William Kane was cleaning pollen off his car at his home in Medford on Wednesday when he ran inside to grab his car keys. He returned to the garage just in time to find a black 6-foot-long snake slithering across the floor.
“That’s when,” Kane, 65, said Thursday, “I learned I could scream like a little girl.”
The snake sped off to hide behind a refrigerator.
Kane, a former executive for AT&T and Aer Lingus, ran into the house, yelling for his wife, Mary — then sought out some workers at the Meadowbrook Pointe Links & Spa, the retirement community where the couple lives.
A gardener came by to get the snake but changed his mind after taking one look at the creature. Kane went and called the Suffolk County SPCA.
Suffolk County SPCA Det. Dominic Mozzone, who has what the SPCA calls “dangerous reptile training,” came by a short time later and found the snake, known as a black racer, buried behind the fridge.
Mozzone, using a tool known as a snake pole or a snake grabber, secured the black racer and released the snake unharmed into the nearby woods.
Black racer snakes are indigenous to the area, SPCA chief Roy Gross said. They can be found all along the East Coast, from Maine to the Florida Keys. Though they look dangerous, they’re actually nonvenomous and feed on frogs, lizards, eggs and insects, often smothering their prey.
Gross said black racers can be frightening because they are lightning fast and often dart toward a subject when confronted.
Because they also resemble a venomous snake, the cottonmouth, the SPCA advises residents not to take action into their own hands, Gross said.
“You don’t know what it is, if it’s venomous or not,” Gross said. “Though there are no venomous snakes natural to Long Island, you don’t know if someone was keeping a dangerous snake or reptile illegally — and it escaped. Don’t take a chance.”
“Call us and we will arrange to safely remove it.”
Gross said it is illegal for residents to keep any such snakes and reptiles as pets, and that if people do have them illegally, the SPCA and DEC’s amnesty policy allows residents to surrender the reptile, animal or illegal pet without being charged.
Gross also said while black racers aren’t venomous, they can bite. And, size considered, he said: “I’m sure it scared the hell out of the guy who saw it.”
Yes, Kane said, it did.
“I was born in Brooklyn,” Kane said. “I know rats, I know mice, I know roaches. Snakes? No thank you.”
Of course, this snake tale did have one beneficial if unforeseen outcome for Mary Kane, William’s wife of 42 years.
“I hate snakes so much that after the snake was taken away, I cleaned out the whole garage,” he said.