Giant North American Snake

Unknown Snake of the United States.

Variant names: Big Jim, Giant Pennsylvania Snake, Peninsula Python, Pete the Python, Salem serpent.

Physical description: Length, 8—30 feet. As big around as a stovepipe.

Behavior: Eats chickens. Can raise its neck and head in the air.

Tracks: As wide as an automobile tire track and 4 inches deep.

Habitat: Wetlands.

Distribution: A partial list of places where Giant North American snakes have been reported follows:

Alabama—Clanton, Kilpatrick.



Indiana—Adams County, Dubois County, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Knox County, Orange County, Pike County, Ripley County, Shelby County.



Maryland—Hall's Springs, Harford County.


Michigan—Hastings, Salem.

Missouri—Lock Springs.



New York—Dresden.

Ohio—Doylestown, Kenton, Loudonville, Peninsula, Rogues Hollow.


Pennsylvania—Allentown, Broad Top Mountains, Gettysburg, Jenners, Morgantown, Pocono Mountains, Somerset County, York County.

South Dakota—Moccasin Creek.


Significant sightings: In January or February 1871, a snake 38 feet 9 inches long and 43 inches in circumference was killed near Fredo-

nia, Kansas. However, in the nineteenth century, Kansas was widely regarded as an area for exaggeration and tall tales.

A dead snake 13 feet 6 inches long was found behind the Clyde Myers home near Doyles-town, Ohio, on May 1, 1944. It was 6 inches in diameter and had bent and broken the tall grass in an area at least 30 feet in diameter with its thrashings. It was on display at a service station in Barberton for a week before health officials ordered it buried.

An 8-foot snake with a diamond shape on its flat head struck at Orland Packer's horse as he was riding near Kenton, Ohio, on June 9, 1946.

The D. A. Crance family was driving next to Spy Run Creek in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on June 13, 1952, when they saw an 18-foot, grayish-blue snake with a head as big as a bulldog cross the road. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette nicknamed it "Pete the Python" after a hunt organized by Sheriff Harold Zeis had gone on for three days without finding anything. Additional sightings ended with a hoax story on June 18.

Eileen Blackburn was driving on I-15 south of Cascade, Montana, in October 1978 when she struck a snake 20-30 feet long that was lying in the road with its head and neck 2-3 feet in the air. It was gray-white with a tan stripe and had a flat head.

Clifton Louviere shot a 25-foot snake on his pig farm near Ames, Liberty County, Texas, on April 10, 1982. However, the carcass disappeared the next day, and Louviere supposed the snake had only been stunned. Possible explanations:

(1) The Black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) typically grows no longer than 7 feet, although an 8-footer has been recognized. It is a uniform black with faint spotting and is found in the east from Kansas to Connecticut.

(2) The Northern black racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor) does not grow much longer than 6 feet. It is black, with dark, middorsal blotches, and is found from southern Maine to northern Alabama. The Southern black racer (C. c. priapus) is similar and ranges from southern Indiana to Florida.

(3) The Eastern coachwhip (Masticophis

200 giant north american snake flagellum flagellum) is typically 4—5 feet long, with oversize individuals reported up to 8 feet 6 inches. The head and neck are dark brown or black, gradating to a lighter color ventrally. Found in the South from North Carolina to Florida and west to Texas.

(4) The Eastern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus) is a brown, black, or olive semiaquatic snake normally only 3—4 feet long, with a maximum length of 6 feet. Its range is from southeastern Virginia to central Georgia. The Western cottonmouth (A. p. leucostoma) maxes out at 5 feet and is found from southern Illinois to Alabama and eastern Texas.

(5) An escaped Indian python (Python molurus), an Asian snake that has an average length of 13 feet and an outsize length of 20 feet.

Sources: "More Monsters," Doubt, no. 15 (Summer 1946): 228; Gus Larson, "Python Posse," Nebraskaland, October 1970, pp. 8-9; Howard Coffin, "Lopsided Legend 'Circles' Hillsides of Vermont," Christian Science Monitor, August 12, 1975; "Monster Snake," Fate 32 (May 1979): 20-22; Cindy Horswell, "Welder Reports 25-Foot Snake," Houston Chronicle, April 22, 1982, sec. 4, p. 5; Mark A. Hall, "Giant Snakes and Mystery Mounds in North America," Wonders 3, no. 4 (December 1994): 93-116; Mark A. Hall, "Giant Snakes in the Twentieth Century," Wonders 4, no. 1 (March 1995): 11-29; Mark A. Hall, "More Giant Snakes Alive!" Wonders 4, no. 3 (September 1995): 80-89; Brad LaGrange, "Cryptoherps of Indiana," North American BioFortean Review 1, no. 1 (April 1999): 27,; Loren Coleman, Mysterious America, rev. ed. (New York: Paraview Press, 2001), pp. 76-82.

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