Why did it have to be snakes?
September 19, 2017 9:00 PM   Subscribe

This is on behalf of a friend who keeps finding these guys in her apartment. Can anyone identify them and safe ways of removing this unwanted houseguest?

For extra info, friend is in Washington DC.
posted by ultranos to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That looks like a juvenile rat snake in a classic kinked posture but it's a bit hard to tell the scale from the provided image. Adults can grow quite long--5 feet or so. You can get reptile tongs for snake removal, but your friend may wish to contact the landlord so that a professional may be consulted in order to figure out where they're coming from and close up whatever holes they're using to get inside.
posted by xyzzy at 9:10 PM on September 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ah yes, your friend should definitely call her local vet or zoo and find the phone number of a snake catcher. While python-like snakes are not generally venomous, they can, if irritated---and anything seems to make them irritable---inflict a nasty, painful and bloody bite. Before calling the snake catcher, she should firmly seal the place where the snake is, so that he/she (the catcher) doesn't waste their time looking for the beast: a snake can ooze under a one-inch door gap and they really seem to like to hide in toilets, and behind bookshelves.
A bigger concern is the fact that she seems to see them on a regular basis. I can think of three possible reasons: first, snakes are fairly regular in their habits and your friend's apartment is on the snake's hunting circuit; second, that, for the same conservative reason, this is the snake's birthplace and he/she keeps returning to it (check the building ceiling!); and third, that it is near a mating place, and the snake is on its way to have a good time (or back, I suppose). There may, of course, be several of these guys from the same family, which will make getting rid of all of them, particularly any females, a pain.
The only way out is to try to track its path and permanently block off the entrances and exits. That means lockable screen doors and windows, for example, and unnoticed holes in walls. Good luck, this could be a long process.
Oh, and of course if she has a pet cat/bird/small dog, the snake already knows about it.
posted by alonsoquijano at 10:14 PM on September 19, 2017 [11 favorites]

Chances are quite high that your friend's apartment building has a rodent infestation. She should show caution around the snake and definitely get in touch with a snake catcher, but she also needs to get her landlord to investigate the rodent situation and get it dealt with.
posted by Mizu at 4:00 AM on September 20, 2017 [14 favorites]

Seconding Mizu's comment. WashPost just had a blurb on the exploding rat population in DC.
posted by k5.user at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Black rat snake is a good guess -- they're common in the DC area and in the fall, like to come indoors to find an undisturbed place to overwinter. The juveniles have that black and gray diamond pattern. We've had a few of these guys in our basement. They're benign as snakes go, and yeah, are probably helping with a rodent situation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:21 AM on September 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

This looks like it may possibly be a python. And it's in an apartment? My guess is that someone's pet snake might have had babies awhile back and they got loose. If so, you can call a local rescue and have them come out to catch them and take them away.
posted by Vaike at 9:42 AM on September 20, 2017

Yeah, the point about scale is well-taken. I was thinking the pictured snake was like 1/2" or 3/4" in diameter. But looking at the pic again, I can see how it might really be more like 3" in diameter, in which case it's not the snake I was thinking of.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2017

baseboards are typically 4" to 6" high, so it's a little feller.
posted by rudd135 at 3:13 PM on September 20, 2017

Point taken about the scale, which I apologize for; that was the photo I was given. As an update, friend's landlord was notified and showed up to remove our scaly friend, so hopefully something will happen on that end. She also told me to thank the MeFi Hivemind for the help.

(While I was a budding herpetologist as a kid, the lack of reptiles around made me abandon this career path. So I was rather useless as a source of advice on my own beyond "yep that's a snake; it's...probably not a viper?". Thanks everyone!)
posted by ultranos at 8:34 PM on September 20, 2017

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