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Experience: I Was Attacked by a Snake and a Hawk at the Same Time

The snake wrapped itself around my arm. That’s when the hawk swooped.

My husband, Wendell, and I own a few acres of land and property in Silsbee, Texas. On 25 July this year, we were mowing the grass; it was around 8pm and still light. I was in the back field driving a tractor with a mower hitched to the back, while Wendell trimmed the plot at the front. The tractor had an open cab with a short canopy that covered my head, but not my hands. Apart from the occasional grasshopper, it’s rare for anything to get in. So when a 4ft snake fell out of the sky on to my arm, it took a moment to register what it was.

I tried to fling it off. Unfortunately, the snake had the opposite instinct it wrapped itself around my arm and, as I swung frantically from side to side, it began striking at my face. I kept flinging my arm around, but its coils only tightened in response. I was screaming, “Help me, Jesus!” over and over. It was a hot day, and I remember thinking, “Is this how I’m going to go out – sweaty and dirty, on this tractor?” That’s when a hawk swooped down and tried to grab the snake.

I don’t think I really processed what was happening until afterwards. I’m usually good at keeping a level head in a crisis, but I was in survival mode, reacting automatically. So was the snake. Understandably, it didn’t want to let go of me, so as the bird attempted to lift it into the air, my arm was pulled with it. The hawk’s wings were flapping in my face, making it difficult to see. Its claws dug into my skin, and all the while the tractor was still moving forwards. The hawk took off three times without the snake, before finally dragging it from my arm on the fourth go, and flying away with it.

The whole incident probably lasted no more than half a minute, but I’d been screaming throughout. My husband had heard me, and as I stumbled from the tractor, I saw him running towards me. Wendell says I was hysterical and that he couldn’t make out what I was trying to say. But he could see that my arm was covered in blood, so he killed the tractor’s engine and bundled me into our truck.

As we drove to the local ER, he asked me again what had happened. “The snake!” I said.

“A snake did this to you?”

“No, no – the hawk!”

Once Wendell understood that a snake had fallen out of the air, it was hard to fathom where it had come from – the field is open land, with no trees. Eventually, we worked out that the hawk must have dropped it in the first place. I’ve seen this happen before – a raptor will snatch up a snake, fly high into the air and drop it on a barbed-wire fence to kill it. Perhaps this hawk had lost its grip, or miscalculated.

By the time we reached the hospital, I could barely see out of one eye, but that problem was solved by removing my glasses the right lens was smeared with snake spit or venom. Once my arm was cleaned up, we could see it was covered in cuts and abrasions caused by the hawk’s talons, and bruises left by the snake. I had no idea what species either was, I only knew the snake had been dark in colour, and the hawk was brown and white.

There was some concern I might have been bitten, but I’d experienced a snake bite on my other arm two years before and knew how painful it was. On that occasion, my blood pressure had gone way up, my arm had turned black and purple, and I was affected for a month.

This time, I was given antibiotics, sent home and told to watch out for unexpected developments. The pain got worse as the adrenaline wore off, and I didn’t sleep that night. In the weeks after, nightmares kept me awake. I’d relive the incident in my dreams. A few months on, the cuts are still healing and I don’t know yet whether there will be permanent scars. There have been positive consequences, though our local congressman presented me with a flag and a proclamation for fighting off danger, and someone in LA wrote a song about it, which was pretty cute my daughter showed me the video on TikTok.

We’ve bought a new mower, too, with a longer canopy. I’m taking no chances we stuck a sign on the top, which can be read from above. It says: “No snakes.”

Source: The Guardian