SunShine and the Snake
Whether it's a snake in your boot or snakes on a plane, many people squirm when confronted with serpents (it may even be written in our DNA).
But not SunShine McCurry from North Carolina, who the Internet is lauding for how she removed a non-venomous black snake from her home. Video of the capture, originally posted to her Facebook account, has already racked up several million views and counting.
Standing around the corner from the snake, which rests under an armchair in her living room, McCurry psyches herself up, tiptoes around with a pillowcase in hand, and grabs it from the top of the head, maneuvering it into the makeshift sack.
Hollering in triumph, McCurry grasps the wriggling snake as it squeezes its head from an opening in a pillow case and squirms to get loose. Emptying the snake near a concrete slab, she estimates it to be five to six feet in length. She eventually puts it near a river to prevent it from returning to her living room.
According to the North Carolina Association for Institutional Research, the summer season is snake season, when serpents may more frequently come into contact with people, particularly at night.
Approximately 37 snake species can be found in North Carolina, but only six are venomous, and of those six, the copperhead is the only species widely distributed throughout the state.
A fear of snakes is common, so common in fact that one study found nearly half of all people feel at least some anxiety near snakes.
McCurry's only injury while removing the snake seems to have been getting "musked" or sprayed with an intense odor snakes use for everything from defense to marking their territory.
If you find a snake in your house, the Humane Society recommends gently brushing it out through an open door, or placing a container over it to contain it until local animal control arrives and humanely removes it. The society also notes that for anyone brave enough, non-venomous snakes can be picked up with gloves and carried outside.
Deliberately handling snakes increases the likelihood of getting bitten, though venomous snake bites are rare in the U.S. and rarely result in death.
Commercial snake repellents are not recommended by the Humane Society for their use of toxic chemicals and small likelihood of keeping snakes at bay.
While McCurry wasn't crazy about the idea, having snakes in a yard has benefits. Unattended scraps and debris can attract snakes looking for food and shelter, but in wooded areas, avoiding snakes is nearly impossible.
Black snakes are often mistakenly killed by those who fear them to be venomous, but snakes serve an important role in the ecosystem by keeping rodent and insect populations in check.
Writing for the National Wildife Federation, David Mizejewski, a naturalist and co-host of NatGeo WILD's TV show Pet Talk, argues for letting snakes live naturally in human ecosystems, saying if one shows up in a person's backyard "they're doing something right."