It’s the first day of fall, officially, but the warm summer temperatures have returned. It’s in the high 80s out there I think right now, or I’m just very warm because of our little outdoor adventure just now.

One of the risks one takes of letting one’s cat/s outside – even in the country – is nature itself.

I awoke from my Sunday afternoon nap a little while ago and decided to do my usual head count to make sure everyone was ok and accounted for outside.

Usually, I find them all asleep on the back deck or up in the loft in the woodshed this time of day, but no one was around except for little Summer.

I called, no response. So I put on my sneaks and took a walk down to the start of the path in the woods near the woodshed and there they all were, Baby, Lily, Mia, Zoe, and Haley, in a circle of sorts around some old tree stumps that will one day be fire wood.

Hovering in curled ball at the base of one of those stumps was a gi-normous black rat snake about 4 feet long (ok, that’s gi-normous to me). It was already injured from its ordeal with my felines, but still very much alive, hissing and giving off a malodorous musky stink. Everyone (but me) was delighted with their find. Haley had the lead and was batting at it with her paw while the others cheered her on.

How long the “taunting of the snake” had been going on, I don’t know but I scolded and shoo’d them all away. Haley would have none of it. She was likely the one who pulled it out from under a log in the first place and she wasn’t giving up her prize that easily. Zoe and Mia listened and went back up to the house, but not ol’ Haley.

So I had to go back to the house and get a long stick of some sort. I found my long paint roller extender pole and came back to do what, exactly I wasn’t sure.

Well I used it to thump on the ground to get Haley to back off of the snake and finally she gave up and left…for a little while.

But everyone’s curiosity was still high and they all came back and followed me at a distance while I prodded the snake to move on and get back into the woods where he belonged. I tried to do the Animal Planet thing and get it to curl up around my pole so I could carry it into the woods, but it kept sliding off.

Eventually, I got it to slither across the path and into the woods further away from the house, where I felt sure the cats wouldn’t follow or look.

Rat snakes are native to NE Georgia and South Carolina’s Piedmont and mountains. They’re not poisonous, but they are constrictors. This one wasn’t big enough to go after a cat – even a little cat – but they can get up to six feet long and could mistake a feline for a rat or bird.

The photo here is from the UGA Web site on Georgia snakes, but that’s what I was “playing with” this afternoon.

Rat snakes are important and are our friends in the grand scheme of things and that’s another reason I didn’t want them messing with it. I don’t want them messing with any snake. We do have several vipers here, the cottonmouth, the copperhead, rattle snake, and the coral snake. All very poisonous. I’m not sure cats know the difference between a common garden or rat snake and something more dangerous.

Well I couldn’t get Haley back in the house – where everyone else will stay the rest of the day and I as I’m writing this, I’m looking out the window and there she is, back by the wood shed, sniffing around the tree stumps looking for her “toy.” Everyone else is already fast asleep in a chair or on my bed dreaming of the big catch.