Metro

Milk snake slithers into Medford kitchen, bites 9-month-old boy

Courtesy Jenna Lees-Rolfe
The milk snake captured by Jenna Lees-Rolfe and her husband on Saturday after it bit their son James.

A Medford family received quite a scare Saturday morning when a large milk snake found its way into their kitchen and bit their 9-month-old son.

Jenna Lees-Rolfe was preparing breakfast in her home at 133 Fells Ave. and had placed her young son, James, on the kitchen floor by the refrigerator, where he could play with some pots and pans while she worked, she said in a phone interview Monday evening.

Lees-Rolfe said she looked away only for about a minute. When she turned back, a 5-foot snake had appeared from under the refrigerator. She watched in shock as it sunk its teeth into James’s shin.

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“I screamed,” she said. “I immediately grabbed James and brought him to a safe place in another room with my 3-year-old.”

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After calling for her husband, Lees-Rolfe checked James’s wound and was relieved to see no inflammation. Having grown up in Australia, she was prepared for the worst.

“Snakes there can be very vicious,” she said. “This was nothing like that.”

Courtesy Jenna Lees-Rolfe
Small puncture wounds caused by the snake bite.

Lees-Rolfe and her husband corralled the snake into a trash bag using a bucket and broom, and transferred it to a transparent container, she said. A snake expert later identified the creature as a female milk snake, a non-venomous species commonly found in Massachusetts.

Lees-Rolfe, who moved Medford from Melrose just four months ago, said she rarely sees wildlife in the area.

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“Some of my neighbors have been here for more than 15 years, and no one has ever seen a snake,” Lees-Rolfe said.

She was told the unwanted guest likely entered her garage looking for food, and perhaps climbed through the home’s pipes into the kitchen. Lees-Rolfe and her husband have since bought mouse traps and snake repellant, and have sealed off the space under the refrigerator.

Milk snakes are not known to be aggressive, though they will bite if handled, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s snake identification guide.

Lees-Rolfe suspects the snake attacked because it was frightened by the clanging made by her son as he played with pots and pans.

James was very calm throughout the ordeal, and only became upset after seeing his parents’ panic, his mother said.

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“Even after the bite, he was totally unfazed,” she said.

Back home in Australia, children are taught from a young age to be mindful of dangerous snakes, Lees-Rolfe said.

“It’s probably a good thing this happened to the Australians.”

Abigail Feldman can be reached at abigail.feldman@globe.com.