Snake (charmer)

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 This caused further coiling, with the head withdrawn under the body, nose peeking out.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.

5 thoughts on “Snake (charmer)

  1. smith

    I am seeing snakes now in every month of the year. The Dec-Feb ones are very slow moving and are usually on warm roads. 40 years ago you could bet on NOT seeing any in those months. Have not seen cold season poisonous snakes however.

  2. Marie Wilson

    “but this is Sewanee, so peculiarity of behavior is expected if not always welcomed.” – I LOVE this quote. And I have to admit, even with my fear of snakes, this one is quite beautiful :-)


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