In a quiet jungle valley in Lomalinda, our friend Mardty raised chickens in a little red barn, but she was troubled—she was bringing home fewer eggs and counting fewer chickens than usual.
Then one day she spotted a boa constrictor inside the barn—with a chicken just disappearing down its throat.
Boas grow up to thirteen feet long and can weigh a hundred pounds. Rather than poisoning their prey—sometimes as big as a deer—they coil around, squeeze them to death, and swallow them whole. Lomalindians took boas seriously.
But Mardty, determined to save her hen, dropped to her knees, seized that snake below the chicken bump, and held on. I’ll drag it up the hill to get help, she told herself.
Before long, though, the snake’s cold, scaly body had wrapped around her legs, winding ever higher, locking her in its grip.
She put up a good fight, but the boa toppled her to the ground.
Mardty knew it intended to wring the breath out of her.
And swallow her.
She let go of the chicken bump—she had more important things to do. “I need a weapon,” she told herself.
Scanning the room, she saw nothing but a feed barrel.
But it had a lid!
“I stretched up and was barely able to grab it. I held the boa with one hand and rolled the lid back and forth with the other, trying to cut its head off.”
Lying there in the chicken poop and its stench, Mardty must have looked like she was rolling a giant pizza cutter over the snake’s neck.
“But the rim was rounded and smooth,” she said, “and I had to give up.”
Knowing she was in a life-or-death situation, Marty yelled, hoping someone up the hill in the dorm would hear—the house parents, Rosie and Dan, or one of the kids—but no one came.
Sprawled on the ground, Mardty wondered if she was taking her last breaths.
The boa continued winding ever upward on her body.
But she was not a quitter—she kept hollering until she heard the sound of feet pounding down the jungle path.
Rosie burst through the door brandishing a machete.
Dan followed, wielding a shotgun—but Mardty saw a problem. “Don’t shoot! If you shoot the snake, you’ll shoot me, too!”
Once Dan lowered the gun, Mardty and Rosie pointed the machete at the boa’s neck and stabbed, sawing until they nearly cut off its head, leaving it almost dead.
Dan unwound the snake and dragged it to the chicken yard and finished it off with a shot.
“We carried that big long body up the hill to the dorm,” Mardty said.
“He measured more than eleven feet. After skinning him, we opened him up in the kitchen. The hen was intact but dead, and so many of her bones broken.
“And we did, by the way, start getting more eggs again. We're sure the egg thief was that boa.” (from Chapter 13, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir)
At times like that,
I’m tempted to question God’s wisdom
in creating creatures like boa constrictors.
And yet, He said:
“Let there be critters and creepy-crawlies,”
. . . or something close to that
Even boa constrictors.