HOOP SNAKES ARE REAL !!
Hoop Snakes are supposedly "mythical" creatures. But I saw something
in Jacksonville, FL, in 1997, that can only be described as a Hoop Snake.
The standard, "mythical" hoop snake image is of a snake with its tail in its
mouth, rolling like a hula hoop. What I saw was different but the category
it best fits is: "Hoop Snake!"
I reported the sighting to a newsgroup that existed at that time, SSS, and
to the National Audubon Society. I received a reasonable response from
the Society, and interest - and even expressions of shock! - from SSS.
This was in late 1997 to early 1998.
Since then I had not kept up with this matter, but have recently desired to
reignite it. After ten-plus years, I was sure there must be photos, possibly
videos of hoopsnakes by now! I saw one - haven't a fair number of other
people? To my surprise, there are still no photos and hoopsnakes are
officially still "myth."
My snake was probably three to six feet long, all BLACK and was rolling in a
3D form best described as resembling a giant bedspring, lying on its side.
It was crossing Atlantic Boulevard as I drove East one Sunday in late 1997,
heading from downtown to Jacksonville Beach. It was crossing from the median
strip of this moderately busy, four lane highway, from my left to my right.
The motion was apparently a vector of longitudinal (along a line equivalent
to the "axis" of the bedspring-form it was creating) and sideways (bedspring
rolling sideways, like a spring would naturally roll). Thus it was moving at
something on the order of a 45 degree angle, relative to its "longitudinal
axis." In other words, it was both moving head-to-tail across my forward
path, AND rolling on it's bedspring-form-side, AWAY from me.
My chassis skimmed over the top of it; another car was coming up on it behind
me, and I did not see what happened after that.
No, it did NOT have its tail in its mouth, nor was it moving like a hula
hoop as in "mythical" depictions. It WAS ROLLING, moving in a smooth,
beautiful, symmetric, THREE-DIMENSIONAL form. I at first thought
"sidewinder." I researched snakes immediately after the sighting and found
that sidewinders move in a mostly TWO-DIMENSIONAL, "S" form, and are light
colored. I also discovered the "myth" of "hoop snakes," that evening. I had
never heard of hoop snakes before that. I had to see one before I learned
they existed, even as supposed "myth!"
Obviously, the snake was moving this way because it was in a hurry. I
propose snakes which roll do so when they are "putting the aferburners on."
The Audubon Society responded and I posted the letter on SSS. Does anyone
remember SSS? It is not an active goup now and I can find no reference to it
on the Web.
In 2006 or 7, I obtained a copy of "Snakes of the Southeast," by Whit Gibbons
and Mike Dorcas. To note, the National Audubon Society and Peterson field guides
do, or at least used to, propose that the hoop snake legend may have come about
from "mud snakes" and their habit of lying in a loose coil. But mud snakes are
brownish or otherwise dark colored but have lighter underbellies and side markings.
But what "Snakes of the Southeast" had to say and show about BLACK RACER
snakes startled me!
Black racers are all black, and fast, normally active in the daytime only and are noted
for getting killed on busy highways. Bingo!
This has led me to theorize that some, most or all hoop snake sightings are of black
racer snakes. Black racers in a HYPER HURRY!
NOTE: Possibly more than one known species can roll...under the right
circumstances. But Black Racers are high on the prospect list; the
circumstances under which ANY snake would roll are apparently quite
Link to some "traditiional, mythical" hoop snake images:
Picture a black racer (image link, below) rolling like my snake image above, and you will have an ACCURATE
hoop snake image in your head!
Info on Racers, Mud Snakes and others:
Wikipedia on Hoop Snakes: (I have two entries on the "Discussion" page.)
"Snakes of the Southeast" by Gibbons & Dorcas: