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June 5, 2018

Loose snake in car stops startled Warrenton driver

Photo/Lora Goff
The snake slithers around the center console of Lora Goff’s SUV on Monday afternoon.
Photos/Don Del Rosso
Animal Control Officer Lane Phillippe arrives quickly after Ms. Goff’s 9-1-1 call.
Master Deputy Phillippe tries in vain to find the snake, which retreated to a crevice in the SUV.
One in a million. Who would’ve ever thought? Crazy stuff. Everybody’s worst nightmare.
— Lora Goff, Walker Jones law firm office manager
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The console of her white 2013 Cadillac SRX started to rattle Monday afternoon as the Warrenton law firm office manager drove to Walmart.

Traveling east on Main Street, Lora Goff glanced to the right of the steering wheel, where she spotted a snake slithering through an air vent and her sunglasses.

Terrified, Ms. Goff immediately pulled off Main at Fourth Street and called 9-1-1.

Master Deputy Lane Phillippe arrived quickly.

The Walker Jones administrator hoped Deputy Phillippe would pluck the snake with his hands, putting a swift end to the incident.

But the animal control officer — leery of snakes — instead tried to remove the squirming reptile with a set of long, metal prongs.

That failed, and the elusive snake hid itself somewhere in the vehicle’s interior.

To no avail, Deputy Phillippe searched the SUV, peering under floor mats and in nooks and crannies.

“Should I turn off the air and make it hot?” Ms. Goff asked the deputy.

“They like hot,” he told her.

“Do they bite?” Ms. Goff said.

“All snakes bite,” Deputy Phillippe replied. “But he’s not dangerous. He’s a garden snake. If you don’t mess with them, they won’t mess with you.”

Ms. Goff weighed her options. If she left the vehicle illegally parked along Main Street until the snake escaped or died, it could be ticketed or towed. If she drove the vehicle back to the Winchester Street law office, she risked a snake bite on the way.

“I don’t think he’ll be coming out any time soon,” said Deputy Phillippe, attempting to reassure her.

But, “if he pops his head out, give us a call,” he added. “We’ll try again.”

Nadia Schwarz, co-owner of Earth Glaze and Fire, advised Ms. Goff to put mothballs in the vehicle, close the windows and crank up the heat.

“They can’t breathe,” Ms. Schwarz explained. “It suffocates them. They find a way out or they die.”

“Maybe I’ll try that,” Ms. Goff said.

She drove back to the office. Later in the day, the Rappahannock resident bought at Rankin's True-Value Hardware “glue pads” that trap mice and rats.

“We put in four pads — one under each seat” of the vehicle,” Ms. Goff said Tuesday. “Darned if the snake wasn’t on a glue pad. It looked like the whole body was tangled up on the glue pad.”

The incident proved a first for Deputy Phillippe and the office manager.

“One in a million,” Ms. Goff said. “Who would’ve ever thought? Crazy stuff. Everybody’s worst nightmare.”
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No to northam · June 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm
As a reptile breeder and dealer for 15 years I can assure you that is a harmless juvenile black rat snake.

They rarely bite and will crawl out when it cools down at night.

As for a glue trap , put vegetable oil in a Rubbermaid box with the snake and glue trap and it releases the snake harm free.

These are beneficial animals that rid the mice and rats in the area and are about as harmless as they get.

Very suprising the pd does not have someone that can identify and just grab the animal out of a car.
Bonnie C. · June 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm
Oh for heaven's sake - get a grip people! I don't know where to start here - lol!

First & foremost, I am absolutely aghast that this woman had the audacity to call 911 over something like this. Does she think they have nothing better to do? And then to have a law enforcement officer afraid to touch it. Good grief. The blind leading the blind.

On to the poor misguided animal. For starters, it's nothing more than a juvenile Black Rat Snake, which is probably the most common snake in Virginia. Wherever you happen to be, there's probably one hiding nearby as I type this. They are amazing at clearing out mouse & rats, & since I'd rather not have the latter around my premises, I welcome these snakes with open arms.

Finally - & the absolute most egregious part of this entire episode - is the use of glue traps. These abominations are the height of animal cruelty. Right up there with leg traps in my opinion. Think of yourself permanently glued down to a sheet, unable to escape, & forced to die a slow torturous death from dehydration & starvation, not to mention the stress. Sound like fun? I didn't think so. I hope Ms. Goff manages to wrap her head around that thought for awhile as she tools around in her snake-free Cadillac.
FreddieKrueger · June 6, 2018 at 11:38 am
A glue pad can be cruel if the animal is left to die on it -- but it is my understanding that if the animal and glue pad is promptly removed to a proper location (usually the local woods) then all that needs to be done is to pour vegetable oil on it. After a very short time (just enough time to step back a safe distance) the glue dissolves, and the snake slithers off the pad and into the woods.
I have had to deal with snakes around my house (and twice, in my house) and all but one were successfully trapped and released -- they eat the bleeping crickets and mice, so while I HATE snakes, a properly used glue pad can be a reasonable approach. (Before responding, note that I said "properly used")
And kudos to Ms. Goff for not having an accident -- many people would have jumped out without pulling off the road!
Kay G. · June 5, 2018 at 3:03 pm
Glue pads should be banned from the marketplace. Some people have used them outside for whatever inane reason and killed baby bunnies, birds, etc. Even for catching mice in your home, it's VERY cruel. I would not have liked having the snake in my car either, but it's always good to contact a wildlife organization for suggestions on how to deal with a situation like this.
MissB · June 5, 2018 at 2:50 pm
Pictures shows the snake has round pupils so not a poisonous copperhead. Looks like a water snake.
Glue pads? What a cruel way to go.
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