As I sat reading in my comfy chair in the living room yesterday afternoon I heard a noise in the ceiling above me. It wasn't the usual patter of squirrel feet: it was a slow, constant sliding sound. At once I knew it must be a snake. The upstairs neighbor Rohana had mentioned seeing two snakes entwined on top of the roof the day before, making love for three hours. Apparently this is the romantic season for them.
There is a small set of windows at the top of some stairs where I could look across the rooftop, and I saw nothing there. Perhaps the snake was in the air space – called "plenum" – between the ceiling and the roof? I shone a light through a crack in the wall paneling and saw large, yellow scales moving slowly about two meters away.
In cases of excitement the whole neighborhood motivates. Shiva, next door raking debris out of the roadway, came over with his gardener, a step ladder, and a long stick. We soaked a rag in some kerosene to shove into the plenum. Just then Rohana, peering out his own window, shouted in Singhala, and here came another (smaller) snake across the rooftop toward our faces! Karen the Bold managed to snap a couple photos of this frisky suitor as his tongue wiggled at Shiva's finger tapping the glass.
The rest of the day the house reeked a bit of kerosene and we had to shut the doors in case the wandering snakes happened to come inside. We even shifted to the guest bedroom, which has a concrete ceiling, unlike our own bedroom ceiling with its plenum and ceiling tiles that could give way under the weight of a couple enamored reptiles.