Trapped by El Cid the Snake

In the front garden of our back-to-front house was a huge garage. It had two roll-up doors at the front for cars, and a smaller regular door at the side for people. Under the side door was a hole. I never took much notice of that hole. I didn’t think it was very important. I was wrong.

One day, I opened the back door of our house and ran down the four wobbly steps. I took only one step along the path before I found myself sprinting back into the house. I slammed the door shut, and then with my heart beating fast, I yelled, “Kids! Don't go outside!”

I headed to a bedroom window with my children following, and we all peered out. Lying on the path between our house and the garage was a huge snake. Its golden scales were glistening in the sun.

We couldn't keep our eyes off the snake. Minutes passed. An hour or two passed. And still we remained at the window. The snake looked like it had no intention of moving either. What were we to do?

“You could ring WIRES, Mum,” one of my children suggested.

Oh yes, the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service might rescue us. They could take the snake away. We'd no longer be trapped in our own home. I flipped through the phone book looking for the right number and then a few minutes later, I was talking to a snake expert: “It sounds like you have a copperhead snake.”

After some discussion, we decided the snake had probably come out of the hole near the garage door.

“Can you come and remove it for us?” I asked.

“No point doing that,” said the expert. “There could be a whole family of snakes living under your garage. If we remove this one, you’ll still have the others.”

“But what shall we do?” I asked. “What if it bites us?”

“Just leave it alone and it won’t hurt you,” said the WIRES man. “It’s probably been living under your garage for years, and it hasn’t caused you any trouble before. As long as you don’t agitate it, you’ll be okay.”

I wasn't exactly happy with this advice, but I had to accept it. There wasn't anything else we could do. Except name the snake. By the time my husband, Andy, arrived home from work, everyone was eager to tell him about El Cid, the copperhead snake. By this time, it had slithered off presumably back down his hole under the garage.

We only saw El Cid on one other occasion. My son Duncan was mowing the lawn when suddenly it appeared out of the long grass. Duncan stepped back quickly, gave the snake plenty of room and it moved off in the opposite direction.

I suppose the WIRES man was right about snakes. If we don't provoke them, they’ll leave us alone.

I found this information on the Australian Museum website:

Copperheads tend to be secretive and prefer to avoid encounters with humans. If cornered a copperhead will hiss loudly, flatten its body and thrash or flick about, but usually without biting. Further provocation will cause the snake to lash out and bite. The venom is powerfully neurotoxic, haemolytic and cytotoxic, and a bite from an adult of any of the species may be potentially fatal without medical assistance.

Some years ago, the cow paddocks surrounding our house were turned into a new housing estate. Our old home was knocked down to make room for a bigger, more expensive, modern dwelling. Our garage was demolished too. When that happened, we wondered about El Cid.

“Do you think the workmen saw El Cid?” asked one of my kids. “Or do you think he slithered away unnoticed?”

I don’t really know. But if El Cid did suddenly appear, followed by all his slithery snake family, I can just imagine the looks on the men's faces. 

Granny Angel has never met a snake on her garden path. But who knows? There might be a family of copperheads living under her garage. I did notice a hole near her side garage door the last time I was between the covers of my book The Angels of Abbey Creek. El Cid might be down there. What if he slithered up in search of some sun? I wonder what Granny would do? Do you think she’d panic? Would she ring WIRES like we did? What do you think?

Have you ever had a close encounter with a snake or other dangerous creature?


Sue Elvis

Australian blogger, author, podcaster and unschooling mother


  1. Oh my gosh, I would be moving I think!! Not sure I could share my property with a snake, even if he/she had been hidden and would basically leave me alone if I left them alone. I would never feel safe!

    I do have a snake story because it is such a great testimony of how God uses all his creation. When we lived in a part of Southern California about 5 years ago or so, there was a little ravine area with plants, etc., that separated us from the people below us with the rows of houses. It was neat; we had wildlife there like quail, roadrunners, coyotes, snakes, both poisonous and none. We had a snake in our backyard area once for a little bit, we figured they were out looking for the quail eggs or baby quail because shortly after that we saw the baby quail with their parents.

    Two doors down from us a lady did day care. The kids of course would play outside weather permitting. One day one of the roadrunners who were in the neighborhood kept banging against her sliding glass door the whole morning. Drove the lady nuts; couldn't figure out why the roadrunner was doing that. Roadrunners eat snakes, both poisonous and non poisonous. Later the kids went out to play in the backyard along with the family dog. The dog spotted a rattlesnake under the bush by the barbecue. Alerted the lady through barking; she saw the snake, got the kids inside safely, called our wildlife services who will come and relocate the snake; can't kill it because it is endangered.

    Strong Christian woman she was. She (and I) truly believe in looking back that the roadrunner was sent to God to warn her about the snake. We moved a short time later and lost track of them, but I'm sure God is still protecting them :) (as He is you and your family)


    1. Betty,

      I can imagine the lady getting irritated by the roadrunner and then later, understanding and being grateful for the warning. How relieved she must have been to get all the kids safely inside. Oh yes, God looks after us. I do agree!

      I did some Googling after reading your comment to find out more about the animals you mentioned. We don't have roadrunners or coyotes and, although we have lots of venomous snakes, we don't have rattlesnakes.

      Thank you so much for sharing your snake story!

  2. We've had a few red-bellied black snakes, in the garden, and lots of red-back spiders, around the house, but the most frightening was a funnel-web spider, in the study. We also had a summer where we kept finding mouse-trap spiders, in the pool. That was a bit scary, especially as they look so much like funnel-webs. We also check the pool for spiders, now, but we haven't found anything bigger than frogs and lizards, for a while - thank goodness!

    1. Vicky,

      I've never seen any poisonous spiders where we live though I've heard there are funnel web spiders here. The worst spider I have seen is a Huntsman. I recently found out that its bite can be very painful. I try to stay away from them, not because they are dangerous, but because I imagine them crawling over me with their large hairy bodies and that makes me shudder!

      I remember seeing lots of spiders at the reptile park a few years ago. There was also an anti-venom display. I suppose if anyone is unfortunate to get bitten at least they can be helped with an anti-venom.

      I hope you don't find anything dangerous when you're scouting around your garden with your macro lens looking for something to photograph!