Day: April 11, 2022

An Unexpected Visit From Jormungandr’s Cousin

Sigyn and I are at the herbarium again. Sigyn is helping the human female with the various mustard specimens. She’s developing a good eye for the subspecies of Lepidium virginicum. (Sigyn, that is. The human female is still clueless.) I’m here to make sure nothing untoward happens to my sweetie. There are hundreds of cabinets in this place, and if she got locked in one, it would take ages to find her. That’s not even considering all the bookshelves, the boxes, and various assorted cubbyholes.

Sigh. This is so boring. Nothing exciting ever happens here, and —

Great Frigga’s Corset! What’s all the hollering?! One of the herbarium workers has just come in from the hallway and says someone in one of the other research groups housed in this mammoth building has found a snake in their area! A live snake! (Since the University’s collection of animal specimens is housed out here too, a dead-in-a-jar snake would be nothing out of the ordinary.)

How you can tell the place is full of nature nerds: Everyone, including the human female, is running toward the snake, hoping for a glimpse. Will it be venomous? Will it bite someone? We don’t know! We just all want to see! Sigyn says she’s not scared if I’m there. Stick close, my love! I have a certain rapport with most ophidians and will see that you remain unharmed.

I see it! The little fellow (?) actually has his head between an open door and the door casing, a most perilous position. The discussion now is about how to get it out of there without crushing it or being bitten.

But what sort of snake is it? That will largely determine how we all proceed from here. We can see it is not a rattlesnake or coral snake, nor does it look like a copperhead. That only leaves water moccasin on the list of local venomous snakes.

Aha! Someone closer to the snake than I has noted the upturned snout on the beast. That would seem to indicate that we are dealing with a Hognose Snake, a species harmless to humans. Their venom is weak and their usual method of dealing with conflict is to play dead. This is something I want to see!

Odin’s Eyepatch! This snake has chosen to go straight to Plan B! It has flared out a hood and is declaring itself to be a deadly cobra! No, wait–it has made its head broad and triangular–it’s a deadly viper! It is striking and hissing and threatening to dispatch all of us! Such a show of baseless bravado!

The human female is suggesting a broom and a bucket for collecting this fierce thespian. A bucket being unavailable, a wastepaper basket has been substituted.

Oooh! He is NOT amused! We are getting treated to more strikes and a good view of its pink gullet.

Sigyn wants to know what she’s looking at. Here, sweetie, let me use my magic to show you.

The black dots are his eyes and the red dots the corners of his mouth. You can see that he’s widened his jaw and flattened everything out to give himself a bigger head. It’s quite a neat trick!

Well, that was exciting. The human female and one of her colleagues are going to take Mr. Hognose outside and put him in the shade near water so he can go about his business of eating toads and other small creatures.

It’s not every day that dull herbarium work turns into a live-action natural history lesson. I’m glad I came out!

Now, what can I plan for tomorrow….?

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