A relative newcomer to the Great American Wild, and not quite so wild as the rest you’ll meet in your travels, you should always be vigilant — or you might end up sharing room and board — with a California House Snake.
Not just venomous, but poisonous even to the touch (some say that merely seeing a House Snake will shave a year off your life, but when the very air we breathe is hazardous to the lungs, who can tell?), the House Snake has adapted in less than the span of three living generations to not only survive in a modern human habitat, but to prefer it. The softly rigid berber-style carpeting seems to be its favorite environment, making a nice compromise between crabgrass and sand (so perfect for the rough of the wild it’s a marvel that humans could have invented it). The House Snake is said to bring fortune to those it reveals itself to (provided you’re still alive to tell anyone), though every time I hear a House Snake story, I’m reminded of the old proverb: be careful what you wish’d up.
A bit like its country cousins the Sidewinder and the Rattler, the House Snake has mastered the art of the coil, undulating its leathery muscled humps up the inside of a wall until it comes upon a vacant mouse hole, gaining ground and staking its claim in what used to be a forgotten corner of your living room. Although technically the most dangerous of any beast in this book, the House Snake is really more annoying than deadly. It won’t attack if left alone, but where there’s one, a nest is soon to follow, and as one quickly becomes five, then five begets ten, before you know it you’ve got a colony of the scaly devils, living off the crickets, roaches, and whatever bits of crumb and cabbage you didn’t clean up as well as you could have.
Native to Central Southern California, in recent years the House Snake has been spotted as far east as Austin Texas, encroaching on the native habitat, destroying the local fauna with its insatiable need to consume. I’d say that once you’re infested it’s easier to pack up and move on than to get rid of it, but if recent history tells us anything, it’ll probably follow you anywhere worth going. Heck, if the Snake could tell it, they probably found the place first.
Chapter Three from my collection of monster stories, Terrible Travelogue, Part 1: The Southwest. You can find Chapter One: The Dancing Deer, here and Chapter Two: The Rock Duck, here.