Yesterday I loaded up our car with months worth of cardboard, paper, glass, and cans to take to the recycling center. Add in two kids who had already done half of their homeschool work for the day. We were taking a break to get this chore done at about one in the afternoon. As I drove down the busy road, I glanced out my window to see several people lounging on a front lawn near an enormous snake. It was fully stretched out and must have been about seven feet long. WTF?

Initially, as we went past, following the flow of traffic, I was shocked. Then I quickly realized it must be a pet. And then I knew I had to turn around so my kids could see. If it had been just me in the car, I would have driven on, thinking okay, that’s cool. But homeschooling has taught me to leap at any opportunity for education, be it mundane or extraordinary. And I was positive my boys would want to see this snake.

I went back and pulled right up to the curb and stopped the car so they could get a good look. I knew we were being nosy, but my natural shyness was overruled by the appreciation of this unique chance. Right away, the woman saw my kids leaning over to look and she picked up the snake and brought it right up to the window. She explained that it was a female red tailed boa originating from Colombia and that they were letting her soak up the sunshine and smell the fresh air. That’s why they were outside with her. She let the snake reach its head and body right into the car in front of my six year old, Young Son. He and Brother were thrilled.

Seeing its distinctive triangular shaped head, I quickly asked, “Is it poisonous?” Fear tickled my belly. The head of this enormous snake was mere inches from my youngest child. The woman said she wasn’t poisonous and she was quite friendly and mild tempered. Ha. My kids reached out their hands eagerly and stroked her scaly skin. She snaked her body, reaching further into the car, tongue flicking in and out curiously. Did you know snakes smell with their tongues?

Young Son touched her on her head. “Whoa, be careful!” I couldn’t help saying, half expecting the boa to open its jaws and remove a finger or two from my son’s hand. But she didn’t. Just flicked her tongue some more and did her long snake wriggle. “Do you want to touch her head?” the woman asked me. “Oh, no thanks, not me,” I answered, trying to sound casual. I don’t think she expected me to say yes. Hopefully, she understood just how far outside my comfort zone I was already, letting my children touch her huge and potentially deadly pet. And I thanked her half a dozen times, incredibly grateful for her generosity, showing her red tailed boa to my awed and humbled kids.

So caught up in the moment, I didn’t think to snap a picture with my phone. This is not the snake we saw, but this is another red tailed boa.

red tailed boa in the grass

image credit

Brother and Young Son were so excited to tell their dad, when he came home at the end of the day. “Guess what?!” they both shouted when he walked through the door. And after they told him, Family Man said, “I never would have guessed that.”