Karmatic Moment of the Week: Snake Rescue

I got an early phone call from my friend and neighbour Kevin today. It’s not odd that he called, he often calls, but it did seem weird it was only 9 a.m.

“Ryan, can you come outside for a minute, I need a hand.”

In slippers and pajamas I wander out into the apartment building’s entrance to see what’s going on and find Kevin carefully examining what looks to be a couple pieces of paper.

“I’ve got a snake,” Kevin says, too focused on the critter to see my surprise.

Turns out that he had innocently thrown a few stickers that the security guards put on his bike (to tell him not to park in the landing) on the ground the night before. In what, we can only assume, was an attempt to score a free meal, a small snake managed to get himself completely and utterly stuck to all three stickers.

I tried to pull the stickers off, but they weren’t having any of it and began taking scales with them. So, with only a quick question of “do you think it’s poisonous?” between us, Kevin and I shooed (an all too willing to be shooed at the site of a snake) Maggie out of the kitchen and set to freeing our no-legged friend.

The snake, which was at most eight or nine inches long, was a bit tense when put it under running water, but ever so slowly we managed to free the little guy. Once freed, we snapped a few photos before putting him in a tupperware bin for transport to a nearby park.

I’m not sure if it was the snake’s small size, or its gratefulness at us freeing it, but not once did it open its mouth or appear threatening at all. And thankfully so, as Kevin learned later the darn thing is, in fact, poisonous.

According to Danwei’s “The Snakes of Beijing” guide (yeah, surprised me they had one too), our little stuck on stickers buddy is a Banded Red Snake.

The Banded Red Snake is one of the most widely distributed snakes in China. It is found in all of the suburban districts and counties. In the 1980s, these snakes were still being found in parks and gardens inside the Third Ring Road, even though they are nocturnal and thus difficult to spot. Perhaps because they like to lurk in old houses, all the renovation and rebuilding has caused their numbers to decline. Now they are only found in certain places, and are extinct from many areas.

8 Responses

  1. I’ve never seen a snake in Suzhou before except for that huge lazy boa in the zoo. In my menmory, the big guy never moves and I don’t even remember seeing its face, plus, they cover him with a duvet in winter…

    Anyway, it’s not easy at all to find a snake in your neighbourhood these days so hopefully that might mean good luck, just like I found a bat in my room the other night, oh, i have goosebumps thinking of it. Seeing a spider in your house has a good meaning too, believe it or not. Hang on, is that why they are made super heroes? – Batman, Spiderman???

  2. I’m terrified of snakes. And I certainly wouldn’t take my chances with any in Guangdong–we’ve got vipers. It’s bad enough that the sign on the path between my office and the bus stop stays “小心有蛇.”

  3. “The snake, which was at most eight or nine inches long….”

    That’s not a snake, it’s a snakelet. Even so, I’m extremely surprised to hear of a nipper lurking in the shrubs at JYY.

    Coming from Oz, I’m pretty used to snakes. We have 7 of the 10 most poisonous snake species in the world.

    However, I’ll be a little more careful. Say, don’t most snakes hibernate in the winter ?


  4. @Tian: Snakeman never really took off though. BTW: Are you still back in SZ? If so, we need to grab a beer.

    @ChinaMatt: Yeah, that would freak me out a bit.

    @Jamieson: Snakelet, love it. Should also grab a drink sometime soon. We keep saying it, and never seem to get to it.

  5. As a snake fan and former snake owner (including of, at one point, a four meter Burmese python), hats off to you. I’m for rescuing imperiled snakes.

  6. I realise its about 2 years since the last comment… but I just read about the golfer getting bitten by a snake at taihu golf course this week… searched for suzhou snakes and here we are!

    Thats the same species of snake in your photo that I’ve seen twice this last summer in Suzhou. Both times in SIP near the customs building and my friend saw one on ganjiang lu while riding his bike. Never new we had so many in Suzhou!

    • Hey Benjamin,

      Funny as I was just chatting about this with a friend the other day and it reminded me of this post.

      Are you sure the golfer was bit at the Taihu course? I saw this post about Melissa Reid who was bit down in Sanya, but is now recovered and playing at the Suzhou-Taihu Ladies Open, but hadn’t heard of anyone actually being bitten here in Suzhou.

      It does make you realize that Suzhou continues to expand into farmland/countryside and encroach on these animals’ natural habitats. I live in a complex just on the west side of the lake and we routinely see ferret-like animals scurrying around the neighbourhood.

      It should be said as well, the snake we found above (poisonous or not) was not aggressive at all, never once trying to strike us while we pulled the sticker (and half its scales) off.

      • Hi Ryan,
        Yes you’re right, it seems it was in Sanya. The original article I read quoted Suzhou I believe, although could be my mistake. Actually the last one I saw flat on the road outside my apartment 🙁

        Its true there are actually some really interesting animals about. My friend keeps telling me about a racoon/badger type thing he saw, although I have no idea what he’s talking about!

        By the way, very nice blog!

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