The Eep of Death

May 28th, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

The panicked sincerity of even very small creatures can startle. On the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Brewster, the eeps of a mouse stopped my 16-year-old and me in our walk.

It may not have the PBS gory glory of a cheetah and gazelle, but to the principals, the struggle was a fundamental and absolute. The black snake exhibited no compassion, nor fear as it ingest the lamenting little mammal. There is no reason to suppose the snake considered the mouse as cute as we might, with its whiskers and black eyes. It could have been a Steiff model.

We looked over the rail as the mouse squeaked in tiny vigor, shrill and bird-loud, particularly loud for a critter the size of a small candy bar. The snake had already taken his prey half in.

Pic Note: Click on an image — if you dare — for a closer view.

Long view of black snake eating mouseOddly too, no one stopped walking or biking to see what we were leaning over the rail observing. Perhaps I’m a snoop or voyeur; I certainly would have wondered and watched too. Instead, only we two did, while dozens passed speaking of future meals or with a silvery cell at one ear.

We shall never know whether the jaw pressure robbed the mouse of breath enough to squeak or whether it accepted the inevitability of disappearing totally. Shortly, the mouse continued to struggle but made no sound. Then it was gone.

We have owned and named and petted mice. There was no vicarious pleasure in this act of nature. Also, many years ago, a girlfriend, an oncology researcher, slew BALB/c mice by the score. I’d walk down the hall to the freezer with her carrying bags of those who has succumbed to their tumors. This roadside event was a more visceral experience.

Close-up of black snake eating mouseSurely this squamous Cape Codder was merely hungry and playing his role. The eeps are still haunting.

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