It was our last morning in Goa and I had just finished a great session of bird watching from my front porch. (I will post details of that shortly but this being, by far, a more exciting story I just could not wait to get it out!)
I was pottering around the car park when I heard rustling sounds coming from the garage.
The garage, a mess of old furniture and junk, included a desk that belonged to my grandfather. It had seen better days but I had kept it in the hope of having it restored sometime in the future.
The sounds were emanating from one of the desk’s drawers. In the past we have found remnants of mice nests in those drawers and I made a mental note to tell the gardener to have it checked out.
Later that afternoon a palm squirrel was making a god-awful racket outside the house and I decided to go and investigate.
An adult palm squirrel, obviously upset, darted about the branches of a tree just outside the house. The reason for her distress was immediately obvious. A baby squirrel was trapped in an empty plastic container in one corner of the garage and was squealing for all it was worth. At the opposite wall, motionlessly dangling from the back of the desk , was the rear half of a snake.
The rustling from the desk I heard earlier must have been from a squirrel nest. The snake, alerted by the same sounds had come in for an easy meal. Sensing the danger the mother squirrel must have tried to take her baby away and in the confusion it wound up falling into the jar.
My first thought was to get a good image of the snake so that I could identify it later.
Rushing into the house I picked up the camera and put on a 100mm macro lens and went back and took a couple of images.
All this time the baby squirrel was screeching its head off trapped in the plastic container and, with a hungry snake within striking distance, one did not need to be a soothsayer to predict what was about to happen next.
Hurrying back into the house I switched to a wide-angle lens (EF17-40mm F4L) and ran back to the garage.
By now the young squirrel had managed to jump out of the jar but instead of running out towards the safety of the trees it ran back to the desk and towards the snake that had by now come out of the desk and waiting poised below it.
The snake, probably wondering what it had done that day to deserve such luck, lunged out at the little fellow.
Unfortunately it was at that moment that I arrived. Its fear of me must have far outweighed it’s hunger, for it ditched all thoughts of a free meal and darted away to the safety of the junk at the rear of the garage.
A bit of research on the Internet, (and later confirmed by a friend) identified the snake, (that was well over 2 metres long), as a non-venomous oriental rat snake.
By the time my gardener arrived the reptile was well concealed in the garage junk and we decided to leave it alone, happy in the thought that the incident had no casualties.
The jury is still out, however, on whom to pin the ‘badge of fear’ on.
The baby squirrel that was running for its life. Or the snake who’s fear of humans was so strong that it chose ducking for cover over an easy meal.
There is a third contender for this prize.
And the shaky images of the photographer whose trembling hands tried to capture the entire incident is a definite clue to his identity!