yellow-bellied waternake, Nerodia erythryogaster

Snakes & Such

by Joshua Heston

What is it about snakes?

Snakes certainly get all the notoriety. As long as there are copperheads and water moccasins in the Ozarks, these reptiles will be associated with the dangerous side of the hills.

However, this section isn’t just about snakes. It is here to provide specific data, stories, folklore, photos and art regarding lizards, frogs, scorpions, tarantulas, and more.

From Vance Randolph

All snakes are supposed to go blind and change their skins during the dog days of late summer and become more belligerent than at any other time. Uncle Israel Bonebreak, an ordinarily reliable old gentlemen who lives near Pineville, Missouri, tells me that he has often seen blacksnakes, chicken snakes, milk snakes, and other harmless serpents deliberately attack human beings during the dog-day period. There is an old saying that “all snakes go blind when huckleberries are ripe,” and it appears that some hillfolk accept it as a literal truth.”

— page 256, Ozark Superstitions by Vance Randolph, Columbia University Press 1947

Snakes on the James

by John Tilden

We do have the hills there and those copperheads love those hills.

It’s not a good idea to pick up the rocks or poke around the brushpiles. We cut a lot of wood on the farm and those wood piles? They really love that.

The bluff side of the river is cool — it's on the north side. It's pretty good for snakes too.

You just learn to look before you step, before you go digging for something. If you have your canoe turned over, you learn to stand, reach over and turn it right side up, away from you.

My dad, as a kid, was running barefoot in the orchard and was bitten on the toe by a copperhead.

He was okay, though.

Plate 1. Yellow-bellied watersnake, Nerodia erythryogaster. Photo courtesy of Ben Dalton. May 5, 2012.

deadly copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix

Plate 2. The deadly copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix, handled with care. Photo courtesy of Ben Dalton. May 19, 2013.

Some Ozark Critters:

Cottonmouth (Water Moccasin) Agkistrodon piscivorus

Copperhead Agkistrodon contortrix

Blue-tailed Skink Pleistodon fasciatus

Whip Scorpion Mastigoproctus giganteus

American Tarantula Dugesiella hentzi

Brown Recluse Loxosceles reclusa

Black Widow Spider Latrodectus mactans

chinkapin oak

Snakes & Such

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