A Day in the Life at UNMC

UNMC Security: Joel and the snake

UNMC has had a menagerie.

“We’ve had a variety of animals on campus,” said UNMC security officer John Ingraham. “We’ve had turkeys. Deer. We’ve of course had raccoons.”

Of course.

“Skunks. Possum. We’ve had ducks.”

But none of that compares to the time Joel Schuldt stared down the snake.

UNMC campus security corporal Joel Schuldt coolly took charge in a tense standoff — with a snake.

It was kind of an autumn day. A little cool, but not cold. It was nice, actually.

Security got a call. There was a snake crawling out from under a car.

“OK, a snake,” Ingraham said. “I’m thinking of a garter snake. Ooh.

“People get freaked out about snakes.”

***

So they went down there, looked at the car. Nothing there.

“So, I don’t know,” Ingraham said.

Twenty minutes later, another call.

Again, no snake.

***

“All of a sudden we see this head come down from the wheel well,” Ingraham said.

The head looked around. “And it starts … this thing, it keeps coming and coming.”

And coming. It had to have been six feet long.

Maybe they just like college campuses. Meet Black Rat snake, or Scotophis obsoletus. (UNL Herpetology photo by Dennis Ferraro)

Why in the world was there a 6-foot snake in the parking lot at UNMC?

They theory was, it hitched a ride on a car from Plattsmouth, from down in the country.

“They think it climbed up on the A-frame of the car. And as the engine cooled it was looking for a place to warm up, and came out then,” Ingraham said.

***

It was a black rat snake. A constrictor. Its name tells you what it eats. They are found all over, but locally, mostly in Nebraska’s southeastern corner.

In Iowa, it’s a protected species.

“Joel (Schuldt), the other supervisor, he stepped on it to keep it,” Ingraham said.

Then: “We call the Humane Society.”

***

Schuldt held the snake there. The snake countered by wrapping itself around Joel’s leg.

“And we wait and wait and wait,” Ingraham said.

***

At last, the Humane Society arrived. The guy came over: What have you got there?

A big snake, they said.

“Ooh!” the Humane Society guy shrieked. “I hate snakes!”

Are you kidding me?

***

The security guys told Humane Society guy he wasn’t leaving without it.

He got a special snake tool. They unwrapped the snake from Joel’s leg. They put it in a bag, and the guy took it away. Which was good.

“Joel is not necessarily a big fan of snakes either,” Ingraham said.

Well, you know. Definitely not anymore.

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