Animals In Appalachia Appalachia

Blacksnakes 1893

snake sightings in western nc

“Now, there’s blacksnakes around here. One morning I went into the kitchen and opened a door to come into the room there. And when I opened that door, there was a big old blacksnake a-layin’ right on top of the door and it fell down on top of my head! I had an old mop a-settin’ there, and there was little back porch there, and I opened the door and got the mop and just mopped him right out into the yard! He crawled off. I didn’t kill him. One time we had a springhouse out there. Shady. Had two spring-run troughs in there. And we’d milk the cows and skim the milk and make butter and sell it. And so one day my mother told me to do something here at the house, and she’d go churn. She always sat on the nail keg. So when she got done churnin’, she moved the keg and there was a big blacksnake under it. She’d been settin’ on that snake all the time. I heard her hollerin’ for me to come and bring the hoe. Well, I went down there, but we never got the snake.”

Hazel Campbell, 1893 Ashe County – Snowbird Gravy and Dishpan Pie by Patsy Moore Ginns

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I’ve heard more snake stories this summer than I ever have. Having a boss who is deathly afraid of them might have something to do with it, but still lots of snake stories around Cherokee County NC this year. Including two incidents of blacksnakes getting in buildings at work.

The most recent blacksnake incident at work happened when a maintenance man found a six-foot long snake in a bathroom. How did he find it? When he entered the room to check the trash it struck at him! Much like Ms. Campbell above he ushered the snake out the door and down into the drainage ditch where the snake politely took off straight back to the building and tried to squeeze under the front door! I hate to think about what sort of tasty snack the snake was after inside the building.

Tipper

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    DonInKansas
    July 16, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    When Grandma still lived on the farm, she had a huge king snake that lived in the barn. We were all threatened with a whipping to remember if she ever caught us messing with it. About 25-30 years ago, my brother built a house where the old barn used to be. They had to do some blasting to dig a hole for their basement. In a small cave that was uncovered was a huge old copperhead. My brother said it was nearly as thick as a man’s forearm. This was in the Ozark. They still have lots of snakes there.

  • Reply
    faye bancroft
    August 6, 2018 at 8:28 am

    I live in central lower michigan,and we have one poisonous snake,the massasauga rattlesnake. its also known as a puff-adder. it doesnt have a strong poison,but can make you sick,if bitten.
    my favorite story,though,is about a snake found on our rural dirt road. she was coiled in a sunny patch,on the berm,and was such a beautiful copper color. I later found it to be a hog-nosed snake,which is harmless. my husband wouldnt get out if the car, but i walked up to get a look at her. beautiful,and not aggressive,at all.

  • Reply
    Stephen Suddarth
    July 1, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Never have been scared of snakes, when I was a kid ,I was runnin’ down a path in the woods [in N. Va.] and stepped right into a mess of sqiggly things in a marshy area. I looked back as I kept runnin’ and saw a bunch of baby snakes scattering. I got to the house and reported it to Daddy who looked down at my feet and asked what did they look like ? I described them and he told me “From now on you’re you’re gonna be wearin’ shoes in those woods – is that clear ? Those were copperheads and the babies are more poisonous than the big ones. The same goes for your little brother, you got real lucky”

  • Reply
    TimMc
    June 28, 2017 at 5:43 am

    We’ve seen more this year than usual, had a small chicken snake crawling up the wall in my shop, then I went to get into the freezer in the garage one day and smelled an awful smell and looked and I had caught him on a glue board next to the freezer, or it looked like the same size that was in my shop. My Brother who lives across the woods from us killed a cooperhead out near his garden.

  • Reply
    Deb Kroll
    June 27, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    We saw four large snakes in one day about 3 weeks ago. I got trapped in the garage (with the garage door closed) with a 5-foot rat snake on the steps that lead back into the house from the garage. I was taking out some trash to put in the garbage can in the garage and turned around, and there was the snake on the steps I had just walked down. That same day our son-in-law had to remove a 5-foot snake from his parents’ bathroom. Word is that there are a lot of snakes this year because we had such a mild winter.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Joint Snake – There is a critter called the ‘eastern slender glass lizard’. It is legless so looks like a snake. The tail is about one-third of its body length. In common with other lizards, if pinned the tail will come off in one or more pieces. But it can regrow a tail, just not overnight. I have only ever seen one of these lizards. I donated it to Dr. Roger Barbour of the University of Kentucky.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    June 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Dear Tipper, I have to comment when the topic is snakes! I have so many snake stories floating around in my head it doesn’t take much to bring one to mind. My grandmother used to tell me about being chased by black racers and also by a hoop snake. She was deadly serious, though I know they are not supposed to exist. Maybe they don’t, but you would never convince her. I think this may be a year when snakes are numerous as I have already seen several. I like to sit on my back porch and look toward the river and the garden and the other day after I got up, I saw one under my chair. It was just a black snake but it scared me. Two weeks ago my son was repairing a rock wall behind his house and found seven different kinds of snakes over the course of the day. None were poisonous so he didn’t kill any of them. One was very pretty, we looked it up and it was a red milk snake. I wondered why it was called that, do you know? Thanks for all the work you do on this wonderful website.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    June 27, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    It seems there was always a snake somewhere when I was growing up. That is to be expected, I suppose, since we lived right smack dab in their habitat. I never got used to it, and they all scared me outta my wits. The scream seemed to come before I was actually mentally aware it was a snake. It was so much a part of life that I do not ever recall a warning of, “watch out for snakes.” I will never know how they stayed out of the house because we were always leaving doors open.
    My poor parents! I recall as a child waking up and my cover had become rolled up. I started screaming about a snake being in my bed. Dad was awakened from a sound sleep, and he came rushing in turning on lights and actually sorting through the covers with flashlight in hand. The part about this that seems odd as I look back is he never questioned that it was possible, he did not scold, and everybody went back to sleep and slept soundly the rest of the night.
    Only after I was older did I study anything about snake identification I know Copperheads by their head and the candy kisses design on their body. We had something the locals called a “house snake.” I now know it was probably a rat snake.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 27, 2017 at 11:49 am

    My mother in law was deathly afraid of snakes. Somebody told her that moth balls would keep snakes out of the house so she got some and put them out all through the house. I think she much have used about 90 lbs of the things. I, on the other hand, have no fear of snakes (a healthy respect for the poisonous ones though) but the smell of moth balls affects my breathing. Needless to say, I didn’t visit very often, to go in the house anyway.
    My -in laws lived in walking distance so my wife and daughter spent about as much time there as they did at home. When they’d come home, they smelled like moth balls until they aired out. Sometimes they would bring me food. I couldn’t eat it because it smelled like moth balls. Overnight in the refrigerator sometimes helped but other times I had to find a way not to eat it.
    There are other things that cause me to react like that. Some kinds of hair spray, most room deodorizers, and automobiles that are burning oil, to name a few, cause me to choke up. I think I would just as rather be smothered to death by a giant boa constrictor than by snake repellents.

  • Reply
    Ken
    June 27, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Tipper,
    I’ve seen snakes all my life and some in the house, but they’re no longer with us. There use to be a lot of snakes when I was little and one of us or the dogs got rid of those we encountered.
    One time I was at my uncle’s house, Tommy Higdon, and we went outside for him to show me his work building. He reached up on a shelf looking for something and come up with a big blacksnake. He was startled at first but gathered him up and put him outside. After he put out the blacksnake he yelled, “and don’t you eat any more of Sam’s (his coon dog) food either or he’ll get you.” I just Love the times we have here in the Mountains. …Ken

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    June 27, 2017 at 11:42 am

    We heard so many stories as kids of black racers chasing people and about joint snakes that would go into pieces if struck! When Mama was in her later years, she had a lizard dart in through her front door. She spent the rest of the day watching for him to leave which he eventually did. She called all lizards scorpions!

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    June 27, 2017 at 9:51 am

    My only outdoor spigot is under the fake rock well pump cover. Last week I needed a hose outside, so I lifted the cover to attach it. I knew that a Black snake lived under there, so I was careful not to disturb him too much. Boy was I surprised when there were three or four Black snakes intertwined and sleeping on the top of the insulation. They were as surprised as I was, and I coaxed them to crawl down into the insulation so I could connect the hose. I returned the rock cover a few hours later when I was finished. I know they were glad to have the darkness back again. I see them occasionally crawling across the driveway, or under the deck. They don’t seem afraid of me. When I see one crossing a road, I always stop the car, pick him up, and release him in the direction of his final destination. Other drivers might just run him over. It’s the least I can do….. Vann

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 27, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Seems to be a snaky year. Local paper here in Gainesville, GA had a snake story about the number of bites reported.
    We had a black snake that lived in and around the barn when I was a boy. We would see it from time to time. It was over six feet long. It used to spend the winter intertwined with the springs in the seat of an old truck. We think it got hauled off with the truck when Dad sold it.

  • Reply
    quinn
    June 27, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I appreciate snakes – it’s the initial “startle” I don’t enjoy, but then I have that same little reflexive jump when I see a mouse in a feed bucket or a little hoppytoad in the garden, and they are about as dangerous as our snakes! Well, even a garter snake will strike at a person if it feels threatened, but I live in what I believe is one of the few places in the country where none of the snakes I’m likely to see are venomous. There is a native rattler in MA, but they are extremely rare now and protected. I doubt I’ll ever see one in the wild.

    • Reply
      faye bancroft
      August 6, 2018 at 8:17 am

      northern snakes

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 27, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Tipper,
    Several years ago my Mom who was probably mid eighties and still loved to prowl around every morning in her yard among her weeds and flowers every morning. She told us that as she was walking down thru the back yard she saw that someone had tossed an old bicycle inner tube. Landing right over her little fence protecting her flower bead, barely missing her prized bunch of iris that just started to bloom. Well she meandered on toward it, still looking as she walked. Not thinking she reached to pick it up, just touching the thick ring portion, when the BLACK SNAKE decided it didn’t want to be picked up. Slithering off faster than one of those BLACK RACERS, that Dad told us about when he was a kid. Mother said it was the biggest, thickest and longest BLACK SNAKE she had ever seen. She said she screamed so loud, that she was sure I heard her in the next county over…Ha
    Well, I’m guessing that snake was so slow moving at first, just holding it’s ground. Probably full of eggs and on it’s way to Mother’s cinder block compost bed near by. Having to stop and coil up when it felt Mom’s vibration walking toward it. She had a hoe, but she said she never even gave it a thought to kill it. We were taught never to kill BLACK SNAKES.
    We don’t kill them here on our place either…and have only seen one Copperhead in many years.
    Thanks Tipper enjoyed this post,
    PS…We have had a frog invasion, we have never seen so many of the little fellers hopping all over the yard and gardens…they are about an inch and half long…So I’m sure there are snakes out here enjoying baby frog legs on occasion this week…ewwww!

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    June 27, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I’ve never cared much for snakes. Growing up, we were always under siege by copper heads. I still get the shivers thinking about it.
    My Dad appreciated the black snakes, though. He said they kept the mice out of the corn crib.
    But, all the same, I’d rather just avoid the whole slithering lot of them.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

    It doesn’t matter what color the snake is, he is not my friend! A few years back, I came home from work to find my air conditioning out. I propped the back door open, called the heat and air guy and watched a snake slither right through my kitchen and into a coat closet in another room. My son in law spent hours shaking coats and looking through the other stuff in there. He finally found it and took it to Bernheim Forest to have it identified. They said it was a copperhead! I am so lucky I had my eyes on that door as he entered and wonder what might have happened if I hadn’t seen him come in.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 27, 2017 at 8:30 am

    We always appreciated a black snake in the garden to help keep away unwanted visitors. One time we were moving rocks we accidentally packed one in the same box. He stayed with us for years

  • Reply
    SuzyJ
    June 27, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Perhaps she was trying to get back to her clutch of eggs 🙂
    Now that is something to give you pause!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 27, 2017 at 8:01 am

    He will get your eggs but he is a good snake to have around! They don’t like copperheads, so he is my buddy! I had two black snake pets when I was a kid. Good for the barn, where there is a lot of mice.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    June 27, 2017 at 5:56 am

    One of my grandma’s kitchen chairs has a V-shaped notch. As a young mother and farm wife she found a snake coiled on the top slat of thel back of the chair. She used a hoe to kill the snake, the notch resulted. As kids we loved to hear that story and we loved to sit in that chair!
    As an aside, I have another of those chairs. It has a large W carved on the back of the top slat. My uncles were named Wilbur and Williard, each said the other did it. As an adult I begged Them to tell me who did if. Neither one ever told so we have an enduring family mystery.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 27, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Tip, I saw a little snake in my yard last time I mowed. He got gone before I got a good enough look at him to identify him as a black snake, but that what I thought he was. I was always taught not to kill black snakes cause they are our friends. Where black snakes are they keep away other poisonous snakes…that’s what my Mama used to say.

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