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Texas mom sweet-talks a snake out of her daughter’s car engine: ‘Well, hello there’

“Spiders, reptiles, snakes, it doesn’t matter. I view all animals with respect and compassion.”
/ Source: TODAY

A brave mom wrestled a snake from the engine of her daughter's car, all in a day's work.

Nicole Graham and her husband, Mike, are no strangers to serpents as co-owners of The Garden Hen, a Texas-based company that teaches people how to become urban chicken farmers. Part of their job involves cleaning chicken coops, a magnet for snakes who prey on eggs.

With 14 full-time clients and a health condition — in January, Graham was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor that's caused vision problems — her daughter Haylie, 18, has been driving her to and from jobs.

Understandably, a reptile was no big deal.

"I am not scared of snakes," Graham, a mother of three, tells, adding, "Spiders, reptiles, snakes, it doesn't matter. I view all animals with respect and compassion."

On April 4, Graham was cleaning two coops in Burton, when a snake popped its head out from a pile of hay.

"I was like, 'Well, hello there,'" she says.

She immediately recognized it as a rat snake, a nonvenomous reptile commonly found in Texas that often preys on chicken eggs.

Graham estimated the snake in question was more than 4 feet long.

Fortunately, Graham was wearing gloves and carrying a long stick, which she used to move the hay aside, then grabbed the tail.

"Most times, you don't want to go toward the head because if they get alarmed or scared, they have a tendency to strike," she says. "The good thing about rat snakes is that they're typically not aggressive."

Graham used the stick to support the snake's body and carry it outside where she planned to release it around the forest line.

When Graham was about 10 feet from Haylie's Mini Cooper, the snake broke free, dropped to the ground and quickly slithered into the wheel well.

"It happened so fast," she recalls. Predicting the snake would coil itself in the warm engine, she popped the hood of her daughter's car as Haylie filmed from outside.

"Come here," Graham told the snake in the video, while gently pulling it from the engine. "Baby, I'm not trying to hurt you."

"Oh my God, oh my God," the teen exclaims.

"She is not used to snakes," Graham tells of her oldest daughter. "She is a girlie girl and free spirit, however, there are certain animals she won't go anywhere near."

Graham released the creature near the forest and continued with her day.

The feat was an example of the backyard self-sufficiency (gardening, raising chickens, life-cycle education) that Graham instills in her clients and her daughters alike.

"My youngest girls don't know anything different," she says. "We have chickens in our backyard and a garden. There's a lot to be learned from it."

Now she can add snake wrangling to the lesson plan.