Local man encouters six-foot snake

Published 1:36 am Sunday, June 7, 2009

NATCHEZ — Thomas McCoy found a big surprise hiding underneath his pickup truck at his Cloverdale Road home last week.

But it wasn’t a birthday present or gift from a friend — it was a six-foot long snake.

“I don’t know what kind of snake it was, but it was big,” McCoy said. “Somebody thought it might have been a timber rattler, and then somebody else said it might be a chicken snake. It looked like the color of a rattlesnake, but it didn’t have any rattles on its tail.”

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But McCoy, 75 and a veteran of the Korean War, was taking no chances. He got his shotgun out of the nearby carport and put his marksmanship skills to good use, blowing the serpent’s head off.

“I was a pretty good shot back then,” McCoy said. “So it wasn’t a problem.”

McCoy said it was the first snake he has seen at his house in the 17 years he has been living there.

Snake sightings are more common in the spring, Director of the Adams County Extension Service David Carter said.

“Right now is when they’re the most active,” Carter said. “When the summer heat starts, they won’t move around as much. Snakes are a lazy species and they don’t want to get out in the heat. Spring and fall is when they get up and move around the most.”

But just because summer is almost here and the weather is heating up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware of snakes.

“Snakes like cool, dark places, so people need to eliminate places they could use as shelter,” Carter said. “Wood piles, brush piles or just junk lying around the house, snakes like those areas. Just avoid the clutter.”

And while McCoy was skilled enough with his shotgun to safely kill the snake he found underneath his truck, Carter said it is safest not to try and kill or handle them.

“Most snake bites occur when people are trying to kill them or pick them up and move them,” Carter said. “If you’re not confident and sure about what you’re doing, the best thing is to stay away.”

And since it can be difficult to tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, Carter said the best thing is just to stay clear of all of the creatures.

“A snake is a snake,” Carter said. “A vast majority of people don’t want a snake whether it’s poisonous or not. That’s all the more reason to stay far away from them.”