We have built over 200 miles of trails through Georgia woodlands and wetlands. We have bisected enough snake habitat over the past twenty-five years to encounter our share of creepy crawlers.
It wasn’t until we got a call from a lady in South DeKalb County last month that I decided it was time to share our snake adventures. After all, it is not everyday that we get a call about a Boa Constrictor!
Back to the Boa Constrictor in a minute. My first snake encounter at PATH was riding along the first few miles of the Silver Comet Trail completed near Hiram. I came around a curve and there were 10-15 people standing on the trail in front of me. As I approached one man yelled “careful, there’s a big ole snake blocking the trail.”
I peered through the crowd to see a four foot long King snake enjoying a nap on the warm concrete. I identified the ‘big ole snake’ as a harmless King snake that was actually a predator to less desirable snakes and should not be feared or harmed. One-by-one the group dispersed, giving the motionless King snake plenty of real estate as they made their way down the trail.
King snake sightings along the Comet have decreased substantially over the years. It could be that there are so many people on the trail these days that it’s not such a great place for a snake to take a nap.
A few years later while trucking down the Comet near the Castle Rock trailhead a big ole Rattlesnake startied crossing the trail as my buddy and I passed. We both screeched to a stop and whipped out our phones to get a picture. He immediately coiled up, started rattlng, and even hissed at us. I got his picture but I don’t think he liked us stopping and interrupting his travels. (Note to self: Don’t climb on the rocks at the Castle Rock trailhead).
While riding the Arabia Mountain PATH near the covered bridge, I encountered a man alongside the trail smashing a Black Racer snake with a big rock. The snake-killer was bigger than me and we were miles from civilization so I decided not to speak up for the snake who was past saving anyway. I did make a note to erect signs reminding trail users not to harm native creatures, even snakes! (I bet you wondered why those signs are posted everywhere.)
Now back to the Boa Constrictor. We got a call this summer from a lady walking the South River Trail. She reported coming face-to-face with a giant Boa Constrictor on the trail. She said she had seen it three days in a row. This snake story got my attention. We advised her to take a picture if she saw it again so we and the authorities knew what to look for. (I didn’t believe she had really seen a Boa Constrictor, ergo the picture request).
Sure enough, the next morning, she sent us a picture of the Boa Constrictor. After looking carefully at the picture, the surroundings did not look familiar to me at all. The closer I looked at the picture, the less confident I was that the picture had been taken on the South River Trail. I got home that afternoon, and on a hunch, googled Boa Constrictor, and low and behold, there was the exact picture she sent to us! Whatever snake she saw is still enjoying its freedom along the South River Trail. So step lightly out there in case there really is a Boa on the loose!
Takeaways from this story: King Snakes are good snakes (they are the yellow banded black snakes that nap on the trail); Rattlesnakes hate to have their picture taken, and that giant Boa Constrictor may be still waiting for you on the South River Trail. Happy Trails my friends.