so. Despite all that silliness one thing you should know is that the phrases “don’t show them fear,” and “They are more scared of you that you are of them,” is a steaming pile of shit.

Animals here, I presume worldwide, don’t care if you show them fear they react to being threatened, as for them being more scared, how would you know? I do know for a fact, as I slowly made my way out from under the Beast, that I didn’t have a trail of snake shit running down my arm so I hadn’t scared the snake. Although I suppose if you measure like for like the snake must not have sacred me either!

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is be careful with all animals but don’t panic, an animal might not be able to see fear but some can sense it and some have this real knack for sensing it as you are trying to beat the hell out of them or throw them away or something. Take the snake around my arm for example, he slithered onto my arm casually, he didn’t try to bite me he just wrapped himself around me almost as if asking me for a hug before getting me to give him a lift somewhere. The snake would have known I was there before I knew he was there, I suppose that sounds obvious to some people but it’s true and he still didn’t try to attack me so he must have decided I was friendly enough to cuddle. During any movement I made the snake could have bitten me and if I had waved my arm about trying to throw him off he most certainly would have decided that his hug wasn’t a pleasant one a defensive nibble was in order, by then it would have been too late for little old me.

Now getting back to my point, slow and steady movements are always the key, don’t startle the animal, don’t attack the animal and there is a good chance you’ll be saved from it having you for lunch. So there you go, next time some numpy compares us Aussies to Crocodile Dundee and tells you all our domesticated pets eat tourists and that the bush is dangerous tell them they are morons because Dean told you how to survive!

Where was I? Oh that’s right I had a snake around my arm.

I walked slowly out from under the Beast, stepping around the waste oil drum. I gently extended my arm away from my body, if the snake really wanted to strike me on the body I couldn’t have got my arm far enough away. The movement was more a reflex and if that’s the only reflex action I had I was going to be happy.

It was lucky I knew my way around my own shed because that knowledge meant that I could walk without watching my every step, instead keeping my eyes on the head of the snake. I talked quietly to the snake as I stepped up the ladder to the ground level, telling it to relax and that I was going to let it go.

Did you know our snakes understand our Aussie accent? I’m not surprised. You can add that to your Australian facts book to tell others.

From the ladder to the open roller door of the shed was only about fifteen steps but they were fifteen of the slowest steps I had ever taken. Every step I took I was careful to make sure I didn’t hit my arm on the shelves or anything sticking out from them, the last thing I wanted was to agitate the snake by frightening him. Several times as I walked forward the snake reared it’s head to look at me, it wasn’t a threatening look, more an enquiring one. I tried to keep talking to the snake in a quiet and calm voice in the hope to keep that look enquiring and not make the snake feel threatened.

When I got outside the first thing I noticed was how much the temperature had increased, it couldn’t have been much after 8am but the temperature was already pushing 35 degrees according to my internal thermometer. About 20 metres from the shed there is a huge gum tree trunk laying on the ground, it’s been there longer than I’ve lived in the house and had been partially hollowed out with age and regular animal visits. As much as I could have just left the snake on the dirt in front of the shed and he could have found his own way to shade I figured I’d give him another little helping hand, after all I’d already got this far and he’d been nice enough not to bite me.

I don’t mind admitting that between the shed and the tree trunk I did have a few doubts about how I was going to convince the snake his ride was over. Sure I’d been talking to him and we seemed to have worked up a good trusting relationship but was a simple goodbye going to be enough? For some reason I had my doubts.

I held my arm out over the log, “There you go Sammy,” we were on a first name basis by the time we got that far. “You can get off now. Enjoy your new territory.”

Surprisingly enough he didn’t go, he really seemed to be comfortable but he hadn’t paid for the extended tour so I tried a bit harder. I crouched down closer to the trunk giving the snake less distance to jump. Of course snakes jump, add it to your book!

“Off you go Sammy, pull up a trunk, take a load off and lay in the shade.” I was just about to give up when the snake slowly slid towards the trunk gently unwrapping itself from around my arm.

It’s fair to say I was a little bit heart broken, relationships in the Australian outback are hard at the best of times but after spending so much time together I didn’t think it was unfair to expect a goodbye from Sammy as he disappeared into that tree trunk,but I got nothing, not even a wave.

I got over the heart break pretty quickly because within about three minutes I was back under the Beast and removing the oil filter from the side of the engine and an hour later I was finished the service and the Beast was back out in front of the house ready to go on it’s next adventure.

Previous Desert Story here.

8 Comments

  1. Dear Uncle Bert, I don’t know my way around your shed. What should I do if a yellow tailed ship snake decides to wrap itself around my arm?

  2. I felt like reading a horror story. Well, You were plain lucky. You probably spoke in English, and it being the international language, the snake understood it. But I’m sceptic – snakes have no ears.

  3. I loved it! I completely agree about animals and talking softly to them. I do believe they understand your feelings. I used to take care of pets as a business. I never met a dog that didn’t calm when you were reasonable. I did have one cat that was destructive and mean. First visit he calmly walked over as I sat down to pet him, jumped on my leg and bit me! Horrid creature. I was watching the home and cat. He tore drapes, ruined blinds, etc every time I left. Never had a problem with dogs.

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