Blairsville, GA — Last week, little did I know that sitting in the serenity of my home on a cold winter day would quickly turn chaotic, stressful, and informative. While I was studying for a college test in the comfort of my living room, my dog Gollum alerted me to an event that, after almost 5 years of living in the mountains, would forever alter my way of supplying the fireplace with logs.
Gollum let out two loud barks from the kitchen, which I quickly dismissed, but then let out a loud yelp that I did not ignore. I rushed to see what the matter was and saw him limping and licking his front left leg. Still not knowing what happened, I walked over to him, and just as I did a 2 ½ foot long, Copperhead snake sprang at my right leg. The snake narrowly missed me but Gollum was not so lucky! I jumped away from the snake, shooed Gollum upstairs, and told my roommate to immediately contact the Vet. I was worried that Gollum might have gotten a fatal bite and that if I did not handle that snake quickly the Copperhead might bite someone else.
Who in his right mind would ever consider that a snake would be slithering around in January after three weeks of below freezing temperatures? As my roommate quickly got Gollum in his car and drove him to the vet, I stood guard in the kitchen where the snake had slithered under the refrigerator. Not knowing what to do at this point, I called a few friends to help in the search and capture of this unwanted and unwelcome visitor. After Brad and Tyler Niebrand’s arrival, which seemed like an eternity but was actually about 20 minutes, the search began to capture the snake. Not sure if the snake had slithered elsewhere without me seeing it through the chaos, Brad and I tore the house apart.
After the other locations were searched and the snake not found, we decided to take off the back panel of the refrigerator. Just as I removed the last screw, and slowly tilted down the panel, THERE IT WAS! Coiled up and ready to strike again. I reached for the machete to show the snake I meant business! I got one puncture wound on his head but this was not enough to disable him. The snake slithered quickly to the coils of the refrigerator where it was unreachable.
After about an hour of cat and mouse, chasing the snake from front to back and around the coils, another friend Joe Nickerson rushed in to help. Joe brought with him a ¾ inch-4-foot long PVC pipe with a small cable rope threaded through to make a noose on the open end. Finally, this tool would help in capturing the beast. After a few more minutes of cat and mouse games with the snake, we captured it in the noose of the cable. The snake was carried outside and met his maker.
After a careful discussion, it was decided that the load of firewood I had carried in earlier was the winter hibernating spot for the snake. There was a small hole in one of the logs and, apparently, the snake was in the cavity, thawed out in the warmth of the home, and crawled out of the log, its fatal mistake. Knowing that a Copperhead this size can crawl into an opening the size of a dime, I have now decided to bring in one or two logs at a time and immediately put them in the fireplace. No longer will I stack firewood in the log holder in the living room.
Gollum is fine now, although his leg looks deformed from the swelling. He will be on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications for the next week. I guess we could say that Gollum took heroic measures in alerting me to the snake, taking a bullet (so-to-speak) when facing down the snake in the kitchen.