Freaky Friday – Intense Exercise vs. Snakes in the Kitchen

Every evening before supper, Dinner Table Doctor comes home from work and exercises. He is very disciplined and rarely misses a day. He will frequently remind the rest of the family that we each need 30 minutes of exercise a day and much of that should be moderate to high intensity, meaning we need to get into the zone where our heart rate is 60-75% of its max.

I am not a fan of exercise. I’ll do it, but not regularly and not with high intensity. Once, while enjoying a large plate of pasta, I wondered aloud if it was truly necessary to put so much sweat and effort into getting a high heart rate. What if I had an elevated heart rate for another reason, like maybe I saw a snake in the house?

It sounds preposterous, but there was a time several years ago when we had snakes in our house. The first sighting occurred while I was making breakfast for my toddler and my baby was sleeping. My toddler walked into the kitchen and said, “Mommy, there’s a snake.” She was calm, so I had to pretend to be calm. The snake was right by the breakfast table. My husband and son were away on a camping trip, so it was up to me to handle the intruder.

My first instinct was to grab the kids and run out of the house screaming. Since the baby was in her room, I would have to let the snake out of my sight to grab her, and who knows where the snake would slither off to? Keep in mind that our bedrooms are on the first floor, and I did NOT want a snake hiding in the bedrooms, or the bathrooms, or anywhere! My second thought was to leave the baby and call the police for help, but I suspected the police might frown on my behavior. Realistically I knew it was a harmless garden snake, so instead I did the bravest thing I have ever done. I mustered my courage and swept that snake into a tupperware for my son to deal with when they returned. He released it into the woods in our backyard, assuming that was its home and it had somehow lost its way and ended up in our kitchen.

Two days later, there was a snake in my kitchen AGAIN. It looked like the same one, and when I screamed, it started to slither down the vent. I could not bear the thought of a snake living in my vents, so I grabbed a loose baseboard and smashed the snake. I figured I already gave it one chance to return home, and it squandered the opportunity. There was not much remorse.

When it happened AGAIN, I knew we were dealing with more than one snake. (When I say “we” I really mean just me, because DTD was completely unconcerned about snakes in the house!) Because I’ve watched Billy the Exterminator, I knew we could have a nest of hundreds of snakes living in our walls. I wanted to move, but that would take a while, plus we would probably have to include the snake issue on our disclosure form. I called around for an exterminator. Sadly, reality television does not reflect reality, and the first 8 exterminators I contacted would not deal with snakes. One guy actually told me garden snakes were “no big deal” and “they live in everybody’s walls. We just don’t usually see them.” Let that sink in…

I finally found someone who put traps of sticky paper in my house with a heat lamp. We caught a total of 18 snakes in the basement and the kitchen and garage using this method. I began to sit quietly and motionless outside with a weapon (like a shovel or trimmers) for hours, waiting for snakes to slither to warm areas of brick or concrete so I could kill them. I became a cruel, heartless murderer of any snake who dared enter my yard, let alone my house.

I am positive my heart rate was elevated a MINIMUM of 30 minutes a day for months in a row. I must have been in the best cardio shape of my life. So my question to DTD was, could I be heart-healthy by being scared to death on a daily basis, in lieu of actual physical activity? He called my bluff by reminding me of how I stopped being scared and started being a crazy warrior mama. Plus we ended up finishing our entire basement and eventually found and sealed the entry point for the snakes. Some new threat would have to scare me each day and then I would probably have a heart attack, since chronic stress is actually bad for your heart.

For several years I killed any snake on our property, and whenever we went on vacation I put sticky paper everywhere. My daughter walked down the steps to the basement once and got sticky paper stuck to her blanket and clothes and hair. Apparently it was very traumatic for her. My children thought I was truly deranged, which I was. Eventually I toned down my attitude. I couldn’t handle the horror in my kids’ eyes when they witnessed me slicing a snake in half. I am not proud of my behavior. It was temporary insanity. Thankfully, we have not seen a snake for a long time. The down side is I now actually have to exercise in order to increase my heart rate.

If you want more details on how to measure your heart rate and enter the proper exercise zone, check out this useful link: Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

If you want more details about the snakes and my expertise in hunting and destroying them, just ask in the comments!

  1. Teri, you are braver than I even imagined!!! I think I’d rather exercise with the Doc rather than face snakes!!! Good column!!!!


  2. First, I must say that I enjoy your funny stories more than this one, mainly because I am beyond terrified of snakes, but also because I probably was at your house around the time of our kids being that young age (preschool)! Second, I definitely would have moved, because we had one snake in our yard (I swear to you it was the size of python), and I took an axe to it multiple chops screaming as I surely scared our neighbors and my children. If i had several, or in my house, I cannot imagine my terror!


    1. Too Funny! You’re right – you probably were in the house then, but I wasn’t as open about the issue at the time! I wish I witnessed your axe murder – it sounds glorious. We would make a good team. We could have our own reality show of snake killing moms!


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