Friend or foe? Snakes aren't always what they seem

  • Follow Rob Pavey

Ever since Rachael Simmons snapped a photo of a fat snake sprawled on a log in the Savannah River, rumors have spread like kudzu that we have pythons or other unsavory monsters in our midst.

A Savannah River kayaker's snapshot of this hefty brown water snake stirred rumors of pythons and oversized cottonmouths. Water snakes are not venomous, but are prone to bite if they are provoked.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
A Savannah River kayaker's snapshot of this hefty brown water snake stirred rumors of pythons and oversized cottonmouths. Water snakes are not venomous, but are prone to bite if they are provoked.
Video: Augusta Outdoors
Loading the player...

Admittedly, the snake is a whopper – and those who didn’t believe it was a python were convinced, at the very least, we are harboring a world record cottonmouth.

We sent a copy of the photo, which took Facebook by storm, to Savannah River Ecology Lab professor emeritus Whit Gibbons, a nationally known snake expert who has spent decades chasing reptiles in the area.

His take: a very healthy brown water snake. Although non-venomous, they will bite if picked up, he added.

Such a large example of a snake that so closely resembles the reviled cottonmouth reminds me that plenty of snakes are killed needlessly and out of ignorance.

Last week, I noticed a kingsnake at the grassy edge of a parking lot at Blanchard Woods Park, no doubt squashed intentionally. Clarks Hill visitors are notorious for stoning watersnakes, swearing they have killed a “moccasin.”

Gibbons always advises that snakes are best left to themselves, and left alone. They can’t hurt anyone if you don’t bother them, even if they’re as long and fat as a fire hose.

KITTY KITTY: Speaking of strange creatures in the wild, the cops down in Burke County got a call last week from a lady off Thompson Bridge Road who said she saw a big, brown animal walking inher backyard that was presumed to be a panther.

Police were unable to confirm the sighting, which was also reported to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.

It was no surprise that neither agency was able to find the animal. After all, we don’t have panthers in Georgia – do we?

REDBELLY ROUNDUP: In talking to Canal Authority director Dayton Sherrouse last week, we learned bids will be opened June 12 for the long awaited addition of a mile-long trail spur from the canal towpath to the Waters Edge subdivision downtown.

The project includes two new bridges over the tailraces behind King and Sibley mills – which might also open up some new places to fish, for those without a boat.

Although that segment of the river stays busy with pontoon boats and wakeboarders, the quiet channel behind the mills has produced some of the largest bluegill ever to come from the river.

GATOR TAGS: The S.C. Department of Natural Resources began accepting online applications for the 2012 public alligator season, which will include 1,200 permits issued to the lucky recipients drawn for tags.

Last year, hunters took 472 alligators during the season, with the average size being nine feet in length. Hunters took 473 alligators in the 2010 season.

Applications, details and fees are on the S.C. DNR Web site.

RAPTOR RECONSTRUCTION: Lots of lakebound visitors might remember the nest of ospreys on the Price-Legg (Little River) bridge linking Columbia and Lincoln counties.

Although it vanished in a storm a couple years ago, one of our readers, Mike Cliatt, reports that a new nest is emerging about 100 yards from the metal power pole tower on the Columbia County end of the bridge.


Top headlines

Charges for sex offender

A man convicted of sex charges in Columbia County, who then went to prison for child molestation in south Georgia is back behind bars.
Search Augusta jobs