Giant snake on the loose has no possible local source

Description leaves only possibility of escaped imported reptile

To the Expositor:

The Eastern foxsnake (Elaphne gloydi) does not have black and yellow stripes, nor does it ever approach a length of 9′ long or a circumference near that of a coffee mug.

There is no snake native to Ontario that matches the description reported in the Expositor on July 1 (‘Giant snake on the lam in Providence Bay,’ Page 1).

If you decide to believe the description of the enormous snake, then the only conclusion possible is that the observer saw an escaped, imported reptile. On the other hand, for some reason, which I cannot explain, people have an irrational fear of snakes. Over the years, I have heard some real whoppers as to what people have seen on Manitoulin Island (“reared up like a cobra a foot high,” “made a loud hissing noise you could hear from across the field,” “chased our big dog up the driveway,” etc.). You know how it is with big fish stories?

Well, apply that to snakes. I’m not saying there was no snake, only that it can be tricky how things get remembered.

Almost all our native species of snakes are very timid, and will probably scoot off and hide while you are still trying to figure out how to take a picture of it. The only ones that tend to be somewhat aggressive are northern watersnakes (which can be solid coloured or patterned), but these are non-venomous. The milksnake, also non-venomous, will mimic a rattlesnake by flicking its tail against an object to try to scare away predators (and you).

Snakes are important creatures for our ecosystem. They eat rodents, insects, and frogs that would otherwise overrun us. They don’t jump or fly and they can only strike out to about 1/3 the length of their body, so if you don’t happen to like snakes, just take one giant step backwards and you will be out of their range. Then walk away.


Judith Jones

Winter Spider Eco-Consulting