Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

More Snake Stories

Posted May 8, 2009

The copperhead death count in my Cary cul-de-sac has climbed to three this week. Another one of the ornery critters was discovered while I was away at work. I hope that’s the end of the population in our little part of the town.

Many years ago when I was courting my wife-to-be Cindy an interesting snake story unfolded in her house off Trinity Road in Raleigh. Cindy’s brother, Matt, took a snake into his room and put it into an old aquarium. He put a magazine on top of the aquarium but that was not adequate security. The snake escaped and Cindy’s mom, Marjorie, went into “hysterics” as she described it. Later, Cindy’s sister, Missy, was asleep on a sofa in the living room when the snake crawled up the wall. Missy’s dad was there at the time. Grover taught zoology at NC State. With Missy and her mom both screaming “Kill it! Kill it,” Grover calmly put a broom against the wall. The snake wound itself around the broom and Grover carried it out into the woods. Then came the lecture from the college professor: “There’s no need to kill the creature. It’s just a harmless black snake.”

Earlier this week, I promised a copy of my Blue Ridge Reunion book to the author of the best snake story. We will declare a winner next week. If you would like to add a story to the blog please do.

Several people have emailed me tales of snake encounters. I thought I would share those with you. The first one comes from Alan Rich who describes himself as a “real life rocket scientist:

“Apparently in NC we have two different kinds of large, beautiful black snakes: the Black Racer and the Black Rat. One of them is docile and shortly after you grab them and pick them up, they calm down and enjoy your body heat. The other is a foul-tempered evil serpent that loves to bite. I can't tell the two apart. This is the basis for my story:

Leaving my house to pick up a teenage girl babysitter one night, I saw a black snake on the road in front of my house. Big one. Five footer. I didn't want him to get run over by a car, so I stopped, got out, went over to him, and seeing that he didn't seem aggressive, I picked him up and took him to my wooded back yard. A while later, returning with aforementioned teenage girl babysitter in my passenger seat, I saw a black snake in the road again in front of my house. I stopped the car, looked at the girl, and said "Excuse me for a sec...

I know that snake." I got out of the car, incorrectly thinking this was the same snake, and without any sort of caution whatsoever bent

down to pick it up, saying to it out loud in baby-talk "Silly snake.

I thought I told you not to play in the road." Well it was a different snake. The OTHER, not-so-friendly version. It struck at me repeatedly, bringing blood from my arms. I could hear the babysitter screaming in my car as she watched in horror.

I ran back to the car exclaiming to the terrified girl something to the effect of "That's not my friend snake...I don't know who that snake is... it tried to kill me. My friend snake must still be in the back yard."

My wife and I didn't get to go out that night. We had to find another sitter.”


Gerald Hodges sent me the following story about snakes:

“I'll preface my story by saying I was born and raised in Boone, where black snakes are abundant and big! As a young boy I had a mutt dog that used to collect black snakes. He wouldn't kill them, but would instead would drag them in by the tail and show-off his catch to the family. My dad was not amused, as he was very afraid of snakes. In fact he was so afraid he would change the channel rather than watch a TV program that included snakes. (The unconfirmed family story was that he stumbled into a nest of baby black snakes as a child and was traumatized for life by the experience.)

A couple of years ago my dad came down from Boone visiting us at our home in Roxboro. It was in the fall, and because we could not get the Appalachian football game on the TV or radio, my dad was listening to the game in my office on the computer. My office is an add-on room at our house, and on this pleasant fall Saturday evening we had had the doors and windows open. He sat at my desk for two hours listening to the game, and then retired to bed.

A few minutes later I went to my desk to do some final preparation for the next day (I Pastor a church here and needed to do do some computer work.) After a short time I finished, and before leaving the office I reached around by desktop monitor to get a book. It was then I noticed that some practical joker had wrapped a large plastic snake around my computer CPU. Imagine my surprise when I reached for it and quickly came to the realization the snake was not plastic, but very real, very alive, and very comfortable there on my warm cozy desk. We had closed the doors and windows earlier in the day, so I have no idea how long the snake had been there, but I know it was there while my dad sat at that desk and listened to the game. I also know that if dad had discovered the snake it would NOT have been a good! Seriously, I suspect he would have had a heart attack!

My wife and I don't kill blacksnakes, as they make good neighbors for gardeners like us, so instead I called my wife to the office to show her our house guest. We agreed to a plan of action to show our snake friend to the door. I was going to pick it up and take it to the woods. With a gloved hand I reached for our four foot long black friend, and he proceeded to slide off the back of the desk and headed straight for the door to our kitchen! Fortunately my wife was quick closing the door, and our friend took the alternate route out the back door.

I always look now before I reach around for things on my desk. To this day I still have not told my dad of the episode, as I'm sure he would not visit us again. To him EVERY snake is deadly, and we are borderline crazy for not killing any and all that we see. We have a black snake in our backyard we have named Sam. He made his first appearance of the year this morning as my wife was working in the yard. As long as he stays outside we are glad to have him as a neighbor.”



Here’s another snake story from a good friend, Randy Cotton:

“I’ve lived in Dutchman Downs for 24 years and Copperheads are as common as water. I see at least three in my yard each season. So many that I keep a hoe outside beside my garage all season long. I’ve come close to stepping on them numerous times even though I am extremely careful. They seem to love our hardwood forests. And, I do everything I can to keep the area clean, but to no avail. I always take a flashlight with me to go out for the morning paper and to take out the dog after dark. I see them everywhere even in bright daylight. I see them driving in the neighborhood and go out of my way to stop them. But, I don’t recall ever seeing one on the streets in Lochmere. Over the years, some of our transplant neighbors have laughed me off when I tell them how common they are in this area. It really concerns me to see small children playing outside after dark.”



And finally, one more snake tale from Carolina Conversations reader Leland Strother who works as a land surveyor:

“I was the crew chief of a three man survey crew. We had worked our way deep into the woods and the work day was rapidly coming to an end. I sent one of the crew members, Mike, back to get our truck and drive around to the point we were to exit the woods to prevent us from back tracking with our equipment. I assumed this would take Mike about 30 minutes to walk back to the truck, drive around and navigate his way back to us. I was expecting to meet Mike as we continued surveying towards our intended property corner. Near the expected time of his return I heard someone coming behind us, the same direction that Mike had departed. Looking down the property line we had cut open, I saw Mike approaching us - soaking wet from waste down. Knowing we had easily jumped across a couple 4' streams during the survey I found it strange Mike was soaking wet and proceeded to inquire about his condition. Mike responded (writers note: you must read this slowly in a southern Forrest Gump style dialect also note the one long continuous sentence) " I got down to the creek and started to jump across the creek, I saw a water moccosin on the other side of the creek so I moved down the creek - got me a running start and jumped - when I got halfway across the creek I saw another moccosin on the other side of the creek where I was going to land - so I just stopped". To this day I vision Mike stopping mid-air like a cartoon character and dropping straight down into the creek then scrambling to get out. The snake was probably no more that 2 feet from him as he landed.”



Thanks for the memories!  By the way, I have learned that when I dream about snakes I am probably going to have a pretty bad day. At least I can get ready for it. What about you?


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  • nighthawkcp May 11, 2009

    I have a snake story that happened 2 weeks ago. My wife was getting ready for work and heard a metal TV tray fall over next to our bed. She looked under the bed and thought she saw a flash of movement. She called her stepfather who looked around the room and saw a black snake behind our dresser. The animal control guy was on vacation, so when she called the town they sent a police officer instead. My grandfather came over with a board and hedgeclippers. After moving some furniture around one of them was able to grab the snakes tail and dragged him from behind the dresser. He was flailing around, so they held him down with the board and the police officer used the hedge clippers to cut his head off. After they got him out they realized he was over 5' long! Even more amazing to me is that my wife cleaned up the mess, tossed him in the trash, got on to work and fell asleep that night with no complaints at all. After going through that, she is definitely a keeper in my book!

  • NCpetalpusher May 11, 2009

    My husband worked as the Head Mechanic at a country club in Raleigh. It was not uncommon to find snakes on the golf course. On this particular day, one of the guys found a copperhead and killed it. He took the snake to show everybody. They thought it would be funny to play a trick on my husband. They found some fishing line, tied it around the head of this poor dead snake and ran the fishing line across the shop floor. You have to understand that when my husband is working, he is Mr. Serious and always in high gear. They called him to back of the shop and as he was headed back there..his feet hit the fishing line. The faster he walked the faster the snake "chased" him. He couldn't get away from it, it was at his heels. He was looking for something he jump on or some way to get away from this snake that is chasing him. The guys were on rolling on the floor laughing. My husband later told me that if he were ever going to have a heart attack, it would have been right then.

  • Mom2two May 8, 2009

    About 15 years ago I order from CP&L the devices that would attach to the water heater and heat pump to save money ("Easy-$64," I think it was called. During the same time period we were having a problem with mice, and an acquaintance who owned a pet store gave us 4 black rat snakes to put under the house. One day, a CP&L worker came to the door, white as a ghost, saying that he would have to come back in the winter, because there was a snake skin "this long" (stretching his arms out as far as they would go.) I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had PUT the snakes under there! He never did come back and when CP&L eliminated that program, they couldn't understand why there wasn't a device to remove!

  • bigsky59 May 8, 2009

    We had a baby pool on our deck that became loaded with eggs and later tadpoles. I changed the water and took care of them. They became various types of frogs and toads and hopped out.
    The next year we had wonderful live frogs decorating our house and furniture.
    The following year we had baby copperheads all over the place. The one in the garage bit my cat in the face. I coaxed the snake into the street with a broom and a hockey stick and asked the next car to run over it. The cats face went down in a couple of days.
    That was the last time I left the pool alone to fill up.

  • snowcat92 May 8, 2009

    Snakes terrify me, even the non-poisonous types. About 15 years ago, my husband and I took our two boys to the NC Zoo in Asheboro on Easter Sunday. I didn't know any better because it was my first visit to the zoo, and with it being Easter and all I decided to wear a dress and a pair of high heeled shoes. We were walking through the zoo when we noticed a group of people looking up at a tree. A snake was slithering up the trunk toward a nest with baby birds. I kept my distance while my husband and boys went to investigate. All of a sudden the mother bird swooped down at the snake to protect her young. The snake threw itself off the tree and headed straight for me. My husband still laughs about my empty shoes sitting in the middle of the trail.

  • mrschizzy May 8, 2009

    When I was about 12 years old living in Northern Virginia, my dad and I would ride our bikes on some paved wooded trails. The landscape was a little hilly and windy in some spots. So one day my dad and I are riding our bikes and he is ahead of me a little ways (the paths weren't wide enough for two people to ride side-by-side very easily). So I am behind my dad and I ride up a decent-sized hill and then down the other side. At the bottom of the hill, the path curved fairly sharply to the right and I was going a decent speed just coming off of the hill. I turned the right and just on the other side of that curve, was a fairly long black snake that just came right out of the woods into my path to cross the pathway. I freaked out and screamed and braked really hard and ran the bike off into a tree and I fell off. My dad rushed back to see what had happened and I told him of the story...he just glad I could ammuse him! I was freaked out!!

  • mcmags May 8, 2009

    Growing up "down east" in NC, I had many run-ins with snakes.
    I'm sure this is why I am not keen on these creatures!
    Perhaps it was the time as a 10 year old I stepped on one in a corn field. I was barefoot and stepped right on that big, black snake! My country friend thought I was a hoot because I was so scared!
    Another time, as a teenager, I was helping Dad mow the grass. There I was, minding my own business, when I ran over a green snake! I will say only that I saw pieces of the snake shoot out from that mower. I did not help Dad for a year or two after that.
    More seriously, there were several occasions when, as children, we would hide in the pinestraw beds next to our house. Copperheads are neatly camouflaged in such areas. I remember one friend's father who walked calmly over to our crouched forms and said, "Don't move". He proceeded to take a shovel to that Copperhead right next to us.
    Finally, yes, Bill, I do feel forewarned when I dream of snakes!

  • lynneslaughter May 8, 2009

    When I was in the 10th grade at J.F.Webb High in Oxford, N.C. in 1974, I had advanced biology under Harvey Howard. The class was divided into groups of 4 students and each group had a plot of land roped off to explore. Everything in your plot had to be tagged and identified. My group found a snake in our section and one of the guys beat it with a stick. We took our "dead" snake back to the classroom so that we could use the textbooks to identify it for our project grade. About 10 minutes into class the snake resurrected and jumped from the stick he was on to the floor. Kids were jumping up on desks and screaming. Even Mr. Howard was twitching around trying to see where the snake went. Teachers from other rooms came to see what was happening. It was pandemonium in the science department. A few pieces of glassware were broken before the snake was recaptured and sentenced to be taken outdoors. We got credit and varmit identification was not required for future classes.

  • sillyauntdi May 8, 2009

    I was test driving a car off the main roads. It was THE car...right price, right model, right everything and we were returning to the shop to make the deal. I saw a snake in the road ahead but not in time to miss it. However, that snake was NOT in the rearview mirror as I crossed over it. I told the sales person sitting beside me there was no way I could buy the car now. He looked at me with a confused expression. I told him I would always believe that snake had jumped into the bottom of the car and would eventually make its way inside. I took the car back to the dealer and left the perfect car behind. Stupid snake.

  • curiousgeorgia May 8, 2009

    When we first came to North Carolina we were moving into a townhouse community down by Kiwanis park. The painters were still finishing up as we looked around. One of them saw a bright green snake on the little porch and thinking to scare me he picked it up and came towards me. The snake was not very long, but it wrapped itself around his arm in a suitably dramatic manner and was whipping its tail a bit. I am afraid I spoiled his fun, though. I squealed, yes, but not in fear, I thought it was so pretty and I reached out for it. A little disappointed he handed the snake to me. I held it gently and it got still. I admired it for a few minutes then took it outside again over by some bushes. It lay very rigid for a few more minutes while I moved back, then it disappeared in seconds. The painter seemed okay with that. (As a side note, I have seen more snakes in North Carolina in the 15 years I have lived here than I saw in 30 years in various parts of Africa and Asia!)




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Bill Leslie