The day after a 6-foot boa constrictor slithered through a hol in her kitchen floor putting a damper on Thanksgiving, Lucille Fitzgerald became a South Baltimore celebrity.
A stranger called yesterday from Delaware to give her advice on how to lure the snake from its hiding place underneath the stove. A snake breeder from Glen Arm called to offer a funnel-shaped reptile trap. Curiosity seekers stopped by her front door in the 700 block of E. Fort Ave.
But that's nothing compared to what Mrs. Fitzgerald expects when she takes the bus to play bingo this week.
"I can see I'm going to be ribbed on the bus about the snake," she predicted.
Amid all the activity in the small row house yesterday, the only thing missing was the serpent.
The boa, a non-venomous snake that squeezes its prey to death, appeared on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. while Mrs. Fitzgerald's daughter Barbara was cooking Thanksgiving dinner. The snake was seen in a corner of the basement kitchen after it burrowed through the rotten wooden subfloor and headed toward a dish of dog food.
When Barbara Fitzgerald saw the boa, she ran out of the room and called the police. Six officers and an animal control warden arrived. One officer struggled with the snake before the reptile jerked itself back, scaring the officer. He let go and the snake then slipped back into the hole.
The experience postponed the family's Thanksgiving dinner until after 6 p.m. and left the elder Mrs. Fitzgerald and her neighbors shaken and wary of each noise.
Joyce Agresott, another daughter of Mrs. Fitzgerald's, sat at the kitchen table yesterday with a hammer, poised to pulverize the boa if it reappeared.
"I'm baby sitting Mom today," Mrs. Agresott said. "This place is a snake-infested rat hole."
It was unclear where the snake came from or how long it had been underneath Mrs. Fitzgerald's kitchen floor, she said.
Mrs. Fitzgerald's son tried to locate a fish tank yesterday to fill it with mice, which boa constrictors like to eat, and place it near the hole hoping to trap the snake. The family has also poured ammonia down the hole in an attempt to kill the snake.
Peter Kahl, owner of Peter Kahl Reptiles, a reptile breeding company in Glen Arm, called Mrs. Fitzgerald and urged her to remain calm if she sees the boa again. Mr. Kahl said the boa most likely retreated beneath the stove where it is warm.
The owner of 150 boa constrictors and 50 pythons, Mr. Kahl also advised her not to let the family's small dog near the snake hole because the boa could attack the dog and squeeze it to death.
"If I see him, I'm running!" Mrs. Fitzgerald said. "The neighbors are petrified just like I am. We're afraid that it can show up anywhere."
Next-door neighbor Chilton Hoffman said he and his wife are on guard in case the boa decides to surface in their row house.