What is a myth?
Subject: Hoop Snakes
The Myth: Hoop snakes are dangerous snakes. When surprised one of these snakes will grab its tail in its mouth, form a "hoop" with its body, and roll away. One version of the myth says that the hoop snake will chase a person in this manner, but a conflicting version says that the hoop snake uses this means to escape from a threat. Yet another version has it that the snake will roll down a hill killing anything and everything in its path.
Subject: Swallowing Young
The Myth: Some snakes, such as garter snakes, swallow their young in times of danger in order to protect them.
Subject: Snakes are Slimy
The Myth: A snake's skin is slimy and yucky, disgusting to touch.
Subject: One Rattle Each Year
The Myth: Rattlesnakes add a rattle each year.
Subject: Sucking Milk
The Myth: Milk Snakes sneak into barns and barnyards where they suck milk from cows.
Subject: The Buddy System
The Myth: Snakes travel in pairs. If one snake is killed the other snake seeks revenge.
Subject: Tails with Stingers
The Myth: Snakes have stingers on their tails with which they can poison prey or a person.
Subject: Charming Prey
The Myth: A snake can hypnotize or "charm" its prey so that the animal is unable to escape from the snake.
The Myth: Snakes can strike only from a coiled position.
The Myth: An injured snake dies before sundown of the same day.
Subject: Bad Breath
The Myth: A Hognose Snake, sometimes called a puff adder, can mix poison with its breath and kill a person at a distance of 10 or even 20 feet.
Subject: Water Moccasins in Ohio
The Myth: venomous Water Moccasins live in Ohio.
Not all folk tales about snakes are false myths. Some of these popular stories are very true. If you want to know about snakes, you should understand these truths as well as the myths.
Subject: Coiling When Striking
The Truth: Snakes do not have to coil to strike. They can and will strike from almost any position.
Subject: Snake Eggs
The Truth: Some snakes hatch from eggs, while others are born alive. For example, garter snakes in Ohio bear their young alive.
Subject: Shedding Skin
The Truth: Snakes shed their skins several times a year rather than just once.
Subject: High-speed Snakes
The Truth: Snakes can move fairly rapidly for a human on foot, but not at truly high speeds. Top speed for most snakes probably is about five to eight miles per hour.
Subject: "Biting off more than they can chew"
The Truth: Snakes do not chew their food. They swallow their prey whole. In fact, snakes can swallow whole an animal that is much bigger around than they are.
Subject: Jumping Snakes
The Truth: Snakes cannot jump. They may fall from a ledge, soil bank or tree, but they do not jump.
Subject: Beneficial Snakes
The Truth: Some snakes actually are beneficial to humans because they prey on insect and rodent pests.
Subject: Removing Snakes' Fangs
The Truth: Removing the fangs of a venomous snake does not make that snake harmless. A new pair soon replaces the lost fangs. In fact, the fangs of venomous snakes in Ohio are constantly being renewed.
Subject: Venomous Snakes
The Truth: Most snakes found in Ohio are not venomous. Still, there are three kinds of snake in Ohio that are venomous, and therefore are dangerous. They are the Northern Copperhead Snake, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, and the Timber Rattlesnake.
The Truth: Some snakes in Ohio will subdue small animals by wrapping coils around the prey and squeezing until the animal dies from suffocation. The snake then swallows the animal whole.
Subject: The Rattle
The Truth: Rattlesnakes have rattles at the ends of their tails with which they can make a noise. As the snake grows and ages it adds a new rattle each time it sheds its skin.
© 2001 Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN)
The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: