Snake in the office?

This morning a snakeskin was found in our office, close to the coffeepot. The courier (a self-proclaimed expert on most things) pronounced it to be the skin of a rattlesnake. (Insert scene of "beats-workin’ " pandemonium here.) Now everyone is gingerly sifting through the messes under their desks and asking when we get to go home. The guy from housekeeping is walking around with a stick, muttering, “The only good snake is a dead snake.” Apparently I’m the only one around here feeling any snakie-compassion.

I borrowed a little rubber alligator off someone else’s desk and cupped my hands around it with only the tail hanging out. Then I went around and asked a few people, “Is this what you’re looking for?” Apparently I’m also the only person around here with any sense of snakie-humor. :smiley:

Would the courier know the difference between the shed skin of a rattlesnake and, oh say a trouser snake?

I found garter snakes twice inside the buildings at my last job. On one occasion I took the snake into the office of one of the company officials to point it out to him. I was amazed at the response. The official – a big, burly guy who coached sports teams, and definitely not a wimp – backed away and told me to Get That Thing Out of Here. His reaction didn’t change when I pointed out that it was a harmless, non-poisonaous garter snake (and a small garter snake at that). The reaction of just about everyone I passed was about the same.
Amazed me. I thought the reaction would be one of interested curiousity. The reaction I got was the same as if I’d brought in a foot-sized Tarantula with visible mandibles. I guess some people have an unreasoning fear of snakes.

Maxx: I have long had serious doubts about exactly what (if anything) the courier knows. :slight_smile:

Cal: I was pretty surprised at all the fuss too. Some people think the skin was left on the countertop as a joke. My private thought was that if I were going to do such a thing, I wouldn’t have expected much of a reaction. Pretty lame.

CalMeacham, that’s actually a pretty tame reaction. I would have screamed bloody blue murder and ran out of the building.

Man, I’d love to find a snake hanging about the office. I love the little guys…

OTOH, if you brought that tarantula anywhere near me, you’d be walking away carring a large pile of hairy goo (and I’d be changing my pants).

That’s probably a good guess. I imagine Ophidiophobia is relatively common, as phobias go.

There is an old trick with a paperclip, a rubber band and an envelope that when the person touches it, the paperclip spins like there is something in the envelope. That could be fun to do today.

I find it odd that the skin was found near the coffee pot, unless it is from the dreaded Starbucksrattler family. Sound to me like the prank has already been done.

You could also bring in a pet mouse tomorrow and let it loose, telling everyone you just wanted to feed the snake.

Has anybody at your office contacted your local Animal Control agency yet? They might be able to send someone over to help identify the snake from its skin (if that’s possible) and find and catch the snake; at the very least, they could offer you some tips over the phone.

[WAG] Your snake, being cold-blooded, may be attracted to heat sources like office equipment and coffee-makers, not to mention sunny windowsills. You can also expect it to be a lot more lively and quick if it gets a chance to warm up.

Here’s a desperate measure: as unappealing an idea as it is, it might not be a bad idea to release a mouse or rat into the office, and keep your collective ears pricked for the sharp squeaking sound when the rodent has its eventual run-in with the snake. :eek: This might prove to be a useful strategy, should your snake prove to be poisonous. While it’s got its fangs buried in the rodent, it can’t really attack you, can it? (How quickly can a snake swallow a meal, anyway? – Because that’s your obvious time window with which to act.)
Please keep us all posted on your office situation… this thread is really interesting!

A suggestion which turns out to be a productive solution in so very many different situations.

My mousie-compassion prevents me from following that excellent advice. :slight_smile:
The housekeeping guy took off with the skin, so I don’t think we’ll be getting a more positive identification than the courier’s (he’s no herpetologist, but he did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.)

This is a fairly big place and I’ve noticed a few thousand snake-hiding-places since this morning. My guess is that we’re never going to get a satisfying conclusion to this story, but I will keep you posted if he turns up.

Ain’t no way I’m cleaning out the mess under my desk, though.

Snakes often enter buildings (although they usually choose little-used buildings) to go through the shedding process. I have been in neglected farm out-buildings where I found dozens of skins in one small building. The species of a snake can sometimes be identified from a shed skin. Some snake species have keeled scales, others smooth scales. Most snakes have scales called plates on the heads, which are larger than their body scales, while others (including the larger rattlesnakes) have small scales on their heads. Some species have a divided anal scute, others have a single anal scute. In some species, the skin pattern is discernible on the molted skin. A good book which lists these identifying characteristics in layman’s terms is Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America by Roger Conant.

**Dung Beetle ** - Where, in a general sense, are you located? About how long was the skin?

There’s some kind of joke there about my workplace being a little-used building, but I’ll leave it alone.
I’m in Florida, and the snakeskin was about a foot long.

The good news is that most snakes are nocturnal, even rattlers. They would likely hide during the day and cruise at night. They would also be most likely to hide somewhere warm, but not hot, and if the hiding place has a thermal gradient (warm side/cool side) be likely to stay there until the next time hunger strikes, ususally a week between feedings.

If you have no rodents, he will leave looking for greener pastures, no matter what species.

The pattern of a snake does show up in the shed skin, so, somebody really familiar with a species could pick it out. Not me, but somebody.

And what a great idea for a joke, can’t wait for my Dumeril’s boa to shed again <evil grin>

You probably already know that there are plenty of rattlesnakes in Florida, as well as lots of other species. Pygmy rattlers are common throughout most of the state. Their adult size is generally under two feet. They often turn up in suburban areas. Canebrake rattlers are found in northern Florida, and Eastern Diamondbacks are found all over the state. The last two get pretty big, and aren’t usually found in residential areas. Since the skin is gone, I guess the identity will remain a mystery.

In my experience hunting for and maintaining snakes in captivity, they enter buildings to shed, then leave. When they escape from a cage in a building, they find a way out of the building.

I hope he finds his way to freedom safely then. Although it would be cool if he scared the crap out of a few people on the way.

I got away with one like this; it wan’t intended to happen, but it ended up being so funny…

I was working in Delaware selling steaks and such from a pickup truck (you’ve seen these guys.) I was the office manager as well, so I had an office of my own, where I would keep unusual things I found or bought. The boss was a personal friend, so I got much more leeway than a standard employee.

One afternoon I was driving and saw a large balcksnake on the road ahead. I thought that someone had run it over, but I still swerved to avoid it, and noticed that it was just fine. I stopped the truck and my companion for that day helped me coerce the snake into an empty box, which I stored on the truck.

When I got back that night we got the snake out of the box. It was about four feet long, and it was fat- apparently filled up on field mice or whatever. It was strong, too- it took three people just to get it back in the box. I transferred it to an empty aquarium I had in my office, tpaed it shut, left a shallow dish of water, and eventually left for the day.

The next day the snake was fine; I resolved to get a better enclosure and went to work on my route for the day. What happened next is the fun part.

There were two people in the office- my boss, Rick and the accountant, Mike. They were talking to ewach other, Mike in the doorway to Rick’s office and Rick at his desk. Mike glanced down the hall and saw the blacksnake slither out from under my office door. He said that it reared up like a cobra and charged him. He leapt into Rick’s office and slammed the door.

Rick got the office defense system out, a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, and stood up on top of his desk, waiting for the snake… to do what, I’m not sure. It’s like he was expecting it to break the door down.

After a few minutes of this, they remebered that the lobby was full of job applicants, so they called our mechanic from the other side of the business complex. After laughing his butt off, the mechanic sent a guy over to help.

The helper had to come in through the lobby and climb through the appointment window to get into the office, because the outer door was locked. He caught the snake in the hallway with his bare hands and carried it out back, where he relesed it. Then he went back in to tell Rick and Mike that they could get off the desk now.

I wondered why Rick and Mike were giveng me the evil eye when I got back that day; I went into my office and only when I saw the empty box did I find out the snake got out. I had to pry to get them to tell me why my snake was gone; I must have laughed about it for days afterward.

Picture it- two men in suits, standing on a desk, holding a shotgun, looking fearfully at the office door…

A guy where I worked in Fort Myers found a pygmy rattler in our office building one morning. I helped herd it into a wastebasket; we released it in the empty lot next door. We never told any of our fellow employees about it, either.


I was just told that a racer snake was captured in the breakroom over the weekend. He was released outside. “Born free, as free as the wind blows…”

If that was the same snake, he was hiding out in this office building for over a month. I bet he’s sick to death of doughnuts. :slight_smile:

Oh, wow. Thanks for the update.