He blended in with the weeds so well that I couldn't see him at first. My eyes finally adjusted and I slowly brought into focus the end of his black tail, which was creeping through the tall, purple, Joe Pie and Golden Rod that always blooms this time of September. I stood still, trying my best to blend with nature and allow my eyes to continue to search for the rest of, what looked like a black snake.
I've always had a fondness for this family of snakes. They've be touted as one of God's version of Orkin pest control. They diet on mice, moles and rats and make a great addition to any home or farm. I've also heard the tale that they are also very territorial and will keep away any poisonous snakes too. Wow...who wouldn't want to have a couple of these around?
When I was growing up we found one snuggled among our linens in the bathroom, and this wasn't just any little snake. He was every bit of six feet long. My Pop slipped on some leather gloves and politely walked a half mile away and set him free into the woods. A week later Mr. Snake was back in our cabin, though this time he surprised us from beneath the kitchen cabinet. A little research in the B-C section of our Encyclopedia Britannica library and a conversation over corn bread with Mr. Toy and Ms. Odell, our farming neighbors, and the next thing you know our big, black snake was given a name. Sambo lived with us in our cabin for many years and for the most part would just keep to himself, stay hidden and feast on the rodents that also tried to move in. Every now and then he would show up to surprise us and cause a few quick screams, a sudden stop of the heart, but then you would hear the proud yell, " I found Sam!!".
As I was recalling my memory of Sambo, my eyes finally focused in on the head of the black snake. It looked like he was raised in a defensive position or ready to attack something. It couldn't have been me that alarmed him, there was something else. The flowers and weeds were so dense that I couldn't make out anything in front of him and then suddenly another tail came into focus. It had green and yellow markings and was slowly moving in the direction of Sammy Jr. I witnessed something that I've never seen before. Suddenly Sammy's entire three foot body lurched through the weeds and landed directly at the mouth of the other snake. He didn't hesitate more than a second to begin the attack. I was witnessing that moment of live or die and how I wished I had my camera with me to capture it.
Sammy Jr and the Cobra (OK, he's really just a garden snake) were locked with their mouths unhinged around each other's body. They were both about the same size and kept twisting and trying to use the muscles in their tails to knock the other one loose. Sammy loosened his grip and let his head fall to the ground and I thought it was over, when in fact he was just waiting for the better position. He went for the head and gripped right behind his jaws. His fangs held tight and the only thing the garden snake could do was open his mouth grasping for life. The show lasted another five minutes, though was complete with an encore performance that I wasn't expecting. Sammy opened wide and inch by inch, ate his prey. "You've got the job Sammy" I said as I walked away.