We intrepid, usually on-top-of-it-all Georgetowner journalists were chagrined Tuesday morning, Aug. 7, to learn that we had totally missed a breaking neighborhood story. The headline in the Washington Post’s online edition read: “A D.C. library was closed for more than two days after several live snakes were found inside.”
Not only had we not heard about it in time for our Monday newsletter, but (full disclosure) our copy editor had actually been to the Georgetown Public Library early that day, found it unexpectedly closed and left without asking why. The Post wrote that “a knot of four snakes — likely garter snakes — had been found in the building.”
We determined to get the updated story. It turns out that the four snakes that were found were small: two to three inches long.
“They looked more like worms, except for their heads,” a librarian told The Georgetowner Thursday morning. “We discovered the first one on Saturday in the meeting room and tossed it out thinking it was a worm. Then on Sunday morning we discovered two more in a library reading room and one more in the meeting room. The exterminator was called and the library was closed until they confirmed the snakes had been cleared out.”
But they weren’t garter snakes. “That story came out before the exterminator report,” commented the librarian. “But we’re librarians so we looked them up. Turns out they are ring snakes.”
Officially ring-necked snakes (Diadophis punctatus), the diminutive reptiles are very commonly found in the northern Virginia region, particularly in moist areas, including river floodplains. Completely harmless to humans, they rarely grow bigger than the size of a pen.
“A thorough investigation of the premises did not yield any live snakes,” DC Public Library spokesman George Williams told the Washington Post. “The pest-control company discovered one dead snake. The whereabouts of the others remain unknown.”
The library reopened Tuesday morning.
With all the contiguous rainy days, more slithery critters seeking shelter in homes, cars and buildings can be expected, according to a Metropolitan Police Department post.