Walking through a public park in Tennessee, you don’t expect to see a snake larger than your five-year-old child. Courtnie Dunn had the unnerving experience of encountering just such a snake on Monday afternoon. She stopped to take a picture, saying her husband would never believe her otherwise. You can see the wild Facebook photo below. Seriously, this is one big surprise.
Dunn has edited the post since first sharing it. After her post went viral, people have been sending the mother of two small children messages to let her know that they feel she should have taken a better photo. They’ve also aggressively shared their opinions on what she should have done about the snake. Going viral online seems to be a stressful life event. Despite her frustrations with commenters, she has decided to continue sharing what she did next, which was to call her mother who worked for the city. While officials didn’t update Dunn on the snake directly, she had last heard that they suspected it might be someone’s pet that they let go. This theory would explain why such a large reptile was moving around. However, the snake has not been officially identified.
Since Dunn’s post, the city has spoken to the press about the incident, ensuring the public that they do not believe the snake is venomous, though they still didn’t identify the type of snake it is for the public. There are 33 different species native to the state, with only a few posing a serious threat.
The Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge has its fair share of the state’s dangerous snake population. Their website shares that one of the more dangerous ones you can expect to find is the cottonmouth. While the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge site says that most of the reptiles in the park only bite in self defense, so even when they’re venomous the dangers aren’t a major concern, a venomous snake isn’t something you often encounter in the United States. Across the country, there are only 21 native venomous species. The cottonmouth is the only venomous water snake.
In response to the recent sighting of the enormous reptile in the local Tennessee park, the Chickasaw National Wildlife Refuge reminded the public to always stay a safe distance away from any snake. Since they don’t often attack unless it’s in self-defense, it’s best to not get too close and encourage them to feel threatened. The National Wildlife Refuge added that it is illegal to kill snakes in the state of Tennessee.
Before the internet, we didn’t often see random reptiles or other dangers not natively living near us. Thanks to the spreading of information online, we now know that these types of surprise sightings are more common than we would have previously assumed. Recently, a snake was spotted on a Target grocery shelf while a woman was shopping for canned beans in North Carolina. There are stories of them living in walls, which is apparently fairly common. The Pittsburgh Park Rangers recently put out an alert for a massive snake hanging around in trees.
Fortunately, like the people at the Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee said, they’re mostly not venomous and still only attack when provoked. Keeping a safe distance from any massive creatures you see hanging out in park trees sounds like a safe plan if you ever luck into a sighting like this.