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A Hillbilly Guide to Snakes: The Mud Snake
Farancia Abacura... The Mud Snake
The mud snake is a large, secretive, sneaky, and semi-aquatic snake in the United States that is rarely seen by human eyes. The mud snake is also commonly referred to as stinging snake, hoop snake, and horned snake.
The mud snake is in my opinion one of the most interesting looking snakes in the United States. The top of the snake is black, but it's sides have a bright red tiger stripes that wrap underneath. The belly of the snake looks like a checkerboard. It's head is mostly black with specks of red and red underneath. Some mud snakes have a little yellow coloring on their face. Their eyes are red. In some rare cases the mud snake's red can be replaced by white.
The mud snake is quite large with an average length of 40 to 50 inches. The record is 81 inches. That is 6 and a half feet!
Mud snakes are native to the United States and can be found in central to southeastern states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, etc..
The mud snake is semi-aquatic so it is nearly always found in areas with a large permanent water source. Mud snakes like swamps, rivers, lakes, forested areas, etc.. One of the reasons people don't see mud snakes often is because they thrive and have the highest populations in places like swamps. The other main reason that people don't often run in to mud snakes is because they are primarily creatures of the night. They move around and hunt at night, but generally remain in hiding under debris during the day.
Mud snakes love amphibians particularly frogs, but will also eat other amphibians and occasionally fish. Snake's like humans require various particular nutrients to survive. Most snakes are acclimated to and conditioned to eat the things that provide them the particular nutrients they need. For example a person that has a pet kingsnake can feed it nothing but mice, as mice provides the kingsnake all of the vital nutrients it needs. Mud snakes on the other hand get the nutrients they need from frogs. So it may not be fair to say they love frogs so much as they require them for proper health. This makes it very difficult for them to be kept in captivity, as it can be fairly difficult to keep a supply of right types of frogs for feeding. Mud snakes use unique sharp curved teeth to hold prey in place while they eat it.
Interactions With Humans
Despite their devilish look, mud snakes are nonvenomous and completely harmless to humans. In fact, they don't even try to bite people. Mud snakes have a pointy tail. When threatened they will coil up and use their pointy tail attempt to scare away attackers. So when a human picks one up instead of biting or releasing a smelly musk, the mud snake will try to use it's pointy tail to push at the person's hand. This attempt may be either to scare the person or to simply pry the hand away.
This commonly accepted as the reason behind the myth of the hoop snake. An old myth says that there are snakes in the United States that would bite their tail, coil up in a ball, and chase people. When the snake built up enough speed it would launch itself at the person tail first like a spear. People called them hoop snakes. There was never any solid evidence that any such creature existed. There was even a $10,000 reward at one point. Today most people believe this myth was created based on the mud snake.