I came across this large (4.5 foot long) snake as I was biking up Roark’s Cove Road near Sewanee (apologies for the haze in the photos — these are phone-camera shots). The snake is a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus) and it showed no desire to move off the toasty road surface. I did not want it to get squashed by the next passing car, so I unclipped from my bike and poked the snake with a stick. It responded by curling into a defensive posture with its head jabbing at the air in my direction (all bluff — these rat snakes are non-venomous and present no danger to humans). It was now even less inclined to slither off the road. At this point a car came up the steep road. No doubt the driver wondered what a sketchy dude in tight shorts and odd shoes was doing waving a stick around in the middle of the road, but this is Sewanee, so peculiarity of behavior is expected if not always welcomed. I used the universal hand signal for “there is a gorgeous snake curled in the road; I am presently attempting to assist the animal; please don’t squash it.” I resorted to scooping the snake onto the stick and shuffling it to the verge. This caused further coiling, with the head withdrawn under the body, nose peeking out. Yes, I was snake-charmed.
Hopefully the snake had the sense to stay off the road after I left. I’ll find out on my next ride. This road is heavily wooded and therefore great for viewing wildlife as I pedal Sisyphus-like up the mountain, but it is regrettably also good for finding road-killed beasts of all kinds.