On Thursday night, Natalie Nelson went to bed like any other night. She finished reading with her daughter Mia, brushed her teeth and washed her face before kissing her husband James goodnight. It was 9pm.
At 10.30pm she heard some rustling. It was a warm and humid night in West Wodonga and the front screen door was open. Thinking it was her cat, Mr Beau Jangles, she didn’t dwell on the sound. A couple of minutes later, she roused herself, went to the ensuite bathroom and hopped back into bed. On her way there and back, the cat was right under her legs.
Still there was a persistent scurrying. And something not quite right about the noise.
Natalie reached over and turned on the side lamp and there illuminated in full light was a snake.
“I just jumped up and screamed my guts out and called out to my husband.”
The foot long brown snake was less than one metre away, rearing, its head up.
“The cat was right in front of it and the snake was lunging at it, I saw the cat first and then the snake's head came up.”
The snake raised its head to Natalie.
“The cat bolted and my husband started running down the hallway. In between screaming out to my husband, I was screaming to the cat saying ‘Beau - get out of the way!’”
Her husband James had fallen asleep watching TV in the back room. On his way there, he smashed his knee on the pantry cabinet door.
“I was screaming hysterically. I did not stop until he was at the door. My mouth got dry.”
Natalie’s phone was sitting on the bedside table, too close to the snake for her to grab it. With her husband’s knee bleeding and Natalie frozen on the bed with the snake starring, it was a comedy of errors trying to contact a snake catcher.
“I couldn't reach my phone and he was bleeding like crazy. So he's thrown me his phone, I'm trying to google snake catchers with his head [the snake] right there.”
For fifteen minutes, Natalie stood at the far corner of the bed while the snake watched her not daring to move. Eventually the snake slowly put its head down and slithered behind the bed-side table.
This was Natalie’s chance to exit the bedroom.
“We duct taped the bottom of the bedroom door and locked the snake in. We were watching the bottom of the door to make sure it didn’t come out.”
At 11.30pm snake catcher Tristan Hamilton arrived. It took twenty minutes to locate the snake which was surprisingly, still coiled behind the bed-side table.
“Tristan said because it's a baby they flatten their heads. We had a screen door on the front and we had that open and it went under the door and straight into the bedroom.”
“Thank God for the cat. We’re really quite thankful. My husband hates him but he actually saved our lives.
“I was in the bathroom two minutes before that and the cat Beau was protecting me from the snake.”
“Beau’s not the friendliest of cats. He doesn't like cuddles and just sleeps. But today, 12 hours later, he was stalking the bedroom still trying to find it.”
Understandably Natalie had a stiff drink after such a close call.
“We glued James’ knee together with some superglue and stayed up for a bit. I had a glass of red and sat by my husband on the couch. It was about 3am before I got to sleep.”
“A lot of people's worst fears is having a snake in the home. I keep thinking ‘What if?’”
“My son's on the floor crawling ... it could have come out. It's just horrendous to think.”
Natalie says it will haunt them in their dreams for a while. “I haven't been able to eat anything today, I just felt sick.”
“We actually had a red-belly black snake a couple of years ago on the lawn and we called a snake catcher but it went away, so we’re pretty wary.”
Amazingly, their two children Mia, four, and Jacob, 18 months, didn’t hear a thing and slept through the entire night.