View Full Version : Abundance of snakes!!

06-25-2009, 12:46 AM
Anyone else noticed an abundance of rattling snakes this year? Before this year I might have saw 2 or 3 rattlers in the park my whole life. So far this year i've probably saw a dozen or so close to the water most of the time also. Anyone know if there is a reason for this, or am I just lucky? If they get much thicker i'm considering adding cro-fab to my fly vest.

06-25-2009, 08:38 AM
I wonder if the wet weather has had an impact?

06-25-2009, 09:24 AM
I would think the excess rains may have the snakes more active due to instability in their habitat. Their nests may be wet or flooding they are probably having to move more often. Not that there are more snakes in population; just that you are seeing them more often due to movement. However; this is just my opinion. I am not educated in this stuff...

07-26-2009, 11:44 AM
I have not seen a Rattlesnake this year...thank goodness. But I have seen a few Copperheads, one was way to close for my comfort. He/she was laying about ten feet from Cataloochee Creek. He was coiled up in a sunny spot just having a good ole time. Needless to say I gave it a wide berth.

Jim Casada
07-27-2009, 08:47 PM
MikeRob--I've seen three snakes, only one of which was poisonous, this year. Although they may seem plentiful to you, there's an absolute dearth of snakes in the Park today as compared to the situation 40-50 years ago. When I was a boy in the 1950s and a young man in the 1960s, water snakes consistently dropped off overhanging limbs into the creek as one progressed upstream while fishing. Similarly, encounters with rattlers and copperheads were fairly common. The difference is very simple--wild hog numbers have increased dramatically, despite ongoing Park efforts to get rid of them. The hogs dine on snakes, poisonous or otherwise, with great delight. Interestingly, the reduciton in the number of snakes is actually a return to pre-Park days, when most famlies (including my father's) allowed their hogs to range freely until late fall. Once they had fattened up on chestnut mast, they were rounded up, often with the help of a catch dog, and slaughtered. Just like the Russian boars which are now such a nuisance in the Park (more on the N. C. side but plenty on both sides), these semi-domestic hogs worked on snakes. Then the creation of the Park gave snakes a breathing period, only to see the expansion of the boars, which originally escaped from a preserve in Graham County, and a reduction in snake numbers. That's probably a lot more history than you wanted, but try to take comfort in the fact that snakes are far fewer now than was once the case. Jim Casada

07-28-2009, 09:50 AM
Interesting post! Thanks for taking the time to share~

07-28-2009, 11:05 AM
I think I attract snakes-I see em' everytime I come to the park -Have never had any close calls-I have seen lots of copperheads,especially around Tremont-Not many Rattlers-I hate snakes.

Rog 1
07-28-2009, 11:20 AM
To quote Smokie Robinson..."I second that emotion"....the last rattle snake I saw was swimming between my fishing buddy and me in Greenbrier on the river below the Cascades parking area....it was huge....saw snakes everywhere for the rest of the week...we came across a big rattler that apparently had drown in a log jam up above Elkmont several years ago....thing was still creepy.

07-31-2009, 08:50 PM
Well, in my brief three years living around the mountains, I have had one of my snakiest years yet, of course, I look for them. Copperheads really seem abundant this year, maybe just more mobile and visible due to the cooler weather. As someone mentioned previously, Tremont is a great place to go see a copper. As far as rattlers, I have had few encounters, but during the last month I have been able to locate one almost daily. I still have yet to find a rattler den but I'm looking. Copperhead dens I have found, well at least one. As far as other snakes, northern water snakes are as usual, extremely abundant and visible. One unusual serpent I've encountered this year was a red belly snake, a fairly small snake, about 10 inches or so. Fairly dark, lightly patterned dorsal side, top side, and a brilliantly bright red ventral side, the belly. Harmless and beautiful. what a creature. In case there is any doubt, I love snakes and I love finding them. Even my mother, when she visits, has found a snake out here she likes, the northern ringneck, a very common and medium sized friendly snake. she's strongly disliked snakes most of her life. If anyone is interested in finding some, or one, just let me know. also, i had no idea that the pigs feasted on snakes. interesting

07-31-2009, 11:33 PM
you can never have too many snakes.....they eat lotsa nasty lil creatures...voles, mice, rats

08-01-2009, 09:58 PM
Sam -- do voles include garlic-breath, scuzzy, slimy-haired "house boys"? If so, PRESERVE the snakes!!


08-02-2009, 07:32 PM
hey phil....i think those "house boys" in turkey would qualify as the species "volus nastius"...even those that didn't smoke those foul smelling cigs.

for the uninitiated, phil and i served together is the usaf and were stationed together in the lovely city of trabzon, turkey, then a city of 66k with no sewer system other than the aptly named Black Sea.

08-07-2009, 10:22 PM
Sam -- very articulate as always, my friend! Drop me a line @ psnapp@yahoo.net sometime!


08-10-2009, 09:00 AM
Saturday I went down the Natchez Trace Pky. and saw 3 rattlers run over in the road within 5 miles of each other...after reading this and other posts about more snakes in the Smokies,it got me wondering what's going on.
I have been wandering in the woods around the Trace and Laurel Hills WMA for years and have never seen a rattler dead in the road....copperheads,yeah,but not a rattlesnake.I know they've been scarce around here,but that seems to be changing.

08-10-2009, 11:13 AM
I still have yet to find a rattler den but I'm looking...
In case there is any doubt, I love snakes and I love finding them...
Even my mother, when she visits, has found a snake out here she likes...
If anyone is interested in finding some, or one, just let me know....

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:
No other words necessary....

Knucklehead....good choice....
Just messin'

08-11-2009, 10:17 PM

You saw my three favorite snakes - the flat ones.

Jim Casada
08-12-2009, 09:51 AM
Precisely why anyone would want to visit a snake den is beyond me. I'm not particularly scared of them, although I've hunted turkeys in Texas in a couple of places where rattlers were far too plentiful for my taste. That being said, I know off the top of my head the whereabouts of two rattler dens (unless they've been abandoned in recent years). One is far up the Left Fork of Deep Creek in the area of the headwaters of a feeder, Keg Drive Branch. There are lots of rock cliffs/overhangs here, and locals have always maintained it was the area where Tsali hid out.
The second is not in the Park but is on the head of Kirklands Creek just outside Bryson City. In the latter case the topo map actually shows a location called "Snake Den" or something like that. I seem to recall seeing something similar on a couple of topo maps for sections of the Park, and the naming likely comes from real-life circumstances.
Almost all the dens I've ever heard about in the Smokies have been in rocky or cliff-like situations at fairly high to high elevations. Jim Casada

08-13-2009, 12:34 PM
In my mind there are always a lot of snakes in the park, and I fully expect to see one every time I go up to the park. Two weeks ago I saw a massive rattler stretched out in the woods about 15 yards back from the bank (I was swinging around a buddy that I was fishing with, and I was lucky to spot it before I stepped on it!)

On several occasions I've seen them hanging in the rhodo, which scares the crap out of me. It's hard enough sometimes to just keep an eye on your fly, and even more so to constantly scan the rocks, banks, and tree branches around you. I bet I've walked right by a dozen for every one that I've spotted.

I personally don't fear the snakes though. I've seen many rattlers up in the park, and I've only had one show any aggression at all. Does anyone know of people being bitten while fishing in the park?

Rog 1
08-13-2009, 02:35 PM
I am sure it happens....someone has to keep statistics on this....personally I have had more trouble from yellow jackets and hornets than snakes....I am sure I have passed close to more snakes than I wish to know about in all the years I have trampled through the woods up there.

08-13-2009, 05:00 PM
I tend to be more careful around rocks and ledges, or around woodpiles and downed timber. Never even gave much thought to them hanging in rhodo until that picture was posted on Deep Ck and your comments about them hanging in rhodo. Also, those dang northern water snakes seem like they are everywhere, though they just make you jump.

08-14-2009, 08:31 AM
After fishing the warm streams around this county in Middle Tn. and fighting cottonmouths for years I thought that mountain fishing would be a breeze because the water was too cold for them,but after seeing the picture of the rattler in the rhodo bush and reading similar posts...... I know I'll have to really be careful.
At least I don't think a rattler can bite underwater......can they?
I always hated to be in water about chest deep and see a healthy cottonmouth go under.:eek:

08-14-2009, 08:56 AM
Does anyone know of people being bitten while fishing in the park?

If you read the cheap Park map about snakes, it says that no one has ever been bit by a poisonous snake in the park unless they stepped on it, or were trying to mess with it. I think that says alot.

While I saw 4 huge rattlers in 3 weeks last year while fishing Tremont & hike up Elkmont last year, I have yet to see any this year. I almost jumped on one rattler 3.5 feet ( I have pics). I was jumping from a rock in the middle of the river to the other bank. I landed within a foot of the snake whose reaction was to jump off the rock he was on and take cover. As soon as I saw it was a snake I screamed (like a little girl) & jumped right back to the rock in the middle of the river where I then watched the snake and took some shots. I think I scared hime more than he scared me!

Like Bears, give them respect, and I doubt you will have a problem.

Hey Jim, I think you caused the church in Newport to plan a hike to Keg Branch. Poor snakes!

08-14-2009, 09:31 AM

08-16-2009, 01:05 AM
While I have seen more rattlers around Elkmont (4-5 in past 20 yrs), I suspect that they can be spotted most anywhere in the Park or vacinity. I was totally off-guard when in the late 90's, I encountered biggest rattler I've ever seen in of all places, Mt Cammerer (sp?), within 100 yds of the fire tower! So what is a hungry rattler doing at that altitude? Go figure!


The Principal
08-16-2009, 11:58 AM
My cousin and his family were hiking to the tower and took a break close to it and one of his girls was sitting about five feet from one. The elevation does not seem to bother
them in that area.

08-17-2009, 10:27 AM
My cousin and his family were hiking to the tower and took a break close to it and one of his girls was sitting about five feet from one. The elevation does not seem to bother
them in that area.

I am inclined to agree. I fully expect to see one any minute every time I am in the park, regardless of where I am.

Rivergal, that looks like a real big one! It's definitely in position to strike.

Younger Tom
08-24-2009, 11:43 AM
Nothing substantial out of this, but last weekend I was riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway and came across a recently deceased rattler immediately outside the very appropriately named Rattlesnake Mountain Tunnel.

It amused me, anyway.

08-28-2009, 12:09 AM
Thanks for the den info Mr. Casada. I'll have to take a careful look around there.
Around elkmont, I have been monitoring/watching a nice little snake den that has various tenants: a black phase rattler(found dead on 8-22, more on that later), 3 or 4 garter snakes, a northern watersnake and anywhere between 4 and 8 copperheads.
as for why anyone would want to visit a snake den, to watch them interact and see what they do. They are amazingly social creatures, to an extant. Their tolerance of other species is fascinating as well. the northern ringneck is the little serpent my mother likes, a very docile, but rather smelly snake.
back to finding the dead rattler...after checking on the den a couple of days, i noticed the rattler hadn't been around. so i started looking in other nearby places that looked rattlerish..pretty much anywhere. right next to the stream i found what looked to be a rattler's tail, minus the rattle. so i went for a closer look. yup. it was the rattler i had seen. looked as if the rattler had fallen off somehow. and then....the yellow jackets greeted me in their friendly fashion. i was even looking where i stepped and never saw their nest until it was too late. fortunately, only 5 got me. never did find out what the other end of the rattler looked like. it was under or in between rocks where i'd have to pick it up and look. I'm going to believe the snake got ledged in the rocks when the river rose. don't know if yellow jackets can sting a snake. i would assume they could. snakes i can work around. yellow jackets can all....well, you know.
just for the record, fishing for me this year has been rather swell, too. not too many keepers, but quantity is good. especially the little specs. wow. very colorful midgets.
any way, here's a picture of 3 amigos(rattler, garter and copper) exiting the log one summer morning. keep your eyes open...


08-28-2009, 06:48 AM
Synchronized snakes! Those vipers have organized just like the Elkmont fireflies!

08-28-2009, 02:19 PM
Dude, that picture is awesome! The three amigos :cool:

I had no idea those species would tolerate eachother. You reckon they are drawn to the log because of the heat from the decay?

08-28-2009, 02:31 PM
While a copperhead won't do it, I surprised the rattlesnake didn't make a meal out of the garter.

08-28-2009, 07:22 PM
Well, I'm assuming they're all drawn to the log because of the warmth, location, and possibly a food source. Have seen several squirrels roaming the area and I'm sure rats and mice are around. their tolerance is rather high apparently. I didn't know that either. strange creatures they are...
on another note...friend and i were fishin' in g burg. i'd just cleaned a fish and tossed the head into the river, a still water area. 5 minutes later, the head was moving away...carried off by a snake.. a northern water snake...

08-29-2009, 03:50 PM
I am fascinated bys snakes as well, and am still waiting for my first sighting of a rattler in the wild. I love and respect these creatures, but think they are truly amazing. I have loved poisonous snakes since I was little.
By the way, you got anymore pics of the rattler? I would love to see 'em!!!

08-29-2009, 08:39 PM
[Here are a few pics. the rattler pictured from above had the most rattles I've ever seen on a wild rattler. They were fun watching this year. Brownhunter, we should go snakin' around sometime. they're still out and the rattlers and coppers will probably be headed towards their dens.