A timber rattlesnake chubby enough to qualify as a speed bump was filmed blocking a hiking trail in Tennessee, and viewers on social media can’t decide whether to be horrified or dubious.
Photographer Sarah Buckner of Chattanooga says she spotted the venomous snake while hiking Saturday, Aug. 13, from the Mullens Cove trailhead to Snooper’s Rock. It quickly brought things to a halt, she says.
“I almost stepped on it,” Buckner wrote on social media. “Its front half was out on the trail so I saw it and quickly backed up.”
The snake needed a full 30 seconds to cross from one side of the trail to the other, the video shows. During that time, viewers get a full view of a reptile that is intimidatingly thick — a distinguishing characteristic of timber rattlesnakes.
“There was another guy and his dog coming up behind us, too. We all just stood there and patiently waited for him to go on his way,” Buckner said told McClatchy News.
“I think people know there are snakes in our woods but never expect to see one quite so big in real time. … It does kind of look like he’d just eaten! He had a little tummy bulge.”
The video has been shared on social media by multiple TV stations, which resulted in it being shared by various snake identification and education groups on Facebook.
Buckner says she’s “getting a real kick out of” the resulting reactions, including some who insist it’s a fake snake. Others have no doubt it’s real, but say the video doesn’t allow for a reliable size estimate — unless someone took a ruler and measured the width of the trail.
“Is this real? I have never seen a rattlesnake this large,” one viewer said on Facebook. “I wonder what it’s been eating.”
“That snake has to be as old as dinosaurs to be that long,” another person posted.
“That thing looks like it is digesting a human,” a commenter wrote.
Buckner estimates the snake was 5 to 6 feet long. Average for timber rattlesnakes in Tennessee is between 3 and 5 feet, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. They have been known to live up to 22 years.
“Like other members of the pit viper family, the timber rattlesnake has a large, heavy-bodied appearance,” according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.
“Adults typically reach lengths of 2.5-5 feet (.76-1.5 meters), but there are reports of timber rattlesnakes growing up to 7 feet (2 meters) long.”
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